This Week in the Mercury


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pasta Allegro Post-Mortem

Posted by Chris Onstad on Thu, Sep 26, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Pasta Allegro, the latest victim of the "cursed" location at the corner of NE MLK and Fremont (former home to Belly, Terroir, and Carpaccio), has called it quits (see the official announcement here). I put quotes around "cursed" for a reason - I visited once, for review purposes, a couple months ago. I don't think the location was a factor so much as the food and atmosphere.

The inside of the restaurant had scarcely been changed following the exit of Carpaccio, save some unpainted bolt holes in the wall where Chef Solda's paintings had once hung. The wine racks stood empty, the entire layout was the same, and the tables, chairs, plates, and silverware seemed identical. It felt ghostly, hermit-crab-like. The woman I presumed to be the owner sat at the bar and disinterestedly read Facebook during our one quiet, painful meal. A horribly-conceived blind date at the other end of the dining room underscored the awkward and amateurish experience quite beautifully.

Here is what we ordered.

allegro_drink.jpg

A cocktail. It was shaken with some vigor, but was not a memorable concoction. Par for the course, nothing to worry about. Your usual $9 restaurant alcohol experience.

allegro_salad.jpg

This always makes me mad - the zero-thought "airport Caesar." Ribbons of bagged, inadequately drained romaine, watery dressing, and parmesan that seemed to have been shredded many weeks, and states, ago. The croutons were forkable, at least.

allegro_meatballs.jpg

Sadly, more after the jump.

Meatballs, the only passable recipe of the night, seemed to be the only remaining bit of know-how from the Morgan Brownlow consultancy. Knowing that the storied fellow had helped with the opening week, I'd gone in with something like hope, but it was quickly crashing down around the foil-wrapped butter pats.

allegro_tri_pasta.jpg

Figuring we'd get a lot of mileage out of a dish that featured three of their sauces, we ordered the three-pasta sampler. Yes, the noodles were of the fresh variety, but fresh inasmuch as they were never dried. The sauces were fairly flat, and suffered the added moisture of the under-drained pasta poorly. I just felt bad for the cook who had to compose these little cups.

allegro_carbonaraaaaagh.jpg

The carbonara was the unmistakable death knell that we'd heard rumbling all along: Noodles in a gluey sauce of scrambled eggs, cream, grease, and chewy bacon. Perhaps two bites were taken of any one dish we ordered, we declined to have any of it boxed, no questions were asked, and nothing was compensated.

We left, empty and unhappy, not fed, but no longer hungry.

It isn't always the space that's cursed (though the whole no-parking thing is a bit of a drag). Sometimes it's quite simply that the restaurant was never given two legs to stand on.

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