Throw the Pasta

With the opening of D.C. Pasta Company last week, the food scene in Strongsville became a little stronger.

Dante Boccuzzi’s latest project serves up homemade pastas with sauces picked for that specific pasta.  Pastas are offered in three sizes: Taste, Appetizer, and Main.  Starters including polenta and Tuscan bean soup are also offered, as well as plates of cheeses, meats, and “marinated stuff.”

Our lunch started with house ciabatta served with a rosemary white bean paste, which tasted a bit like a thinner hummus.  An order of the bocconcino di mozarella followed.  The cheese was drizzled with olive oil and served with an apricot accompaniment.  Sweetness from apricot and honey, and a slight tang of balsamic vinegar meshed with the ethereal taste of dairy.

For my mains, I ordered a Taste plate each of strozzapreti alla norma and tortellini di zucca.  The first burst with flavors of eggplant and basil.  Pigtail pasta, a little thicker from its shape, provided that bit of chewiness that boxed pasta doesn’t have.

The tortellini tasted right from fall.  Each bite made me think of changing leaves floating in chilly breezes.  Stuffed with pumpkin and amaretto cookies, I expected a sweeter filling.  But any sweetness was light, to the dish’s credit.

To finish, we split the tartufo di cioccolato.  A snow globe sized ball of hazelnut and amaretto gelati surrounded by a chocolate mouse, all coated in cocoa powder.  The mouse dissolved in the mouth instantly, adding a contrast of both taste and texture with the gelati.  Lovers of Nutella rejoice.

D.C. surprised me in a few ways.

I liked the idea of Taste portions as a way to try different dishes.  With the cheese and bread, two taste dishes satisfied my hunger and left enough room for dessert.

Our entire meal (including two more unmentioned Taste dishes) cost less than what I’d spend for two at Olive Garden.  Now compare those.  Less money for better much better food.

And the location isn’t where I’d expect one of Cleveland’s top chefs to open a new spot.  Not only is it in a strip mall, it is away from the street at the back of the strip mall.

The spot concerns me.  Jeff Jarrett’s Palate once occupied the same space, but soon struggled.  Boccuzzi seems to understand the environment the restaurant is in, as reflected in his prices.  As people learn of the restaurant and eat there, I think a following can grow quickly.

Having grown up near Strongsville, I want to see D.C. succeed.  The southern suburbs need more culinary variety.  Along with Michael Symon’s B Spot, D.C. can change that.

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