Thursday, October 21, 2010

Vace Italian Deli

After the Italian Store opened my eyes to the glory of Italian delis, I was excited to check out Vace Italian Deli in Cleveland Park. The Calcagno family has been operating Vace since Ford was in office, so they must be serving up great things. For you Marylanders, there is a Vace in Bethesda, too.

The small storefront could easily blend in with the rest of the shops and restaurants on this busy strip of Connecticut Avenue but the words "Home-Made Pasta" call out to me each time we pass by. We finally made our way inside and were greeted by meat hanging from the ceiling. Off to a good start!

We made a beeline for the refrigerated section and loaded up our basket with fresh pasta, along with the frozen pumpkin ravioli and a giant frozen brick of lasagna. About two seconds after B took the above picture, a swarm of parents and kids hopped in line to get pizza by the slice and deli sandwiches. Luckily, the friendly staff moved the line very quickly, and we were paying for our Italian goodies in no time. Even though we had just eaten, I was really tempted to sample one of the pizza slices or test whether the deli sandwiches stack up to the Italian Store. For once, I kept my impulses in check and left the pizza and sandwich extravaganza for a future visit.

There will most definitely be a future Vace visit. We loved everything about the fresh pasta, pillowy pumpkin ravioli, and walnut cream sauce. We've yet to tackle the mountain of lasagna, but if the rest of the food is any indication, it will be tasty.

Has anyone out there tried the other food offerings at Vace? Any favorites to share?

Second Thoughts from B

Is there anything better than fresh pasta? For someone who already has much love for pasta that is dry in a box, homemade is pure heaven. The problem is, making pasta at home is more trouble than it is worth... especially when we have Vace in our lives.

When I was a kid, my mom and I set out to make pasta. We made the dough, covered ourselves (and the kitchen) in flour, and spent way too much time with the pasta press. The result? Rather unsatisfying looking spaghetti that too closely resembled my latest Play-Doh experiment. As for the taste, it was so memorable that I can't remember anything about it.

Now, for a couple of dollars at Vace you can get a bag of fresh pasta that is big enough for 4-6 meals. One word of advice, don't try and do too much to it. A little olive oil, salt, and pepper is fine. Adding garlic, lemon, or red pepper flakes is permissible, but it is almost a crime to drown these noodles of perfect flavor and texture in a heavy sauce.

As for the frozen pumpkin ravioli and walnut cream sauce, I don't know what to say. If I hadn't pulled it out of my own freezer I would have sworn that a cute old Italian lady was hidden in my kitchen and made this dish fresh. Fantastic!
Vace Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

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