Dave's Pasta In Davis Square, Somerville; What IS My Problem??
Well, I think I have just realized that it can be a disadvantage to be an 'old-time Boston foodie.'(translation, someone who has been a foodie/food professional in Boston since 1971.) The disadvantage that I have realized is this- sometimes food institutions change (for the better) AND you don't hear about it. So you go along your foodie life, making your foodie rounds, learning about brand new businesses and products, but not discovering the improvements made on an old institution.
Dave's Pasta is an 'institution' in my mind. But what is in my mind is a little pasta shop. And I'd never gone there because for the past 25 years, I have preferred( and still do) the soft and silky non-extruded pasta from Medford's Bella Ravioli. But as I discovered last week, upon beginning my monthly Dave's Pasta benefits from a WGBH auction item, what was once a little pasta shop is now a BIG Formaggio type business with tons of diverse product. My my my. Has anyone sampled a LOT of Dave's sauces and pasta flavors, and come up with favs? Thanks much.
Dave's Fresh Pasta
81 Holland St, Somerville, MA 02144
369 Main St, Medford, MA 02155
I do like their pastas (fresh ravioli of the month, or just their cheese ravioli) but I find their sauces extremely bland, bordering on insipid. I've tried three so far and have been underwhelmed with all of them. I had the marinara, the vodka and one other one whose name is escaping me at the moment. I'm not sure if the batches I've received were problematic or if they're always like that, but I'd recommend asking for a taste before you buy.
I really like their porcini mushroom ravioli; the pumpkin rav, however, is hit or miss. Sometimes too squashy and under-seasoned for me. Also, they don't last in the fridge, so you've got to use them that day or 1 day later at most or they turn. Not a knock on the pasta, just a note to anyone who wants to buy fresh but isn't going to use it right away.
Despite my general distrust of bolognese sauces not made by me -- ; ) -- I recently tried Dave's and it was pretty insipid and WAY over oregano-ed, so much so it was inedible. Also, despite listing "beef" and "pork" on the ingredients, it tasted mostly like hamburger meat sauce, which is obviously not a bolognese.
Just had a "miss" version of the pumpkin ravioli a few nights ago. Filling was almost watery, definitely underseasoned, and just plain bland.
The chard and roasted garlic, and the artichoke and fontina have always been delicious every time I get them, but some of the other ravioli can definitely trend mediocre-to-bad.
I haven't had all of their sauces, but the mushroom cream sauce is quite good when I've had it, and the arugula pesto was also yummy. That said, I feel like the taste does vary from batch to batch, maybe they should standardize their recipe a bit?
Some sauces are just good, but the smoked tomato cream sauce and their plain old basil pesto are to die for.
I love the smoked tomato cream sauce. I use it over pasta, as a sauce for meatloaf, as as ingrediant in other pasta dishes, and when I'm really lazy, as a dip for hunks of bread.
One of my favorite raviolis is a special that contains chard and roasted garlic. The sward is given a rough enough chop that the filling has some real texture/flavor.
I admit that although I know home stocks cold and exhort my non-food friends on the ease and wonderfulness of stock, I have been known to pay (relatively) high prices for their frozen stock in quarts.
I like the panforte. It doesn't stick as much to your fingers as you might think, and it's good for bringing friends on moving day, because it requires no care and can be given to tired friends at any moment.
I don't like the pastas much (I like a different recipe for pasta fresca, and I _really_ don't like the sharp corners on the noodles from the cutter). I also don't like the frozen lasagnas, which I con myself into every couple of years or so.
I tend to like whatever veggies are in the pre-prepared case. They're not better than I can make at home, but they're about as healthy and worth it if I'm tired. See butternut squash/onion mix, marinated mushrooms, roasted beets, spinach.
I like the smoked tomato cream sauce as well. Not as much some of the other sauces.
enh, that panforte is REAlly terrific. i polished that wedge off FAST.i was a bit concerned that the fig base would result in a cloyingly sweet product, but that was not the case. The fresh flavor of the hazelnuts and almonds was quite distinct and i particularly liked the orange component and the cocoa coating. I try almost every panforte i can, and this is even better than those sold at formaggio and whole foods. i must admit that i suspect that they do not make it at dave's, but buy it and repkg it. I wonder if anyone knows........