A couple of years ago, an enterprising friend of mine explained the surefire genius of pasta bars and how they could take Seattle by storm. I was dubious. Hence my interest in finding the pasta bar that Todd said had the best pasta and is in a mysterious part of urban sprawl I hadn’t seen. Of particular interest? Lobster ravioli.
Blackjack Pasta Bar is located on Main Street in Everett. I walked right by it on my first go. While far from a mall, it’s got a food court sensibility to it, and I’ve reason to believe that “Mama” is somewhere in Florida working on her tan while the Mexicans behind the counter give the ravioli a dunk. This doesn’t mean it is bad. It’s just not what I was expecting. I was also surprised to find that there is another one of these close to my apartment in Fenway. While this would have been easier, I did enjoy the long morning walk down from Malden, and riding around on the subways gave me time to work on tricky Sudoku.
The concept for a pasta bar is simple. There is a limited selection of pasta, all fresh and quick to cook, with an array of sauces kept at the ready. The customer merely mixes and matches an order, the cook drops the pasta, slings some bread, and ladles some sauce: plate time 3 minutes. With 14 kinds of pasta and 21 sauces, the potential is there for 294 different “flavor profiles.”
The adjective that sums up my attitude toward decent ravioli is “delicate.” This comes from both my botched attempts at making ravioli and my years of eating fusion/yuppie creations in Seattle. If you’ve got roasted beet ravioli in a sage vodka sauce on the menu, I’m likely to order it. Even better if you’ve carefully pressed the sage leaves into the dough. The ravioli at Blackjack’s is decidedly not delicate. It is thick, chewy, and with as much sauce as ravioli. Each order comes with 9 ravioli, and I could have easily taken 4 more ravioli and half the sauce. It’s less a starter and more a “desperately winter” meal. I didn’t specify which of the 21 sauces I wanted on my ravioli, so I got the default Crab Cream sauce. It was too buttery, though honestly, what else would one expect with lobster? I’d have liked them better with just a tad bit of cream and parsley, something to brighten and work against the already heavy pasta.
I’m still dubious about the concept of pasta bars. I stopped and ate my ravioli in a windy, dirty bus stop along one of the freeways that circles Everett because I thought the pasta would be diminished and go tough if I had to microwave when I got work. Eating pasta on the go is messy, precarious, and there is no wine.