If you'd asked me before Sunday, I'd have told you that good pasta was almost impossible to find in the IE. Chicago Pasta House has proved me wrong.
The restaurant itself is small, no more than twelve tables inside, and maybe as many on the covered patio adjacent to the main building. Service was a bit slow, but there was one server handling five tables (kids everywhere), so I decided to overlook it. The restaurant has scenes of Italy and Chicago airbrushed on its walls--not at all badly done, but still just campy enough that the frescoes did not encourage my faith in the quality of the food.
The meal of course starts with salad and garlic bread, and although the flavor of the bread was appropriately buttery and garlicky, I found the bread itself to be a little too spongy on the inside. The salad did nothing at all to inspire me, and as I picked at the wilted greens and the raw white onion, I began to worry about my entrée.
When the linguini arribiata came out, I was more than pleasantly surprised. A nice large serving of linguini, just a bit too much for one person, topped with a beautiful, rich red sauce. The linguini was finished to perfection, but the sauce! The sauce! Finely chopped tomatoes, big ol chunks of garlic, slices of shallots big as your thumbnail, mixed in with finely sliced prosciutto. Prosciutto can do a lot to give limp sauces flavor, but what often happens is that the dish just becomes too salty. This sauce somehow managed to avoid that problem altogether, and the salty ham definitely enhanced the subtly spicy, garlicky flavor. I was very impressed and ate until it pained me.
My companion ordered the fettucini dangelo, a dish consisting of pasta, mushrooms, and chicken in alfredo sauce. Chicago Pasta House doesnt skimp on ingredients, so the plate came loaded with whole and halved mushrooms, and pieces of well-flavored, tender chicken. The dish definitely had a homemade taste to it, with its wide thin noodles and the sauces thin, creamy consistency. The cream sauce (the dish can also be accompanied with white wine sauce on request) is quite rich, yet thin and clingy, with a pronounced buttery cream flavor. It has a slight sweetness to it instead of the hard cheese flavor found in many restaurants. Those who prefer this style of alfredo sauce will not be disappointed with Chicago Pasta House.
I sampled nothing from the dessert menu, but plan to visit Chicago Pasta House again very soon to stuff myself silly on pasta, and perhaps eat a little cheesecake, too.
Chicago Pasta House
24667 Sunnymead Blvd.
Moreno Valley, CA 909.924.5777