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Stuffed Fresh Pasta

September 1, 2016

I’m stuffed. Stuffed with fresh homemade pasta.

Last night I was invited with a group of Yelp Elites to attend a complementary tasting at IL FARO in Menands. Let’s tackle the last part of that statement first. Menands?

One of the fun things about going to Yelp events is that it has brought me to places off the beaten path. And every single time, I’m amazed at how easy it is to get to places that I thought would be hard to reach. Google didn’t even take me up the broken-down stretch of Broadway to get there. Instead, it was just a few turns of I-90 through residential houses near Wolforts Roost Country Club.

This makes sense because Chris Lofaro and Jessica Lamoreaux, who launched this restaurant, wanted to open a neighborhood place. And the building is charming, inside and out. There is even a small parking lot, if you are concerned about such things.

After being open almost a year, chef Lofaro decided to start making fresh pasta in house. Today is day three of the fresh pasta program, which is an exciting development, even in a region with so many Italian restaurants.

Here’s why.

How many Italian places do you know around the Capital Region that make their own pasta? It’s a real question. I really don’t know. There are a few where perhaps one pasta dish uses housemade noodles.

Making pasta is a labor of love. Mixing, kneading, resting, rolling, cutting, and cooking. All for something that most people are perfectly happy buying for a buck a pound. It’s hard to get onions for a buck a pound, and those things just get pulled up out of the earth.

It’s a pain in the ass to make pasta at home for a dinner of four. I’ve done it once. Never again. I can’t even begin to imagine how challenging it has to be to make it in a professional kitchen. Or the learning curve to nail the execution of dishes during dinner service.

I’m not going to walk you through every single one of the seven courses with their accompanying beverage pairings. But there were some highlights from the experience that I’d like to share. Mostly they had to do with the pasta.

Pasta primavera

primavera

This is a dish that gets ruined a lot. Instead of being a simple dish of pasta and vegetables, it’s far too often drenched in cream. Not at IL FARO. Not last night. This was a dish that was light on its feet and all about fresh pasta and fresh vegetables. There was a little garlic, but it was not overpowering. I would have liked the pasta water to be a bit more salted, but chef Chris believes in letting grated cheese do the heavy work of seasoning, and opts for a saltier grated pecorino over the sweeter, nuttier parmigiano.

Sausage ravioli

long sausage

Give me gluten or give me death. I love bread. I love pasta. And I loved these plus sized ravioli the most out of any of the pastas we tried over the course of the meal. Mostly because the pasta itself was more substantial. Two large squares of the stuff were filled with a delicious Italian sausage, combined with ricotta, red peppers, and onions.

This dish was an interpretation of the chef’s popular rigatoni, but in ravioli form. It is paired with a cream sauce, and graced with a piece of basil that really brings some brightness to the dish. It also paired beautifully with a bright French rose. Rose and sausages are one of my favorite pairings.

Fettuccine with lemon and sage

It seemed like this was the crowd favorite, mostly because the aromas just leapt off the plate. It was a soaring aromatic display of lemon and sage. Simple, yes. But absolutely charming.

The regular

Speaking of charming, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the other treats we got from the bar. It’s a bold move to put balsamic in a cocktail, but that’s one of four ingredients in a drink called The Chef. It’s based on Bulleit bourbon and ginger ale with basil.

Although my favorite was The Regular which was a zesty blend of prosecco, Tito’s vodka, limoncello, fresh lemon, mint, and lemon sorbet. This went especially well with the in-house pickled vegetables that were served on the cold antipasto platter.

I have to say, the entire evening was a surprise and a delight. The generosity and hospitality of Chris, Jessica, and the staff at IL FARO were palpable. And the impression I got of the place overall was that it’s offering a modern take on the classics in a handsome neighborhood setting.

It will be interesting to see how the fresh pasta here evolves over time. And again, I am curious to learn where other people have encountered housemade pasta in the Capital Region. Feel free to leave your finds below, because at some point it could be interesting seeing how the places stack up to each other.

But first, I’ll need to wait a week or so until I’m hungry again. Fortunately, today I’m just taking care of some writing. And as long as I’m on the subject of Yelp anyhow, there’s going to be a big giveaway over there starting later today. Believe me, you won’t want to miss it.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 1, 2016 12:11 pm

    Fresh pasta at DeFazios http://www.defaziospizza.com/

  2. September 1, 2016 5:43 pm

    Just off the top of my head, Johnny’s in Schenectady makes their own pasta, as does both of the Wheatfields locations.

  3. September 7, 2016 2:09 pm

    We make the spaghetti and fettuccine for our Tues/Wed pasta special at Lark + Lily. $15 including a glass of wine.

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