Cafe Pasta - Casual Dining RestaurantsFood ★★★☆☆ Ambiance ★★☆☆☆ Service ★★★☆☆ Creativity ★★★☆ ☆ Value ★★★★☆ meal for 2 $30 -40 Full Bar
Update November 2016
We have been back to Cafe Pasta 3 times since the original review. I had to knock off a few stars on the food as the dishes are not consistently excellent. The pastas with red sauces are very good. The sauces are a bit on the sweeter side (which I normally do not prefer), but the seasoning is very well balanced with the right kick of pepper. The spaghetti bolognese , Salsicca, lasagna are all excellent dishes. However, the Chicken Picatta was not as good. Overall, Cafe Pasta has some very good dishes and it is still a bargain. Obviously if we keep coming back, they are doing something right. I always look forward to their fresh bread (yes actually fresh out of the oven) with the plate of marinara sauce.
Cafe Pasta appears to be a tiny little restaurant on a small street in a revitalized section of town. However, when you enter the Cafe Pasta, it is MUCH larger than it appears on the outside. The interior of the restaurant has several different levels / loft like sections with a central bar in the center. The decor is a bit strange, not terrible, but not great either. The buildings in the area are older buildings that are very well maintained. The interior of Cafe Pasta is somewhat modern style and dated / 1980's. The interior has laser lights, neon, and other very 1980ish touches. The outside does not match the inside. The tables are fairly cheap and instead of hiding them they partially covered it with a napkin. The party in the bar had a disco ball going and had a DJ playing Disco music from the 1980's. The party inside did match the decor, but I don't think they will be there when you visit :)
Parking is not great, but not terrible. There is a very small parking lot across the street and a few more lots behind the restaurant a short walk away. If you have difficulties walking, this may not be a great choice but for everyone else you many have to park a block away.
The servers did a good job considering the night we visited there was a lot going on. There as a large group/ birthday party in the bar and the back sections and a large group of High School kids having a private buffet. Even with all this extra load on the restaurant and staff, they did a very good job being attentive to all the tables.
The food at Cafe Pasta was surprisingly good. With a name like Cafe Pasta, I immediately get the impression that this is going to be a cheap pizza and pasta joint. Well, the food is pretty cheap... cost wise. The food quality was pretty impressive! Most of the Italian style restaurants in the Triad are sub-par at best. There are a couple of fantastic Italian restaurants in our area, though. These fantastic restaurants are at a much higher price point. Cafe pasta provides very good food at very reasonable prices. The food is 5 star if you take the prices into consideration!
My gripe with most Italian Restaurants in our area is the food is bland. Italian food should not be bland. Italians use garlic, basil, oregano, Parmesan and Romano cheeses. All of these ingredients have large bold flavors and the best Italian food I have had in Italy has had big bold flavors. Cafe Pasta's sauces are some of the best I have had in the area. The tomato sauce at Cafe Pasta is not the sickly and boring orange-red bland tomato sauce I have been served at many restaurants. Cafe Pastas sauce has lots of garlic, pepper and oregano, big bold flavors! My only gripe was that it was a bit too sweet. It is ok to add a bit of sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. But it should be very little sugar. Just enough to cut the acidity without making it sweet.
Dinner started off with rolls and they added an interesting twist. Instead of a plate of seasoned olive oil, they put down a plate of cold tomato sauce to dip the bread in. The bread was OK. Wheat soft rolls with a bit of crust. A bit crushed and reheated to bring back the crust. Personally, I would prefer traditional white hard rolls that are typically found in small restaurants around Rome.
Next, we had Cafe Pasta's Breaded 3 Cheese ravioli with Marinara and Pecorino Romano. This was a fantastic appetizer. Deep fried breaded 3 cheese ravioli. The dish was freshly fried with a crisp breader and a cheesy interior. Full of flavor and a bargain at around $7