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Epitome of Italian-American: Guido's Pasta Villa

Eating Out with Karen Miltner: Rochester Weekend Section, Page: 12H

A map of Guido's Pasta Villa BRYAN WITTMAN

Guido's Pasta Villa

Address: 1313 E. Ridge Road, Irondequoit.
Phone: 585-266-2676.
Serving: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Cuisine: Italian.
Atmosphere: Cozy and hospitable.
Service: Friendly and efficient.
Prices: Entrees, $6.95-$19.95.
Kid stuff: Pasta and half-portions of entrees available.
Smoking: In bar.
Bar: Full service.
Parking: Large lot behind restaurant.
Credit cards: All major.
Reservations: Only for groups of five or more.
Accessibility: Not wheelchair-accessible.

By Karen Miltner
Democrat and Chronicle

(December 24, 2003) - A few weeks ago, I took a brief detour from my beat to survey average Joes and Janes on the street about where they would take Rochester naysayer Jan Wong. (Remember, she's the Toronto Globe and Mail reporter who ridiculed our city's tourist potential.) Now it's my turn. If I had to take Ms. Wong to one place, it would be Guido's Pasta Villa. First, the name, which is completely authentic (the owners, Frank and Jesse, are Guidos by family name), spins off the tongue. Second, it epitomizes the pack of Italian-American eateries that saturate this town. Third, I've never seen any tourists there. Finally, it's the only place I'm aware of that serves greens and beans and gnocchi together ($11.95). This winning combo alone is worth the ferry ride.

In addition to the classic greens and beans, Guido's does a unique spinoff: escarole stuffed with anchovies, bread crumbs and black olives ($6.95). Though I would argue that the anchovies could have been more abundant, this starter dish is a wowser.

Pre-entree minestrone soup had a mother lode of vegetables - a nice change from pasta overload. Bread is hot, hearty and homemade. Ditto on the potato gnocchi, which is doused with a ribbon-smooth red sauce ($9.95).

The Dining Companion commented that her chicken parm with pasta ($10.95) elegantly avoided the dish's typical pitfall of too-rubbery meat. I would add that the elements - breading, cheese, sauce - were soundly balanced.

Another dish that took me pleasantly by surprise was the peppercorn-studded pork tenderloin ($15.95) with mashed potatoes. Though the overload of peppercorns can be overwhelming, it is possible to push most of them out of the way and still enjoy the rich cream sauce.

A homemade cannoli ($2.25) of restrained sweetness finished the meal.

Part of the reason the dining room feels so small is that the portions are so big. You could knock out a two-top with your growing pile of styrofoam-packed leftovers.

THE DRINKS - Full bar.

THE SERVICE - Comfortably paced.

Small, intimate, casual, with 1970s-era decor. Music likewise dates back to the same era.

Contrary to what your mother taught you, it's expected that you'll make a mess. One regular turned to me when I was between bread and appetizer. ``How come you don't have any crumbs on your table?'' she asked. I forgot to tell her to look under the table.

Friendly, middle-aged folks who have outgrown the latenight club scene but still haven't weaned themselves from the chicken French and veal parm habit they probably grew up on.


Eating Out restaurant reviews are based on a one-time, anonymous visit. For other Democrat and Chronicle reviews and restaurant listings, visit us at:

Eating Out with Karen Miltner

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