Friday, May 27, 2011

Fresh pasta and antipasti heaven at Ragu Pasta and Wine Bar

I could barely contain my excitement about a planned lunch at Ragu Pasta and Wine Bar on the Level 5 food court at Westfield Sydney. Freshly prepared pasta for $15 in the city is worth getting excited about.

Ragu Pasta and Wine Bar, Level 5, Westfield Sydney
As first visited a few weeks ago, a late-ish workday lunch turned out to be a good time for putting orders in – not too busy and lots of food court seating around Ragu Pasta and Wine Bar (not so much in the bar though).

Options abound – in addition to pasta, there are daily specials and Italian mains, including beef involtini, crumbed cotoletto and a roast of the day of lamb of with vegies the day I visited.

The pasta cabinet
In pasta options, “original” pasta types include spaghetti, fettucine, penne and rigatoni while “freshly made” includes lasagne, ravioli (spinach and cheese on this day), conchiglie (shells), pappardelle, strozzapreti, orecchiette and tagliatelle.

Pretty pasta displays
Of sauces, there are amatriciana (tomato, bacon or pancetta and chilli); boscaiola (cream, bacon and mushroom); carbonara (egg, cheese and bacon); gorgonzola; napoli (tomato and basil), pesto; ragu of minced meat and tomato; and aglio olio pepperoncino (garlic, oil and chilli)

Fettucine with boscaiola sauce
A naughty, creamy boscaiola sauce with a long-time favourite of fettucine is my order; not unlike a combination you might find at a suburban Italian trattoria actually. The serving is generous and topped with grated parmesan cheese.

It’s made special with quality strips of bacon and an array of gourmet mushrooms – not a button in sight but plenty of cute, brown chestnut mushrooms and some larger sliced variety.

The pasta is al dente in a most perfect manner with none of that sticking together of noodles that I find happens at home with fettucine.

Conchiglie with gorgonzola sauce
My fellow luncher has opted for shells with a gorgonzola sauce, presumably made with the huge hunk of gorgonzola dolce latte sitting in the salumi and cheese cabinet. The sauce looks completely unfettered with any other ingredient (other than perhaps cream or milk) but looks like it could do with a green garnish.

The sauce is expectedly rich and creamy while the pasta shells are on the very firm side of al dente – a little too undercooked for my liking, though I can’t be sure how conchiglie are meant to be cooked.

The lack of greenery all round strongly encourages us to get a side salad. The rocket, tomato and parmesan salad at a relatively pricey $12 sets some pretty high expectations (the pastas were $13 and $15 each). What we receive, sadly, isn’t quite in line with the excellent value of the pasta, especially with the presence of some soggy rocket leaves.

Antipasti misti
On another occasion, an after-work weekday (non-Thursday) visit sees a couple of us back, up on the slightly tall and awkward black and white striped chairs at the bar, with suggestions of glasses of a Trebbiano and a Sangiovese to go with the antipasti misti plate.

It’s one of the better value antipasti plates I’ve come across, laden with cured meats, cheeses, marinated vegetables, grissini and crispbread – suitable for three grazers, I think.

Antipasti misti - the other side
Standouts were the semi dried roma tomatoes, grilled eggplant, the cheese-stuffed green olives despite being super salty, the prosciutto and capocollo. However, the pickled zucchini seemed just a little too acidic for my, and the wine’s, liking.

Of the cheeses, the grape-skin topped pecorino (I think) is a talking point, while some of the soft cheeses have been somewhat impacted by the juices of the pickled onions – but not so the bitey parmigiano reggiano which is impressively rich with its full flavour.

Despite the official 6.00–6.30pm-ish closing time, the customers keep coming to Ragu Pasta and Wine Bar; most looking like city workers looking for post-work respite in pastas, soups, antipasti and of course, lots of Italian wine. It just a little bit of heaven – in the middle of a shopping centre.

Ragu Pasta & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

I'll have to check this place out, properly cooked fresh pasta is always a winner.

john@heneedsfood said...

You had me at gorgonzola sauce. Ok, drooling now.

Zina @ tastedbytwo said...

$15 is a great deal considering $13 gets you a hot dog and chips!

susan said...

The antipasto plate looks like a winner!

MissPiggy said...

Oh yum - these pictures have my mouth watering...and I too always need to order a side salad to offset the guilt of whatever it is I'm stuffing into my mouth.

joey@FoodiePop said...

Definitely one to try out soon, but so many options!

Jobe said...

Nice reporting, Tina!

Was thinking of hitting this up on Monday after walking by interested on many an occassion. Fresh pasta is indeed worth getting very excited about.

Dolly said...

wow fresh pasta...

god this looks so nice... nothing like a bowl of fresh pasta for syd's cold weather mmhhhh

Tina said...

Hi laterleating - It sure is!

Hi John - They had me a fresh pasta...

Hi Zina - I know, pretty good compared to some of the neighbouring outlets.

Hi susan - It's a pleasingly generous plate :)

Hi MissPiggy - Yep, it's the vegie-guilt part of the brain. And potatoes dpn't count for me... :S

Hi joey - Yep, I'm looking forward to trying all the combinations! :D

Hi Jobe - Thanks. Don't walk past next tine ;)

Hi Dolly - Yeah, the creamy sauces especially!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

$15 is a really good deal for the Westfields as most of the meals that I saw there were about that price but not quite as exciting.

Two fit and fun gals said...

wow look at all that fresh pasta it looks gr8!!

Tina said...

Hi Lorraine - Totally agreed. Microwave pasta at lunch just won't cut it anymore...

Hi Two fit and fun gals - Sure does!


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