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Just picked our first crop of Sun Gold tomatoes, which means summer is finally here! Celebrate summer with our new tasting menu…

We’re pleased to announce the launch of our new Summer Seasonal Menu! The menu showcases in-season, fresh and local ingredients from artisan producers such as Alfieri Farms and Fra’Mani.

As an appetizer, enjoy our Pizzetta Ortolana, a small thin-crust pizza topped with seasonal vegetables, fresh Belfiore mozzarella, and basil pesto over tomato sauce. For the pasta course, guests will rave at the return of our Conchiglie con Salsiccia. Enjoy pasta shells with Fra’Mani sausage and organic greens mixed with a sage pesto made with Alfieri pistachios from the Central Valley. We have two main courses — one is grilled Mahi Mahi served with salsa cruda and greenwheat freekah (see Mother’s Day blog entry for more details) — the other is an Italian inspired meatloaf or “Polpetone” made with Mary’s Free Range Chicken served with a delicious mushroom gravy and crispy garlic and parmesan potatoes.

As a side you can enjoy greenwheat freekah sautéed with organic arugula and tomatoes.  And for the “sweet course”, try our Semifreddo al Cappuccino, a classic Italian ice cream dessert covered with Alfieri Farms almond brittle and a butterscotch and chocolate sauce!

For the next several weeks, you can find this menu along with a specially priced tasting menu throughout our restaurants in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Orange County.  If you’re feeling adventurous, our Pleasant Hill and San Jose (The Alameda) locations are offering a different seasonal menu, with items that we are “testing” for future menus. If you want to get in on the culinary adventure or try a different seasonal dish, please visit those locations to see what we’re working on.  We hope you enjoy the new dishes as much as we do and look forward to your feedback!

 

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Celebrate Mother’s Day weekend at Pasta P!

Wait a minute!  The special Mother’s Day entrée sounds delicious but what is Greenwheat Freekah? Well, we’re glad you asked! Some people consider Freekah to be an ancient superfood. Dating back to 2300 B.C., Freekah (pronounced free-ka) has been a culinary staple of the Mediterranean. Freekah is 100% “green” durum wheat (the variety used to make pasta) and it makes a unique alternative to rice, couscous or pasta. The process of making freekah is fairly simple. The wheat grains are harvested while they are still soft, young and “green”. Following harvest, the grains are then parched, roasted and dried. The entire process is natural and only uses fire and air and more importantly captures the grains at the state of peak taste and nutrition. No additives or preservatives are used. From a nutritional standpoint, green grains are very different in properties to mature grains. Because it is harvested while young, Freekah is higher in protein, vitamins and minerals than other grains. Plus it’s naturally sodium free and packed with fiber. Freekah compares well to other healthy grains such as quinoa or farro and it has at least four times as much fiber as some other comparable grains, and consists mostly of insoluble fiber. For those watching their sugar levels, it also has a low glycemic index so is suitable for diabetic diets.  Finally, in addition to the above health benefits, we think Freekah has really great flavor and is something that every foodie should try!

 
 

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The Artisan Wine Project introduces Uvaggio’s Barbera!

The next stop in our Artisan Wine Project is the Barbera varietal.

Barbera is a red Italian wine grape variety that, as of 2000, was the third most-planted red grape variety in Italy (after Sangiovese and Montepulciano). This deep ruby grape is believed to have originated in the hills of Monferrato in central Piemonte, where it has been known from the thirteenth century. It produces good yields and is known for deep color, low tannins and high levels of acid (which is unusual for a warm climate red grape). In California, Barbera is one of the most successful of the Piemontese grapes to be adapted in the state, with over 8,000 acres of plantings.

We first met Jim Moore, the Proprietor and Winemaker of Uvaggio, at Lodi’s Treasure Island Wine Festival. The Wine Team at Pasta P regularly visits wine festivals of various up-and-coming California wine regions to find potential candidates for our Artisan Wine Project. Uvaggio represents exactly why we started the Project — Jim makes great Italian styled wine from lesser-known varietals and has limited distribution. Most importantly, many of his wines come from the Lodi appellation, which allow us to offer one of the best quality to value relationships to our wine-loving guests!

After our initial meeting with Jim, we conducted an extensive food and wine tasting that paired Uvaggio’s Barbera with many of our favorite Pasta Pomodoro dishes. We were so impressed that we bought his last remaining inventory of the 2008 vintage. Don’t worry 2009 is coming! So please enjoy Jim’s Barbera in your neighborhood Pasta P with any of our pasta dishes or entrees until our next Artisan Wine arrives!

For more information on Jim, Uvaggio and his robust Barbera, read on…

Jim Moore landed in Napa Valley in 1976 and three years later in September 1979, Jim joined Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville, beginning a two-decade long tenure at what is perhaps California’s most renowned, if not iconic, winery. In 1988, he was promoted to their enology department and began working to help guide (and in some instances, actually define) the winemaking styles. Around this period his palate for Italian wines was recalibrated, after exposure to the exceptional vintages of 1982 and 1985. These vintages were contemporaneous with an increased awareness of wine quality in Italy and in some instances; they even involved revolutionary production techniques. He created and developed La Famiglia di Robert Mondavi in California, while helping launch Luce and Lucente from Tuscany – a collaborative effort with the Frescobaldi family of Florence. Since his beginnings at Mondavi and later as Director of Winemaking at Bonny Doon Vineyard/Ca’ del Solo in Santa Cruz, Jim has traveled extensively in Italy, especially Tuscany, Piedmont, Friuli and Trentino, as well as Burgundy and Bordeaux in France to study their vineyards, winemaking techniques and coopering. Today he resides in Napa with his wife, a librarian and educator, where they explore new culinary and vinous horizons daily.

Jim started the first incarnations of Uvaggio in 1997 after a long wait and considerable effort. Today the portfolio consists of Vermentino, Rosato, Primitivo, Moscato (both secco & dolce) and Barbera — offering neophytes and aficionados alike with accessible wines possessing vibrant flavors, framed within a classic structure, all offered at moderate prices. With key attributes like lower levels of alcohol, distinctive flavor profiles and harmonious expressions, these wines are crafted for food affinity, bringing an Italian sensibility to the American table. Jim’s philosophy is that wine’s primary role is to accompany food, which results in three important attributes — their accessibility, harmony and value.

Uvaggio’s Barbera is rich, deep and structured with subtle berry aromas and flavors, ripe stone cherries and plums, a hint of chocolate, and a lingering, layered finish. Over 90% of the grapes were grown in Lodi’s Leventini Vineyards on mature vines that are grafted to an old clone, which has been cultivated in the Lodi Appellation since the 1880’s. After harvest, it was fermented with a yeast strain which was isolated in Barolo, then immediately following fermentation and pressing, it was filled to barrels for a malolactic conversion in wood. Aging was for just over one year in cooperage consisting of new French oak, newer French and Hungarian oak, with the balance in neutral oak. The wine was bottled in December 2009 with 13.8% alcohol, pH 3.55 and TA 6.5 g/l.

Enjoy!

 

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Flowers are starting to bloom… Spring has finally arrived… Enjoy our new Seasonal Menu!

We’re pleased to announce the launch of our new Spring Seasonal Menu! The menu showcases in-season, fresh and local ingredients.

As an appetizer, enjoy roasted Chioggia beet salad served with a balsamic vinaigrette and Point Reyes blue cheese.  Our pasta course is a light risotto with gulf shrimp and fresh asparagus. Since it’s that time of the year, we’re in love with truffles (yet again) so we created a wonderful Pollo con Tartfi e Funghi, which sautés white truffles, crimini and porcini mushrooms with a fresh chicken breast that’s served with our creamy organic polenta. Our second main course is grilled Kurobuta pork loins from Boise based Snake River Farms topped with a creamy white truffle and porcini mushroom sauce and served with our delicious garlic parmesan potatoes.

As a side you can enjoy pan roasted carrots and Chioggia beets with fresh garlic and thyme.  And for the “sweet course”, try our Caramella Crostata di Miele, a flaky pastry filled with caramelized Granny Smith apples and our housemade butterscotch sauce!

For the next several weeks, you can find this menu along with a reasonably priced tasting menu throughout our restaurants in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Orange County.  If you’re feeling adventurous, our Pleasant Hill and San Jose (The Alameda) locations will be offering a different seasonal menu as of April 17th, with items that we are “testing” for future menus. If you want to get in on the “testing” or try a different seasonal dish, please visit those locations to see what Pasta P’s Culinary Team is working on.  We hope you enjoy the new dishes as much as we do and look forward to your feedback!

 

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Prosecco + Pasta P = Perfect Valentine’s Day Dinner

Making plans for Valentine’s Day? Be sure to include a special date night at Pasta P! We’ve designed a special chef’s menu that will be perfect for two… Enjoy!

 

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Brrrrr…. It’s really cold… Time for our Winter Seasonal Menu!

We’re pleased to announce the launch of our new Winter Seasonal Menu! The menu showcases in-season, fresh and local ingredients. For starters, enjoy our Zuppa Cavolfiore, a roasted cauliflower soup that features artisan pancetta from Fra’Mani Handcrafted Foods in Berkeley.  Our pasta course features a Sicilian spiced lamb meatball served with spaghetti in a spicy mint-infused tomato sauce. We have two entrée courses, Brodetto di Pesce and Costolette Brasate. The Brodetto di Pesce is a hearty italian style fish soup served with pacific rock fish and assorted shellfish in a light tomato broth. Our long-time guest favorite, Costolette Brasate, is a boneless short rib braised in red wine and herbs served over creamy organic polenta.  As a side you can enjoy pan roasted cauliflower with anchovies, fresh garlic, chili flakes and capers.  And for the “sweet course”, try our Budino di Limone, a traditional italian baked lemon pudding!

For the next several weeks, you can find this menu along with a fixed course tasting menu throughout our restaurants in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Orange County.  If you’re feeling adventurous, our Pleasant Hill and San Jose (The Alameda) locations are offering a different seasonal special menu, with items that we are “testing” for future use. If you want to get in on the “testing” or try a different seasonal dish, please visit those locations to see what the Pasta Pomodoro Culinary Team is working on.  We hope you enjoy the new dishes as much as we do and look forward to your feedback!

 

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Hello 2012! Hello New Menu and New Website!

Although today is officially a federal holiday and our office building is closed, we couldn’t wait to share this exciting news. Over the holidays we updated our menu and website!  You will notice a new logo and look for Pasta Pomodoro. The logo is courtesy of a talented student-led graphic design team from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Our website now clearly describes what we’re up to from a culinary, wine and hospitality standpoint. Our “techie” regulars will be happy to know that we are beta-testing online ordering for our two San Francisco locations (Noe Valley and Laurel Village) and will eventually roll out this functionality to all our restaurants!

For the menu, we’ve added many new items and brought back some favorite dishes, such as the Polenta Farcita! In the appetizer section, we are now offering creamy organic polenta as well as organic turkey meatballs from Diestel Ranch. We have introduced two new signature salads — a classic chopped, as well as a grilled chicken and vegetable salad that is lightly dressed with EVOO and lemon juice. All greens are organic! You can try our new pasta dishes — Calabrese al Verde and Siciliane, which are both vegetarian but pair beautifully with chicken or shrimp. Based on guest feedback, we’ve returned to our original lasagna recipe and now offer a traditional layered lasagna with our housemade bolognese and Fra’Mani Italian sausage. And for our restaurants that offer pizza, we’ve added five new, delicious thin-crust pizzas! From the classic “Ricco” all-meat pizza to the more modern chicken with potato, sausage and clams, and scampi pizza, you will not be disappointed. Finally, since we love desserts (and have gained a few extra pounds from the holidays to prove it), we’re pleased to introduce our Budino di Pane (butterscotch bread pudding) and Crostata Invertita (polenta cake with seasonal fruit). They are wonderful, with our without, a scoop of vanilla gelato from San Francisco based La Copa Loca.

For new menu ingredients, we’ve partnered with San Diego based Brandt Beef, a well-known family owned ranch that provides natural beef to fine dining restaurants throughout the country. You can try Brandt Beef in our new steak entrée (“bistecca”) as well our steak salad. We’ve also found a delicious sustainably raised salmon from the British Columbia Salmon Farmers Association in Canada. Not only does this reduce our carbon footprint from a sourcing standpoint but compared against other salmon farming jurisdictions in the world, the British Columbia (BC) regulatory environment is the most stringent. BC salmon farms can only be sited in areas where water currents provide optimal conditions for fish well‐being and environmental sustainability. Finally, we’ve decided to upgrade our cheese offering in our Mista Salad and Pasta Sauces. The “Original Blue” from Marin based Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company can now be found throughout our menu.

We hope you like the new changes, and as always, look forward to your feedback. Enjoy!

 

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