Sometimes the Shop Tart is slow. She really is. She knows how much everyone loves a thing, but she somehow doesn’t get there. Anyhow.
When she and Mr. Shop Tart were younger, with only two children, they finally reached a point where they could afford to go out to eat every once in a while. They couldn’t afford a sitter in addition to a restaurant tab, so they looked for child-friendly places. Friday night became “Family Night Out,” when no one has to cook and la famille can catch up on each other’s lives. One of the first places they went was Red Bone Alley. Remember that? It was hardly haute cuisine, but they had an indoor playground and table service, so that was good enough. The first time they went, they totally hit the jackpot, because the lovely artist Kirkland Smith happened to be there and she rocked their youngest while they ate, with forks and everything. Heaven!
But Red Bone Alley is closed. And, honestly, it wasn’t all that great. La famille has been meaning to try Pasta Fresca at their new location for-like-ever. They hear nothing but good things and, when Mr. Shop Tart suggested it on Friday night, his wife jumped at the chance
to forgo cooking and cleaning. kidding. she loves cooking and cleaning. kidding. she loves cooking. but not always. she pretty much always hates cleaning. When they arrived, they were greeted by a really friendly hostess who told them — very nicely — that there was a 20 minute wait. The Shop Tart made a face, which was uncool of her and she is sorry about it now. The hostess was really nice in spite of it, which was way cool. La famille was happy to sit outside, even though there was a slight chance of rain, so they ended up having to wait approximately one minute. The temperature was perfect.
Somehow, even though the patio is mere feet from Forest Drive, you don’t notice the traffic. Or at least the Shop Tart didn’t. The landscaping is kind of amazing, which may have distracted her from the traffic.
They decided to do it the Italian way and start with a pasta dish, Angel Florentine. Fresh tomatoes, spinach and basil, as well as garlic marinated in extra virgin olive oil. What’s not to love? Delish.
Next up, a couple of house salads. Fresh, tasty and topped with Parmesan.
The wine list looked good, but the Shop Tart is clueless, so she asked for a dry, Italian white. Her waitress suggested the Argiolas Vermentino from Sardinia and it was lovely.
For dinner, the Shop Tart ordered from the appetizer menu, Prince Edward Island mussels with roasted red pepper and green onions, prepared in Pasta Fresca’s house made pesto. Delightful!
The big kid had lasagna, which seems to be one of his favorite dishes. In the Shop Tart’s limited experience, fourteen year old boys like large meals that taste good. He chose the traditional lasagna with Italian sausage, three cheeses and house made marinara. And more cheese on top. He ate the whole thing, though his mother did manage to sneak a taste and it was very good.
The Tank chose buttered noodles with Parmesan from the kids menu. His mother could not sneak a taste or a photo, because it was all the way across the table, but he was quiet and stayed in his seat until it was all gone. Success! The dishes on the children’s menu are $6 and come with a choice of pita chips, a side salad or peas. The Tank’s parents ordered peas when he wasn’t paying attention and he may have even eaten them. If they had any sense, they would have dumped them in the pasta when he wasn’t looking, but they are far from perfect.
Mr. Shop Tart had MiMi’s antipasto salad for his main course, with prosciutto, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, kalamata olives and roma tomatoes. The salad is served with just the right amount of house made vinaigrette.
Pasta Fresca was packed with just about everyone in Columbia. There were people on dates, families, groups of ladies, old, young and everything in between. Though nearly every table was full, the service was friendly and the food came out quickly, which is always a relief when you’re dining out with children. Often, a meal with children ends as soon as possible, because they are cranky. At Pasta Fresca, la famille was having such a relaxing time, they let the dudes order dessert. Cannoli!
It’s rare to find a restaurant that seems like it would be as much fun with children as it would be without, but Pasta Fresca fits the bill. It’s also nice to see how many people there are clearly regulars, familiar with the owners and the staff. Pasta Fresca is totes on the list for Friday nights out (and other nights, too).
And one last thing: One the way out, the Shop Tart noticed the light fixtures hanging from the ceiling at the entrance. How cool are these? (Pssst…MACK Home did the interior design. Gorgeous!)
And…THIS. See you there!
In today’s post…
- Pasta Fresca, 4722 Forest Drive, 787-1838
- MACK Home, Trenholm Plaza, 790-9911
Happy Shopping and don’t forget to tell them you read it on the Shop Tart!