May 23, 2011
60 West Timonium Road, Timonium, MD 21093
“We welcome you to Basta Pasta. Baltimore’s best Italian dining experience. Choose from a wide variety of appetizers, entrees, and fresh homemade pasta dishes...”
That is what Basta Pasta’s website has to say about themselves. However, contrary to what they write, “homemade pasta dishes” is a definitely a stretch.
So this time, I picked Stehle up, and we were on our way to meet Cynthia at Basta Pasta. After reading over their menu online, I was excited to get there, and had a small inkling of what I might get. When we got there, we had a seat in the empty bar and the nice (and good-looking!) bartender came over to take our drink order. Stehle ordered her staple -- a bloody mary with Old Bay rim, and I just opted for a water. We waited a minute or two for Cynthia, and when she arrived we got menus and began looking. My friend Paul, who is a server at the restaurant, told us to get the Basta Caprese, which is prosciutto, topped with fresh mozzarella, capers and roasted red peppers, thin drizzled with balsamic glaze. In retrospect, we definitely should have tried that. But, I opted for Fried Ravioli, and Cynthia and Stehle decided on Mozzarella Caprese, which was simply tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, and some herbs and olive oil. Simple, but good. The tomatoes were perfect. The herbs sprinkled on top were dry, not fresh, however, it was just the right amount. There was a slight drizzle of olive oil, not too much to drowned the dish, and the mozzarella was fresh. My raviolis were arranged around a small portion of the supposed “homemade marinara”, with parsley and parmesan garnish. As soon as they put the plate down, you could tell this “marinara” wasn’t homemade. Unless the homemake half of it, and then puree it in a blender with half Ragu. Very tasteless, textureless, and disappointing for a restaurant that prides themselves on good Italian cuisine. The raviolis were interesting, not horrible, but they tasted like they just came out of the freezer and were thrown into the fryer.
Next, my entree came with a house salad and breadsticks. The breadsticks were warm and the salad was beautiful!! I’ve never seen a side salad like this. It was a large portion of mixed greens and it was tossed with olives, cucumbers, croutons, sliced cherry tomatoes, and a large pepperoncini on the side (which I love!). I even was offered a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, which I gladly accepted. This dressing just tasted like a light Italian, but that was fine as well.
We received our meals a little while later, and I was pleased with my choice. Stehle got a meatball sub, and when she cut into it, it appeared that the meatballs were purchased frozen, and I’m more than sure the marinara was the same as what I received with the fried ravioli, so I decided against trying it. She didn’t seem to have complaints, as far as I could tell. Cynthia got a Steak Salad which was sliced strips of steak, gorgonzola crumbles, red onions, and cherry tomatoes with the house vinaigrette. I had a bite of the steak, which was tender and cooked perfectly. Cynthia asked to have the dressing that came on my salad, instead of the house vinaigrette, but I tasted the house, and it was much, much better than the one they put on my side salad. A very good, rich balsamic.
I opted for a dish called “Chicken Umbertina”, which was chicken breasts, fresh asparagus, artichoke hearts, and cherry tomatoes in a white wine garlic sauce. It said that it was served with pasta, so I assumed it was all served over the pasta, however, that came out on the side with some of that “marinara” plopped on top. Oh well. The chicken was great! It was seasoned perfectly and so juicy! The asparagus seemed to be fresh, and the garlic sauce wasn’t too rich, so everything complimented everything and it came together wonderfully. Next time, I would ask that the dish be served over the side of pasta, which would have made the dish perfection.
So, everything at Basta Pasta doesn’t seem to be “authentic Italian cuisine” or homemade, but there was some definite high points. I’m left wondering if their Fallston location is better, but I would frequent the Timonium location again. Also, it was very reasonably priced, I got my appetizer, breadsticks, that great side salad, my entree, and the side of pasta for only $20.00. I left an $8.00 tip, and had a good lunch for under $30!