I was thinking about this after I went to the Pasta Market Cafe in Malden for the fourth time in 2 weeks! We all have places like this. A place we always fall back on and are never dissapointed. The truth is, like all of you, I have a couple of places that fit this description - but I'm willing to share this one.
Pasta Market Cafe is right in the middle of a neighborhood in Malden. The food is always outstanding. The problem is working your way through the menu. After you try something, you want to order it again and again. Let me just tell you about a few items. They have a gnocchi appetizer that is not even close to the gnocchi I grew up with. This gnocchi is stuffed with goat cheese and bell peppers, then deep fried before it is sauteed with garlic and tomatoes. Eggplant parmigiana seems like a routine choice. At this place they take the time to make it like your grandmother did. They go through the trouble of getting most of the water out of the eggplant before they cook it. the result is a dense, richly flavored eggplant. The most basic of meals, fettucine with meat sauce, has so much flavor and so much meat that it makes you want to take it to another table so you won't have to share it.
I forgot to mention prices, The gnocchi is $6.95, eggplant $10.95 and the fettucini bolognese $9.50. I'd say the price is less than half what I would pay in Boston. That's one of the secrets of ths place. All of their pasta is homemade and they supply many of the high end hotels and restaurants in Boston with their products. If they make something special that day, they make extra and put it on the special board. For instance, last week I had bell pepper pasta with veal and shrimp in a beautiful cheese sauce.
I shared - Let's see if someone else will share one of their secret places.