Guido's: Italian food worth waiting for
Democrat and Chronicle
(Jan. 27, 2000) -- The best thing about the generous portions at Guido's Pasta Villa is that they taste almost better the next day as leftovers.
That's a sign of good cooking, and probably explains why customers were willing to wait from 1 to 1 1/2 hours for a table last Friday night.
I waited because it was my job. I had no choice. But I didn't see anyone leave once they learned how long it would take to be seated. They put their name on the lengthy list, waited -- and then they gorged.
Guido's serves a pasta feast in its cramped dining room, where customers are seated on kitchen chairs you might find around any Middle American breakfast table. The Pasta Villa menu is loaded with traditional Italian selections that will satisfy any appetite.
We'd already been there for lunch, so we were alerted to the size of the portions.
At lunch, my companion and I shared an appetizer of baked Stuffed Artichoke Hearts ($6.95). A finely ground, sweetly mild seafood stuffing was nestled in the artichokes and covered with mozzarella cheese and oil. It was a wonderful taste-bud warmup.
For an entree, I selected the Pasta Special ($8.95), which was scallops, artichokes, broccoli and black olives in a gentle lemon-butter wine sauce served over the pasta of your choice: linguine, fettuccine, ziti, spaghetti and capellini. I went for the capellini -- for ''twirling,'' as our server said -- and enjoyed the dish enormously. The scallops were well done but did not get rubbery the way scallops often do. The sauce was smooth and not at all overpowering.
My companion chose Greens, Beans and Sausage ($5.95), one of Pasta Villa's specialties. The escarole was done just right -- not overcooked and slimy. The sausage was mild but the dish was heavy on garlic. The portion was huge -- flowing over the sides of the bowl -- and some went home in a bag to be enjoyed for lunch the next day.
At dinner, we had a long wait, but were pacified by constant apologies. Hungering for dinner, we started with Broccoli French ($5.95), a massive stalk dipped in egg and sauteed in that delicious lemon-butter wine sauce. I loved the broccoli twist on the standard French recipe; the subtle sauce was excellent with the broccoli.
Guido's entrees come with the basic salad or soup offerings. New England Clam Chowder ($1.75/cup; $2.75/bowl) is available on Fridays; it was a bit too starchy and salty for my taste.
However, the Chicken Parmigiana ($9.95) was on the mark -- the breaded cutlet was enough for two meals. I ordered mine with angel hair pasta. My complaint at many Italian restaurants is I don't get enough pasta to go with my ''fill-in-the-blank'' Parmigiana. That was not the case at Pasta Villa, which lived up to its name by serving an abundance of angel hair.
My companion's Baked Ziti ($8.95) also could have served the family. It was a platter of ziti in a mild red sauce made sweet by ricotta cheese. The dish was covered with mozzarella.
After asking to have our leftovers wrapped up, we found room for dessert, and we were glad we did. We shared a cannoli ($2.25) that was sumptuously sweet, with an Impasata cheese that tasted like custard wrapped in a light shell. As with most of our meals, the cannoli was loaded with filling. But this was one dish that did not make it home.
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