Following a recc on the board, we tried La Pastaria in Los Gatos over the weekend. It was, as described, truly a hidden gem. Very fresh pasta accented, but not overwhelemed, by simple, flavorful sauces made from fresh ingredients.
I started with the Caesar ... usually a good test of a restaurant as it quickly reveals their propensity for fresh vs. canned ingredients. When it first arrived, I was prepared not to like it. The dressing looked a bit too creamy, and I feared a slick mayonaissy (is that a word?) mess was about to follow. One bite and I was cured. A burst of fresh lemon complemented the well balanced and surprisingly light dressing. While I would have preferred shaved instead of julienne-grated Parmesan, and the dressing could have used just a touch more anchovy (or, better yet, a few anchoives on the salad), I finished every bite, using the ciabbata bread to soak up every last drop. A couple others at the table shared a warm brie and roasted garlic appetizer ... which they proclaimed a hit. I was too busy with my caesar and barely had time to snag a small taste before it was gone, but it seemed good to me, too.
The entrees followed a similar pattern. When delivered to our table, like the caesar none of them looked particularly wonderful, but one bite and we were sold. Again, I was so busy with my selection that I snagged only isolated bites of the others. Mine was the aglio y olio pasta ... very fresh fettucine cooked to a pefect al dente served simply with olive oil, garlic and red pepper, lightly accented with some fresh wilted spinach and sundried tomatoes. Very delicate flavors that perfectly complimented, but did not hide, the pasta. Again, I finished every last bite.
I managed to snag a quick mouthful of a crab canneloni dish that was also very good ... great taste of crab and pasta, a light tomato sauce, and not much else, just letting the freshness of the flavors shine through. Not sure if the pasta for that dish was made at the restaurant or not, but it was definitely fresh ... and good. (The menu said only that their "string pasta" is made fresh on the premises ... assume rolled pasta would be made there, too, but use of the "string pasta" descriptor raised the question, and I was too busy eating to ask for a clarification)
Total bill for 4 came to an even $100, including tip and a $15 corkage fee. Definitely worth checking out if you're looking for good chow in Los Gatos without draining your ATM in the process.
The Pasteria, 49 E. Main St., Los Gatos. Open for dinner Sun.-Thu. 5-9:30 p.m., Fri. and Sat. 5-10 p.m. 408.399.3477.
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