Pasta Nuovo took over the old Tutto Pasta spot in Middleton a couple months ago. I was kind of disappointed that my neighborhood was getting another Italian restaurant instead of a good Mexican restaurant or casual deli, but figured I should give it a chance. The inside was cozy and open, but it was a beautiful night so we sat outside on the patio. A restaurant definitely gets extra points with me when they have outdoor seating.
I want to start with the one reason I won’t be going back to Pasta Nuovo for a bit. The service here was awful. Our waiter was inattentive, arrogant and a little inappropriate. The other waiter serving on the patio filled our water glasses more than our waiter. Our appetizer and entrees were brought out by two different people other than our waiter. Our waiter spilled an entire bottle of beer on the woman behind us. He disappeared the entire time we were eating our entrees. He also told us about the two times he lost his credit card and had his identity stolen and how dumb he felt when that happened the second time. The cherry on the top of being a terrible waiter was when he condescendingly told me he would take care of my coupon after he didn’t take care of it the first two times I asked. The woman who brought out our appetizer and the other guy serving on the patio seemed like very nice and competent servers…maybe we just got the cream of the crop!
I found a coupon for $10 off the purchase of an appetizer and two entrees so we started with the bruschetta. It came out on a large chunk of pizza dough, which was different than I have ever seen. The menu said it was topped with an heirloom tomato basil salad. The description was a little misleading because the stuff on top of our pizza crust was halved cherry tomatoes, a couple slices of basil and a ton of arugula. Everything was really fresh but the dish was definitely lacking in flavor. The flavorless pizza dough with cooked tomatoes and peppery arugula would really benefit from some balsamic vinegar and either mozzarella or Parmesan cheese. Also, the tomatoes were in such big pieces only one out of every two or three bites actually had tomato in it. Chopping the tomatoes up into smaller pieces would make it better.
They have a couple of non-pasta options for entrees but since they make the pasta in house I don’t think there was any questions that we wouldn’t get pasta. I got the pappardelle bolognese and was extremely happy that I did. The pasta was so fresh and was cooked to a perfect al dente. The bolognese sauce was, in one word, amazing. It was creamy and hearty but not too heavy. I think what made the sauce special was that it had a little bit of cream in it. Most bolognese sauces are strictly meat based and this one stood out from the crowd with the creaminess combined with the traditional hearty flavors of a bolognese. My mom got the tomato basil angel hair pasta. The pasta was also just as amazing as the pappardelle and the accompaniments were very fresh. The tomatoes were perfectly cooked and plentiful, and the sauce a perfectly sparse buttery drizzle with basil on top. It was very different from the pappardelle bolognese but an extremely flavorful version of buttered noodles. Both were a great choice.
FOODNOTES: The location is a plus for me and I loved the outdoor seating. The portion sizes were plentiful for the prices. Our server was terrible so I will be giving them some time to weed out the bad servers and assemble a good serving staff. Unless there are changes made to the bruschetta I probably won’t be getting it again. As amazing as the bolognese was there’s another dish on the menu I want to try. Next time I go I will be getting the roasted beet pasta. It is fresh beet and spinach fettuccine with roasted beets, goat cheese and pine nuts drizzled with olive oil. I don’t like the flavor of goat cheese but they said they would substitute Parmesan and I think that would be a great substitute. I would suggest getting the bolognese during your first trip and I will definitely update you on the roasted beet fettuccine dish. I also plan to check our their dessert options next time.
I’ve lived in Madison for six years now and still haven’t found the perfect place for Chinese food. In college I ate Asian Kitchen because it was cheap, tasted decent and they delivered for free! But now that I live in Middleton and have a car, I don’t eat Asian Kitchen anymore. I’ve tried Tom’s Red Pepper in Middleton, which was fine but seemed a little too expensive.
Where is your go-to place for Chinese food in Madison?
I had been hearing a lot about HyVee’s Chinese food so before my shopping trip I decided to try it out. I got the two-entree meal that comes with rice or noodles, an egg roll or crab rangoon, and a fortune cookie. First off, I was excited that I could substitute lo mein for rice because I never eat the rice. The lo mein was probably the best part of the meal. It was flavorful and not too greasy. I also really liked the large chunks of cabbage in it. The egg roll was nice and crispy but the filling was a little lacking, which led me to dip it in spicy mustard. That was a good combo but I would prefer the egg roll to stand on its own.
For my two entrees I got garlic chicken and Mongolian beef. I usually love mushrooms so the garlic chicken dish that was half mushrooms looked like a good choice. But I actually didn’t like the dish. The chicken was too mushy. The mushrooms had an odd, slightly canned flavor to them. And the sauce wad basically flavorless. The Mongolian beef, on the other hand, was very good. The beef was perfectly cooked with huge chunks of onion and green beans. The sauce was just a tad spicy and had a pretty good, hearty flavor.
For $8 I got a huge portion and had to take half of the lo mein home, which is pretty comparable to Asian Kitchen’s prices. The biggest difference between Asian Kitchen and HyVee was that Asian Kitchen’s fortune cookies tasted like cardboard and HyVee’s had a vanilla-y flavor!
FOODNOTES: Since The Mogolian beef and lo mein will definitely be on my plate again but I will probably opt for something else over the garlic chicken. HyVee is decently close to my job I will probably go back on dinner breaks when I’m craving Chinese food. It’s a very good alternative to ordering food for eight just to get three different dishes and having to eat it for a week.
Fitzgerald’s Supper club in Middleton has been on my list of restaurants to visit for a couple years now but something more exciting has always beaten it out. This past Friday when my Mom came to visit seemed like a great opportunity for a good steak and salad bar. The decor was underwhelming with splatter painted walls and a color scheme I can only describe as mauve-ish brown. We got a pretty prime table at the front of the dining room in an elevated cluster of tables. We went pretty early in the evening so it was quiet in the dinning room but when we left the parking lot was full and there were people waiting for our table. Our service throughout the entire night was above average and our food came out extremely fast.
We ordered the fried pickles as an appetizer and they came out hot and very crispy. The batter was clearly a homemade beer batter and the pickles with their homemade ranch dressing were some of the best ones I’ve ever had. The salad bar offered typical supper club ingredients including some really good pickled beets, a couple cold salad options, two different types of soup, and hot garlic bread. I love salad bars so I might be biased but it was a very good start to our meal!
They had a lot of different entree options but going to a supper club in my mind either means steak or fish fry so I got the ribeye and my mom got the fish fry. Mom’s fish had the same light and crispy beer batter on it and it came with some tasty homemade fries. My steak came with a couple options for a side but I went with the garlic mashed potatoes, which were an amazing combination of red potato skins, creamy garlic potatoes and scallions. My steak came out cooked perfectly and was seasoned extremely well. I was very impressed all together with Fitzgerald’s and was very happy to eat leftover steak and french fries from Mom’s fish fry for dinner last night.
FOODNOTES: Great option for steak or fish fry, prices about normal for a traditional supper club, could use some decoration updating, service was fantastic, will definitely go back.
The restaurant space now occupied by Oliva used to be a peruvian restaurant that I really wanted to go to a couple weeks before it closed. Thank goodness they didn’t have any vegetarian items on the menu preventing me from going with a vegetarian friend because that place got closed down for health reasons. Since then I have wanted to give Oliva a try but it has gotten mixed reviews. I have had a couple friends go there and have mediocre experiences. So when I went I didn’t have high expectations.
The decor is interesting considering it is a Mediterranean and Italian restaurant. Bunky’s does this combo really well and has very eclectic decor. Oliva is an odd combination of modern and floral patterns, and muted tones throughout. It felt more like a funky coffee shop than a restaurant. I was really unimpressed by the plastic glasses that my water came in but the steamy hot bread was amazing.
The menu is mega long and complex with way too many options that lack in diversity. They offer pizzas, pasta, salads, entrees, and calzones. I got the cannelloni which was supposed to have ground beef in it but I couldn’t see or taste any in mine. The dish came out piping hot and the marinara sauce had a really great flavor. I was a little disappointed in the size of the dish and the lack of beef for the price. Everything on the menu could be about $4-$6 less and then this place would be a great deal. The prices were also disappointing considering the plastic glasses.
The dessert options are pretty general with tiramisu, baklava, cheese cake, and rice pudding as options. I got the baklava which was a good size for the price but the usually honey-like sauce had been replaced with a thin sugary sauce. I liked the ratio of nuts to phyllo dough but I missed the traditional thick sauce of other baklava’s I’ve had.
Bottom Line: It was a good meal but a little disappointing for the price. The decor was off-putting and the plastic glasses bothered me (they felt cheap). After looking at the menu again I don’t think there’s anything on the menu that would bring me back.