Blackjack Pasta Bar (long)
Had gotten a menu for this place a while back that piqued my interest, enough for me to check it out, only to find it closed on a Sunday after I walked over. So last week I finally found my way back and gave it a try.
I really love the concept of a pasta bar, there are a couple around back where I lived outside Chicago that I really enjoyed. You pick the pasta, then pick the sauce, add in any toppings. Pastas are about 7.50-10.50 as a base price (that range stretches from basic fettucini, angel hair, to a lobster filled ravioli) and you choose a sauce to go with. Add-ins seemed especially reasonable at .25 cents (peas, garlic) to 2.00 (shrimp). Theres also additional prices for some sauces, which include Chicken and Eggplant parmesean options. Certainly not fine dining, but I really like the choices and the whole mix-and-match idea.
The place is pretty small, located in the Fens area, on Queensbury st I believe. Probably six tables, max, order at the counter, no illusions that its anything other than it seems to be, which I like. I had to wait about five minutes to place my order cause there was one guy behind the counter for everything, but it was 4 on a Thursday, so I can't really fault them for not being at full staff.
I ordered the gnocchi with the #5 sauce-- a pink sauce with mushrooms, peas, and a splash of cream, i believe is how they describe it.
The whole thing was pretty good, not great. The gnocchi was a little too doughy and dense. I can appreciate aldente with a little chew but this was just a little past that point, but not enough to ruin my enjoyment. The sauce was tasty, but nothing spectacular. Pretty standard, plain pink sauce. I had been debating adding in garlic, and was pleasantly surprised that it had a good amount already (I assumed with garlic as an add-on they would remove it from other things to bait you into getting it..cynical me). I think I made a good call on the sauce, because there were plenty of fresh mushrooms and peas, though the peas were slightly undercooked, and by getting this sauce, I still got the veggies I would have added-in for additional $ anyway. Good sized portion, fed me for a few meals. Also, and this was what pushed me from a neutral to a positive review, they included a nice sized roll that was light, fluffy, and perfectly warm. The whole thing came to about 9 bucks, which is cheap for a pasta dinner, but still a lot for my student sized wallet.
So overall, I'd recommend the place. Reasonable prices, solid food. Be interested to hear about their other sauces, the crab vodka cream sauce looked especially interesting. Has anyone tried it?