Pastamania opened just a week ago, and it's already quite popular. We were asked to wait half an hour for a table and were shown to one in ten, and that was just the beginning of a promising service experience. The food, however, could definitely improve – both in terms of quality and value for money. Read on for more.
The classic pasta menu is straghtforward, you pick the type of preparation, the type of pasta you want to use (they produce four; sphagetti, fusilli, linguine and whole-grain sphagetti). Some dishes had the number of calories marked next to them, underscoring Pastamania's stated commitment to healthy food. There's also a range of fusion pasta items and pizza which we didn't try.
For this first review, we stuck to the classics/basics. We ordered a Spaghetti Carbonara (Rs. 950), a Fusilli Bolognesa (Rs. 1300) and a Vongole (Clam) with Linguine (Rs. 1400). Before we dug into the main courses, we checked out the starter menu, which is also quite huge. Deciding to try something simple, we ordered some Bruschetta (Rs. 250).
The Bruschetta came without olive oil, prompting us to ask for it. Once it did come though, we found the oil to be of good quality. You can actually taste the olives folks. The tomatoes were fresh and the bread crunchy but still there was something missing. A bit of garlic and basil would have gone a long way.
One of the first problems we had with the pasta was the way it was cooked, both the spaghetti and the fusilli were not quite al dente. i.e. cooked to just the right amount of consistency to be firm to the bite. The spaghetti was too soft and the fusilli wobbled dangerously on our forks, both tasted a tad pasty. The Linguine though, was cooked to perfection.
The best taste was dervied from the Carbonara, but the jury is out as to whether it was technically a carbonara. To start off with the meat was chicken and not guanciale or bacon (a pork product), which changes things up a bit. But what makes you think twice is the creamy gravy, is Pastamania substituting cream and cheese in a time-tested approach to make (fast) food taste better? Carbonara is usually more eggy. Still, this dish came with well balanced peppery seasoning. We liked it.
The Beef Bolognesa had too much oregano, and it felt like the kitchen had taken shortcuts with the sauce. The tomato sauce and beef clashed distinctly on our palettes leaving us to wonder if the kitchen made them separately and simply mixed them together at the last minute to increase production efficiency. I also wonder if they make their own tomato sauce or buy pre-processed stuff. The former might be a bit too much to expect.
Here at Pastamania, ‘Italian sodas’ seemingly take the place of Italian wine. The Sonó Moto Dolce (Rs. 500) is a little syrupy, and not very sparkly for something that claims to be a soda. I wouldn't really recommend it.
We ordered the Mango Mellow Gelato, and were positively surprised by how good it was. The mango had a sour taste with a smooth texture, almost tasting like passion fruit. I can't speak for the rest of the gelato here because I haven't tried any, but please try it and speak for it here if you do. They have a whole section dedicated to gelato.
The waiters are a little slow in taking your order but this can be put down to them getting acquainted with the huge menu Pastamania offers. There is a veritable army of cooks and waiters right there in the restaurnt with you because its all open kitchen.
The Italian pop music playing in the background is on point. The seats on the ground floor are the best, especially the ones next to the street. Overall, Pastamania has a cheerful, upbeat ambience.
If you're looking for hoity toity, authentic italian fare then Pastamania is probably not for you. They use a basic approach to produce basic and straightforward pasta products, that still manage to just fall short of good.
Things could probably improve if they upped the quality of their ingredients, but that might affect prices, and Pastamania is already IMO hitting the ceiling in its price-quality bracket. Still, they seem to have a few things that can be easily fixed, have just started off, and so far seem to be getting a important things right. So we're giving it a first look now, and YAMU will be back for another look in a few months.