By Andrew Dominick
A neighborhood staple. Always crowded. You’ve heard good things. You suspect the food will be fantastic. You say to yourself, “One day I’m going to eat there.” Only you don’t. You let year after year pass by. You walk past it a thousand times and never once did you break the seal on the door.
Raise your hand if that’s you. Thought so.
Pasta Nostra has been open since 1984, in SoNo, Norwalk’s downtown area, and was a place I wanted to dine at since I was a kid, with dreams of taking a date some night. Two issues: I was too young to afford dinner, and not nearly old enough to date.
One thing about Pasta Nostra that you need to know is you will need a reservation. They are open Wednesday-Saturday, and have no problem filling the place up. Even though I called a week ahead, the only time slot was for 8:15 p.m. I didn’t mind the time since that’s when the cool kids eat, I had a date in tow, and make no mistake, this is a date place. Of course you can come with your family but there are lots of tables for two.
Scan the dining room; most of Pasta Nostra’s customers are eating some sort of pasta dish appropriately accompanied by wine. The atmosphere is not too loud, you can hear “date chatter,” take a gander around and you can see into the kitchen. The steaming basket of fresh baked, crusty bread comes out, a perfect snack that makes you crave that fresh pasta. Chances are you would order steak at a steak house, ordering pasta when a restaurant is called “Pasta Nostra” is the right thing to do. Most dishes here come with pasta anyway.
Two menus rest on the table, one for food, the other for wine. Pasta Nostra has another extensive wine list resembling a book, but that second menu is a shorter wine list that should make your choice easier. I confess, I am no wine expert, I am one of those people that believe if it tastes good, order it, your server will be more than happy to let you try something if you ask. My date chose a 2010 Verdicchio, a white wine from the Eastern part of Italy. I found the wine to be pleasant, not bitter, and not too sweet even with a fruity taste. But when it comes to wine, to each his/her own. Ordering a bottle is a definite money saver if you plan on having more than one glass each.
Now that I waited 20 years to eat here, I had to have something classic; I typically do this when I go to an Italian restaurant for the first time. While $30 seemed steep for Pasta Nostra’s Spiral Sausage with linguini and tomato sauce, it was worth it. The pasta was cooked perfectly and the fresh tomato sauce with garlic and basil was the classic effect I was hoping for. The enormous piece of sausage, which is made on the premises, was one of the better sausages I ever tasted. It was a pork, provolone, and parsley sausage, served juicy, with a natural casing crunch, and a hint of spiciness. This is one dish you will have no trouble finishing.
Other menu items, including pasta of course, are various versions of ribeye steak including pizzaiola style, veal stew, lasagna with three different sauces, spaghetti allaputtanesca, and many seafood options.
Even though the bill will not be cheap, treat yourself and your date. Pasta Nostra will impress and it may turn into your regular venue for date night.
116 Washington Street
Norwalk, CT 06854
Hours (Dinner Only): Wedbeginning at 6 p.m., Thurs-Sat beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Andrew Dominick is a freelance writer and food blogger living in Norwalk, Connecticut. His portfolio can be found at andrew-dominick.blogspot.com and his food reviews at food-dudes.blogspot.com