Few things beat a great bowl of pasta on a cold winter’s night. So, when I heard about Pasta Vitto, the new Italian restaurant that had just opened on the Commons, I grabbed three friends and headed downtown to evade the polar vortex via fusilli e fettucine.
Adjacent to the Marriott Hotel, Pasta Vitto is housed in a large open space with modern decor that lends itself to the restaurant’s casual ambiance. The seating consists of eclectic wavy blue booths upholstered in funky geometric prints beneath walls of exposed wood. My friends and I were promptly greeted and led to one of the booths. As I began to skim the menu, I noticed that they serve an expansive assortment of pizza and pasta dishes; they offer ten “pizzettes,” or personal pizzas, ranging from vegan pesto to walnut and blue cheese to your typical cheese pizza made with their special “momma’s sauce.” The pizzettes ranged in price from $8 to $15, reflecting their mission to serve “Italian-inspired food at reasonable prices.”
For our appetizers, we elected to share two salads: caprese and roasted vegetable. Drizzled with a delectable blend of balsamic glaze and pesto sauce, the caprese is most definitely a contender for the best dish of the night. The mozzarella balls and ripe cherry tomatoes were garnished with capers, adding to the overall refreshing, delicious taste of the dish. Next, we dug into the roasted vegetable salad, an experimental melange of baby kale with red onions, cauliflower, carrots, mushrooms, red peppers and walnuts. While the roasted vegetable was not nearly as good as the caprese, the oregano vinaigrette dressing added an earthy element that complemented the smoky flavors of the roasted veggies. The ratio of the kale base to the toppings, however, was far from ideal, with the roasted vegetables taking up the majority of the dish and dominating the crisp texture of the kale.
Following our salad appetizers, we were parched and flagged down a waiter to bring over a drinks menu. It should be noted that Pasta Vitto has yet to obtain a liquor license, but they do offer an array of creative house-made sodas — I opted for a seltzer with their homemade raspberry syrup. Although the soda was a little too sweet for my liking, it was nice to try something beyond my usual repertoire of Diet Coke or ginger ale.
After a slight 10-minute lull, our main dishes arrived, bringing with them the enticing aroma of creamy sauces and freshly made pasta. For my main dish, I ordered the fusilli with Pasta Vitto’s special pink sauce, a rich blend of tomatoes and cream enhanced by the whipped consistency of the dollop of ricotta in the dish. The pasta was cooked to perfection, which for me means just beyond al dente. Additionally, the portion size was ideal; I finished the entire dish and felt absolutely satisfied but not uncomfortably full. At $12, the Pasta Vitto fusilli offers incredible quality of price. My friend argued that the best part of this new restaurant is the “accessible price point,” awarding Pasta Vitto “10/10 for prices” and “8/10 for cuisine.” Another friend we dined with agreed that Pasta Vitto’s prices are supreme, but she was disappointed by the scarcity of gluten-free dishes as her only option was a penne red sauce.
Ultimately, Pasta Vitto is a brand new restaurant off to a good start. Though they could improve by offering more gluten-free options and securing a liquor license for those who like to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, the cuisine is simple, reliable and satisfies any craving for home-cooked Italian fare. If you are in need of some good pasta to transport you away from the harrowing Ithaca cold, you should give Pasta Vitto a try.
Serves: good, reliable Italian fare at a reasonable price
Vibe: modern and casual spot for dinner with friends