Sandwiched between Gua-cu-co Hot Dogs and The Sampler Bushwick sits a new Italian eatery, Pasta Bistrot. Those familiar with the area might recall that the space at 234 Starr St was once occupied by the Pasta Shop, which closed due to some mishandlings by the prior owner. “We wanted to open up Pasta Bistrot as a way to continue making the great food we were making at Pasta Shop while doing things right and by the book,” says Pasta Bistrot head chef Leonardo Viscondi, formerly of Pasta Shop.
The first thing you notice when you walk into Pasta Bistrot is how clean and stream-lined the decor is. Light spills in through the large front window. The extensive bars are set perfectly, their metal stools tightly trained to their place settings. The white walls are tall, and green plants spill out of set-back boxes.
Manager Jill and Chef Leo
Next, you’re bound to notice Jill Peacock, the manager. She’s warm and invites you into the restaurant with a huge smile. She’ll detail the day’s specials and answer any questions you might have (like what in the world is guanciale, cured Italian pork or orecchiette, a style of shelled pasta). She’ll explain the restaurant’s “make-your-own-pasta” style, which allows patrons to pair their choice of pasta with their choice of sauce.
The menu is uncomplicated, but as it should be. They’ve got all the sauces you’d expect to see (tomato basil, carbonara, pesto) and a few you might not expect (red sauce with pork jowl or broccoli and prosciutto). The pasta stylings are traditional (including three gluten-free options!) and the wait staff is more than happy to point out which pastas go best with which sauces. They’ve also got a diverse selection of meats and cheeses imported directly from Italy, all of which come to your table on a carefully-curated cutting board. The prosciutto and mortadella are salty and hit the mouth beautifully when combined with the imported olives and crumbly parmigiano-reggiano and pecorino cheeses found on the board.
Pasta in Amatriciana sauce
And when the main course arrives, you won’t be disappointed either. The food is fantastic. The pasta has bite and the sauces highlight, but don’t overwhelm the dish. The spicy, yet sweet, tomato sauce of the Amatriciana was a particular favorite of mine, its marriage to the cured Italian pork verging toward the foodgasmic.
Though the dishes don’t necessarily offer a new take on Italian food, they offer a simplicity and a comfort that is welcomed in a city that often puts innovation before taste.
Fettuccine served in a Broccoli and Pancetta sauce
Aside from snagging an after-dinner espresso or cappuccino, Pastra Bistrot is BYOB, so feel free to bring your own wine or beer. Though they’re in the process of acquiring a liquor license, both Leo and Jill enjoy the idea of supporting other Bushwick businesses, and encourage patrons to stop in at a local wine or beer shop before coming to dinner.
All in all, if you’re looking for a spot to grab some affordable, tasty pasta, while enjoying not only a light and open ambiance, but a staff who are friendly, passionate, and knowledgeable, you’ve got to check out Pasta Bistrot!
Pasta Bistrot is opened daily from 5:30 PM to 10:15 PM; 11PM on the weekends. They serve gluten-free and vegetarian dishes. Free WiFi. Delivery. They are located at 234 Starr Street, off the Jefferson L.