Thursday, May 03, 2007

Justa Dinner Out

Dinners always have an edge of ambivalence for me. While it's fun to try a new recipe or pull an old favorite out for the troops, sometimes it's hard to work up the psychic energy to go at it one more time even if the larder is adequately stocked to pull a meal together.

Last night was one of those nights and Dave, bless his heart, got home from work, made me a martini (very dry, shaken, with four, yes four, of those addictive anchovy-stuffed green olives from Spain) and agreed it was a good idea to go out. We decided to head across the river to Justa Pasta, which we hadn't tried since they opened for dinner awhile ago and that had been raved by my brother in his blog.

Though it was prime dinner hour the small dining room wasn't packed, so we ordered at the counter and sat down with our wine and watched as some great-looking caesar salads and big plates of their house spaghetti with meatballs were delivered to nearby tables. This place has it going on with perfectly cooked pasta that they make fresh every day and a casual but not sloppy bistro vibe.

Dave had ordered the bucatini with hot sopressata and seasonal vegetables (above right), which included snow peas, chard and cherry tomatoes, all with a nice al dente texture and snappy flavor. The dude and I ordered the linguine with smoked bacon, spinach and asparagus in a light cream sauce and it, too, was perfectly cooked, with just the right amount of garlic-scented cream sauce clinging to the pasta and the very meaty applewood smoked bacon from Nueske's (gotta source some of that right away!).

A dinner for two with entrée and wine is going to run about $35, so it's not a cheap choice but one that's a great value for the quality, and you'll get in and out quickly without feeling rushed, making it a good option for those last-minute "let's go out" evenings.

Details: Justa Pasta, 1326 Nw 19th (at Pettygrove). Phone 503-243-2249.

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