Sunday, July 15, 2007

What Happens to Pasta Sauce in San Miguel?

I don't think I'm a pasta connoisseur but in my opinion there isn't very much good pasta in San Miguel restaurants. I've about come to the point of just having pasta at home. Now actually I'm not talking about the pasta, pasta, I'm talking about how it is cooked and then how it is sauced. That is where the San Miguel restaurants are falling short.

Last night we went to a new restaurant in the centro that has been getting mostly rave reviews, Vivoli. The San Miguel Vivoli Restaurant is owned by the owner of the Vivoli Cafe & Trattoria Restaurant in West Hollywood and I assume that the recipes come from there. The restaurant is done in an earthy gold with brown trim around the doors. Behind the bar is dark wood wine racks. White table cloths and cloth napkins. I mention the cloth napkins because you seldom get more than a tiny paper napkin at most restaurants in San Miguel. It all looks very comfortable and cozy except for the lighting. I'm sorry but a ceiling fan with four lights on it, just isn't very flattering to the diners. The staff is dressed in black and seem to be trained, but there simply isn't enough staff to be attentive on a busy night.

There were three of us and all of us were looking forward to getting pasta, pasta as we know it from the USA since we assumed the owner was bringing in his recipes and we would have some wonderful flavorful sauces on our pasta. I don't think that the recipes crossed the border intact. They had already adapted to Mexico. Here is the thing I don't understand about tomato based sauce in Mexico. All of it looks smooth, like a paste. There aren't any little bits of onion or pieces of tomato or anything that might add a burst of flavor or a crunch. And why do all of the tomato pasta sauces end up looking orange instead of tomato red? And why do all of them taste the same?

We had three different pasta dishes and we all thought that the pasta was gummy, not al dente, but gummy. What are they doing in the kitchen? Leaving the pasta sitting in water?

Gummy pasta, pasty sauce. Do you get the idea that I was disappointed in the pasta?

We ordered the calamari and it arrived promptly and was good with a lemony tomato sauce....the same tomato sauce that I had on my pasta but the lemon saved it with the calamari.

We ordered a caprese salad that never arrived.

The wines we had by the glass were good. A Merlot and Pinot Grigio.

The menu had quite a list of things to have beside pasta and we took a peak as some of the plates passed our table going to other dinners. They were nicely plated and people seemed to be enjoying them. So next time we will try something besides pasta, maybe the pizza or a meat dish.

Pasta with any kind of a red sauce? If Vivoli, the little sister of the hip West Hollywood restaurant, can't do it, I guess I'll have to make make my own.


vandy said...

How 'bout Romano's? But of course if you want the ultimate. Landeta! The pasta is hand made, right there, and cooked for only a few seconds. Both are pricy, but WELL worth it.

Billie said...

Vandy, I must be a pasta snob but I don't think Romano's pasta is all that good either. They do have some other very good dishes. It has been a while since I've been to Landeta. I can't remember having a pasta in a tomato sauce there although I have had a wonderful ravioli. It might have been in a light tomato sauce but I just don't remember. But the Ravoili was quite good.