Pasta'z, New in Gardiner, ME
Got around to trying this place that has been open since June.
In a renovated storefront right downtown, Pasta'z is a family owned/run small resto (8-10 tables plus counter seats) that strives to offer authentic "North End, Boston" style Italian dishes. Chef Tony Genovese cooks with love from his grandma's recipes.
The menu offers classic pasta dishes (e.g.lasagne, shrimp diablo) with a few daily specials (e.g. chicken marsala). Surprisingly, no appetizers were offered. A house salad was offered and garlic bread comes w/ each entree. Prices seemed very reasonable (entrees up to $13) w/ generous portions (served in saute pans direct to table).
We tried two specials, ziti w/ broccoli rabe and linguine w/ mussels. Both were very good. Pasta was cooked *perfectly* and everything was fresh and flavorful; delicious.
Wines (mostly Italian if I recall correctly) are offered by glass ($5-7) or bottle ($20s). I believe there is also a full bar.
Do not miss the homemade desserts (by Tony's wife, Roxane). We shared a ricotta cheesecake w/ raspberries that was excellent.
Service seemed unintentionally rushed, but competent. For example, the server was reciting the specials before I was in my seat. But it is about being so anxious to share the food w/ you.
They are open for dinner only right now, 4:30 to I think 9:30.
Tony and Roxane have put a lot of love into this place and are offering something that is otherwise hard (i.e. impossible) to find in this area. Bring the family or make it a romantic date night but try this new spot for real Italian at a reasonable price.
304 Water St, Gardiner
a lot of potential! the bill for two people for dinner (including wine and cannoli for dessert) came to around $70. the space is adorable, but the prices (including a $5 plate sharing fee!) just don't match the meal. my recommendations for improvement: offer a whole grain pasta option. don't charge fresh-from-scratch pasta prices for noodles out of a box. offer delicious bread with olive oil on the side like they do in most italian restaurants. offer freshly grated parmesan cheese at the table. add some exciting wine choices (might i suggest the vinery in augusta for some excellent, reasonably priced bottles?). rethink the cannoli filling recipe. add capers to your puttanesca recipe. get an e-mailing list going and send folks weekly specials, updates, and coupons.
My wife and I went to Pastaz for our anniversary and we had a great time. The atmosphere was perfect including nice artwork, great music and excellent food. The dishes were reasonably priced and delicious. The fact that the portions are so large adds even more to the value as we ate again the next day from what we had left over. I would recommend this restaurant to everyone, be the couple looking for a romantic evening or a family outing, the service and food are great and the price is more than reasonable. Try it !!!
The one thing about Pastaz is the cost of such good food. There is no fluff here and they have really tried to keep their menu simple and the overhead down so as to pass the savings off to the customer. They could do all sorts of new stuff like bigger wine lists and different types of Pasta but if they do they will have to raise their prices. Keep it small, keep it simple and just keep doing what you are doing and I will keep stopping in once a week.