I learned a very valuable lesson on Sunday night. To quote the wise and wondrous Beastie Boys, “You gotta fight. For your right.” Not to paaaaaaarty, but to eat well.
One of Jason’s best friends was in town, and I suggested that we go to the Vortex in Little Five Points. Great burgers? Check. Great draft beer selection? Cool atmosphere? Affordable? Check, check, check. Shortly before we were to leave, however, we got a text asking to change locations. Not wanting to be snooty, I agreed even though I had never heard of the restaurant, which happened to be Pasta da Pulcinella.
I wanted to love it, I really did. It’s located in an old house on a busted Midtown side street, so I had high hopes for its hidden paradise potential. Sadly, though, the restaurant let me down in nearly all aspects.
At 7 PM, we were only the second table in the place. That’s a BAD sign, and I should have expected what was to come based on that alone. But no, I thought to myself, “It’s Sunday night! It’s the end of a holiday weekend! People are out of town/recovering from the Peachtree Road Race/at Atlanta Pride!” Sigh. We ordered calamari to start, which is usually a pretty safe bet. Unfortunately, while the flavor was okay, this squid was the most rubbery I’ve had in a long time. For entrees, Jason opted for the gnocchi (with sun-dried tomatoes and other veggies I can’t recall) and I chose the mushroom ravioli. The gnocchi was actually decent-not the lightest and fluffiest I’ve ever tasted, but tender and with a pretty good balance of flavors. My ravioli, on the other hand, was atrocious. The homemade pasta that was touted on the menu was flavorless and tough, and the mushroom (I presume) filling was bland and under salted. There were a lot of mushrooms on top of the pasta, but I could not taste them because the entire dish was DROWNING in olive oil and LOADED with garlic. Don’t get me wrong, I like olive oil and garlic. I like them in significant quantities. But if you’re going to advertise mushroom ravioli, you should deliver at least a little bit of a mushroom flavor. I was starving, so I ate about half the dish, but then I just couldn’t take any more.
Normally, after such a disappointing entree, I would have skipped dessert and stopped for ice cream on the way home. Since we were with guests, though, and I was still hungry, I decided to check out the sweet side of the menu and see if the evening could be saved. I ordered cannoli, and someone else at the table opted for tiramisu. I tasted the latter, and it was actually okay (though a bit heavy on the coffee flavor). The cannoli shell was a touch stale (or overcooked, one), but it was fairly respectable. The filling (I can’t remember whether it was ricotta or mascarpone, but my bet is on mascarpone) was actually very sweet and creamy. My big complaint was that it was SWIMMING in what tasted like Hershey’s syrup. I tried to avoid the chocolate as much as possible, but it was covering a large portion of the cannoli-to the cannoli’s detriment.
Service was…interesting, at best. The waiter started out merely being attentive, but since the restaurant was so darn empty, his attentiveness turned into hovering, and his hovering included butting into conversations and telling cheesy and/or inappropriate jokes. Our bill for four came to about $120, which seemed exorbitant for what we received (even though, to be fair, it included a couple of glasses of wine).
After the fact, I did some research on Pasta da Pulcinella, and it seems to be pretty beloved. Unless I just hit it on a bad night, I really don’t understand why. While the atmosphere is charming, the food was just too underwhelming for me to return anytime soon.