My sister liked so much the restaurant she chose for her birthday last year that she wanted to repeat the experience this year. Because her actual birthday was on a Wednesday, Alvaro and I took her to Pastabella on the day and the big celebration with friends was on Friday.
Gladys and I arrived on time for our 6 pm booking and found the place deserted. We were greeted by the owner, who was not the one we’d met the previous year. He was nice, though, so we didn’t panic. Then we saw the menu and noticed an increase in the prices, not only in comparison to last year’s but also to the online menu. We thought it could be a sign that the food wouldn’t be as good as it used to be.
We ordered our meals as soon as Alvaro arrived. Gladys chose the Fettuccine chilli prawns (prawns, rocket, garlic, white wine, olive oil in a white sauce with a touch of chilli), Alvaro the Veal Milanese (topped with napoletana sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, with roasted vegetables) and I the Linguini con vongole (vongole, white wine, olive oil, garlic, fresh parsley & basil) from the specials menu.
The food didn’t take too long to arrive, but then again, there were no customers besides us. As usual, we tried a bit of each other’s meals before attacking our own.
Gladys’ dish was nice. The sauce was tasty and not spicy (to be honest, I could not taste the chilli), and it had a generous number of prawns which were perfectly cooked.
Fettuccine chilli prawns ($22.00)
Alvaro’s dish was the most gorgeous looking, thanks to the roasted veggies. The veal itself was alright, the sauce was a tad too oily but had good flavour. The side included boxed-shaped roasted potato and beetroot, plus sticks of roasted carrot and two roasted asparagus.
Veal Milanese with roasted vegetables ($20.00)
My dish was very nice, too. I hadn’t eaten vongole in a long time and it was exactly what I was craving. The pasta was cooked al dente and the amount of vongole was generous. The only thing I didn’t like was the presence of loose tomato skins. I prefer skinless tomatoes if they’re going to be cooked.
Linguini con vongole ($25.00)
We thought that the food was still good, although IMO not as good as I remembered it. The next test would be hard to pass: dessert. Last year we had the famous former owner’s mother’s tiramisu, which all reviews raved about. It was very good, indeed. This year Gladys ordered one, Alvaro and I ordered the white chocolate & vanilla bean pannacotta with fresh strawberries, fig & toffee. The desserts arrived beautifully presented and the owner told us that he made the tiramisu and the chef made the pannacotta. Oops. Not a good sign.
The tiramisu was definitely not as good as it used to be. It was not bad but there was a big difference.
Alvaro and I liked the pannacotta better. The flavour was spot-on, but perhaps it was a bit too set. The fresh fruit on the plate, plus the strawberry coulis and toffee were all nice complements.