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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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Ate dinner at Strada 18 tonight. Starters were the calamari and the house-made mozzarella. The calamari was good; it came with superfluous dips and such on the side. The mozzarella was great, but was swimming in oil and a syrupy sweet balsamic vinegar; it would have been far better without one.

Next up was a calzone, with fresh sheep’s milk ricotta, broccoli rabe, and sausage. This was the highlight of the evening. Mild, simple, and expertly prepared. The sauce on the side was good, but too strong — it would have overpowered the calzone.

The (baked) macaroni and cheese with truffle oil wasn’t bad, but it didn’t really need the additional oil of the truffle oil; the cheese was good enough on its own, the result seemed overdone. And slightly disgusting.

The linguine with clam sauce was decent, though it had a strong taste of butter and white pepper in addition to the subtler flavor of the olive oil, noodles, and clams. Way overdone.

Dessert was funny. It was supposed to be a souffle; instead it was a crater on the plate. The flavor was good, but I hope the pastry chef committed seppuku after it was served. It would be the only honorable way out of this miserable failure.

Service was pretty horrid. A guy kept peeking over at the table, but failed to ever refill water or tea glasses. Plates were bussed efficiently and new silverware brought appropriately, but that was about the only upside. Our waitress was flirty, but only showed up when it was absolutely clear it was time to order another course.

So! The general theme was that everything was a bit overdone, and inexpertly executed. I wasn’t too impressed; standing on its own, I’d give it a 6/10.

But here’s the thing. Pasta Nostra is just a few windows down the street. And it’s fan-fucking-tastic food and service for maybe only $5/plate more. Why bother going anywhere else for Italian when you’re already looking at paying a decent amount for a meal?