House of Pastas

2007.Aug.13 Monday · 3 comments

in Restaurants

“If you take a picture of a human that does not make him noble, there is no reason to take this picture. That is my way of seeing things.”

– Sebastião Salgado, Photojournalist

Buenos Aires – As I’ve mentioned many a time, I love finding little, out of the way, hole in the wall type places. I also love pasta. Combine the two and you’ve got a winner in my mind, or at least on my p(a)late. Lunch the other day found a trio of us at just such a spot, Salgado, Velazco 401, in Villa Crespo, 4854-1336 – okay, it’s not out in the middle of nowhere, in fact, it’s only a couple of block walk from several bus lines and two different subway lines, but it’s a part of town that many folk don’t venture into looking to eat… probably mostly because it’s more residential than anything else. And the spot itself looks like (and is) a corner fresh pasta store – you know, stop in and pick up some noodles and sauce on your way home to dinner in front of back to back re-runs of the CSI trio…

But there are some tables lined up along one wall, opposite the deli-style counter, which is indeed packed with a display of various forms of pasta and sauces. The place is clearly a neighborhood hangout, and with friendly folk as well – when we walked in, and all tables were occupied except one small table for two, a duo who happened to be at a larger table, picked their stuff up, both food and personal belongings, and moved over to the smaller table so we could have the bigger one – and no one asked them to do it. They gave a cheery wave and went back to their conversation. In New York, I would have had to buy them lunch for that.

Salgado - raviolis with tuco and pesto

The menu looks pretty much like what you’d expect at a place like this – an array of different pasta shapes, choice of sauces, not much else, cheap. And when they arrive on the table, they look pretty much like what you’d expect at a place like this – a bowl or plate of pasta topped with sauce. And then you try them, and immediately figure out that this isn’t “a place like this”… this pasta is cooked perfectly al dente, and it’s fresh, and good, and the fillings in the stuffed pastas are dead on, and the sauces are flavorful and packed with herbs and spices, and balanced, and is that real pesto… yes… eureka! It’s like hitting the mother-lode – we make our way through plates of calabaza filled ravioli with a creamy mushroom sauce, ricotta filled with tuco (tomato-based) and pesto sauces, and a thin spaghetti mixed with top grade olive oil and fresh vegetables…

Okay, maybe I went overboard just a moment there… but not really – the pasta and sauces are indeed clearly fresh, and clearly made by someone who not only cares, but knows how to make them… and sure enough, we find out that the owner, who stops by to chat with us – and whom up to that point we’d thought was just a friendly and efficient waiter – worked as a cook at Sucre and other top spots, and decided to open up this cool little pasta joint in his ‘hood. We end up having a great conversation about the whole process, and then pesto – which he agrees with me that finding the stuff made from chopped or crushed up fresh herbs, garlic, etc. is a near impossibility in this city, and is one of the reasons he makes his every day – from fresh basil (and other fresh greens here in winter because basil in quantity is hard to come by, so this day he’s mixed it with arugula) and all the other good ingredients.

Desserts were good too – not quite as good as the pastas, or maybe they just paled in the light of the great pasta – but a quite good flan casero, an apple crumble, and a fairly dense, almost more ice cream like, chocolate mousse. Simple, honest food, nothing fancy, and thank god it’s not located close to my apartment or I’d be picking up buckets of pasta and sauce and settling in for an entire season of 24 done in real time… they do that here ya’ know, I’m not sure when you’re supposed to sleep, if you don’t want to miss any of the episodes…


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Almeida August 14, 2007 at 10:13

Thanks Dan for this great find. I also never order pesto in restaurants because, well it is never really pesto like you said. We normally make batches of it at home and store it in little Philly Cream Cheese round plastic containers. I am definitely going to try this place out.

Max September 25, 2009 at 19:03

Great review. It makes me want to go right now to have those raviolis with tuco!!

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