Our friends M and A live in the neighborhood and had been to Pasta Mia a couple of times. We relied on their expertise and had a great dining experience. First victory? Arriving around 8:30 p.m. during the winter. This was late enough that the first rush of people was on its way out. Also, I think cold temperatures may slightly deter people from going because they don't want to stand outside.
Second victory? Letting M and A order the appetizers. They warned us that the caesar salad and prosciutto and mozzarella were giant enough for 4 people and they were right. We could have split this 6 ways easily. Also, this caesar salad is $6.00. Talk about cheap eats!
Yes, the portions were giant and the prices reasonable ($17-ish for 3 days worth of pasta), but it was also pretty darn good. B's pappardelle with bolognese was the perfect hearty dish for winter. Yelpers decry the fact that Pasta Mia doesn't make its own pasta but whereever they get it from, it's got a nice snap to it. You just need to go in understanding that this is a red sauce Italian joint, not a temple of haute cuisine. The prices are also about half what you'd pay at a place that makes its own pasta (see, e.g., Filomena).
My penne amatrice with spicy tomato sauce and pancetta was kick-you-in-your-teeth spicy and just the way I like it. It made for very excellent leftovers the next couple of days. I don't really like parmesan cheese dumped all over my pasta, but I was afraid to ask them to leave it off. This just seems like a place that it's better to keep your mouth shut and eat.
Second Thoughts from B
Most of us were dirt poor when we were in college. (I used to think ALL of us were once poor college students but the Whole Foods next to GW put an end to that illusion). Accordingly, most of us took great pride in finding ways to keep our bellies full while still saving a buck. Tell me if any of my favorite tricks sound vaguely familiar...
- The stand we all called "Buck Fitty" charged, you guessed it, $1.50 for a large sub sandwich
- Creative use of carrots can double or triple the capacity of your Mongolian BBQ bowl and as long as it all fits, it costs the same
- Restaurant supply warehouses are often cheaper than Costco... as long as you are ok buying rice by the ton
- Stand around the right concession stand after an event and the leftover popcorn and pretzels are often given away for free
Yeah, Pasta Mia is that kind of place that I would have adored as a poor college student and shared with only my favorite people. You feel just a little cooler to know about it. Not because it is the best in town, but because it is such a deal. So for all of you who remember fondly those days when you signed up for a credit card to get a clean tshirt (and avoid another day of laundry), Pasta Mia is your place.