An Italian dinner calls for Italian wine, right? Obviously.
Our visit to Pasta Dal Cuore began as any trip to a B.Y.O.B. restaurant does– with a stop at Cool Vines, our favorite local liquor store.
Fun fact for non-New Jersey-ians, there are some weird liquor laws here, so certain restaurants allow you to bring your own beer or wine if they don’t serve their own. Perfect if you’re picky about what you drink!
We picked a bottle of 2016 Chianti from Tuscany, made by Salcheto. It is a medium-bodied wine consisting of a blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo, and Mammolo grapes. The nose as well as the primary taste of this wine is peppery. There is also a dry, tannic taste. The finish has barely a hint of dark fruit, just slightly. But, best of all, it only cost $12. Scoooooore!
At Pasta Dal Cuore, all the pasta is made fresh in house. “Pasta Dal Cuore” literally means “pasta from the heart.” Never have I related to the name of a restaurant more.
First, we were offered a bread basket with olive oil and… something else? I honestly don’t know what it was. It had eggplant and onion and olives. Maybe it’s the fact that I grew up in the middle of nowhere in a town where Olive Garden and Papa Johns tie for the most authentic Italian cuisine, but I’d never seen anything like this before. I’m going to do some research and get back to you all on this mystery. Whatever it was, it added some much needed flavor dimensions to the bread. Surprisingly delicious was the olive oil with cracked pepper. Clearly not all olive oils are created equal. This was probably the kind Julius Caesar ate 2000 years ago; it’s fit for an emperor. I almost asked the waitress where Pasta Dal Cuore gets their olive oil, but I didn’t, because by the time she came back, our entrees were ready!
I ordered the Linguini di Spinaci all’Amatriciana. The vegetable-green linguine is covered in roman sauce, which I later learned is a type of fish sauce which I’d never heard of before. It also had pancetta, onion, tomato and pecorino.
As delicious as it was by itself, pairing each bite with a sip of wine really brought out flavors that were hidden before. Kind of like how you don’t fully appreciate certain cheeses until you drink wine with them. Really, get yourself a zesty, peppery wine like the Salcheto Chianti for this dish; it will really improve the spinach linguine infinitely.
Alex ordered one of the daily specials: lamb ragu. With wide, flat pasta (pappardelle, I think?) it’s basically a dish designed around the meat. The noodles are like a delivery service for the blessing that is the lamb. The texture of the meat is similar to pulled pork with a more rich, gamey flavor. The rosemary complemented this aspect well.
Overall, Pasta Dal Cuore does a spiffy job of a) choosing olive oil b) making pasta and c) making pasta sauce! And overall, I think I did a satisfactory job of eating all that stuff that they made so well (I cleaned my plate, mom!). Next time I have a massive carb craving, which is basically every day, I will be back with more wine from Cool Vines.
Until next time, arrivederci!