Every city has at least one pasta place. Some boast an array of homemade pastas and sauces. Some boast “mama’s meatballs” or “Aunt Gina’s special sauce” since 1482.  In the end, some are tremendous, others are generic clones of East Side Mario’s. I was unsure about Pastabilities in Syracuse. I mean, it seemed like a bit if a gimmick with it’s predictable play on words, striped awning, red neon sign and shameless promotion of their famous “spicy hot tomato oil”. At the same time, it was featured on DDD and celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2012, so there must be something to it.

I expected the lunch to be a typical sit down event but arrived to find that the hostess was replaced by a sign instructing diners (in not so many words) to grab a seat, get in line, grab a tray, read the specials and you’re on your way. There are piles of food; cold salads, multiple pasta choices, stacked sandwiches and personal pizza (based on the size..personal if you are Guy Fieri, Adam Richman and Rob Ford combined). All pastas were under $8 and pizzas were $4.50. You can even snatch a glass of wine at the end of the line if so inclined.

Is it a gimmick?  I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

"Side" Salad and Pasta
“Side” Thai Beef Salad and Hot Tomato Oil Pasta
Pasta and Tomato Sauce and
Pasta and Tomato Sauce and Greek Pasta Salad
Personal Pizza with Broccoli Salad
“Personal” Pizza with Broccoli Salad
Meatball Sub
Meatball Sub

My Take

Is the food as good as it looks?  Well….yes.  The salads were abundant and delicious. The pasta was al dente and delicious. The bread was crusty and chewy.  The pizza crust was divine. The toppings, whether on the pasta, pizza or sandwich, hit the mark.  I wanted to do unmentionable things with that spicy hot tomato oil.   The entire bill was lower than a loss to Georgetown.

I loved the lunch concept.  The serve yourself idea is casual yet sophisticated; fun yet frugal. It’s hard to explain but it just worked.  It’s no wonder the place was lined up out the door.

Ridiculously good food in ridiculous portions at ridiculously low prices is always a winning combination. With a plethora of lunch choices, this place has ultimate pastabilitites….there…I said it. Sounds as cheesy as the meatball sub.

Verdict: 5 Guyz

Pastabilities on Urbanspoon


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