Category Archives: Italian

What’s a Rasta Pasta?

 

What lies beneath my Chicken Montego Bay dish?

Rasta Pasta is one of the new noodle joints opening by campus. It has recently started accepting Bevo Bucks and that prompted my interest in trying the place out. It is right next to Crave, which is on the corner of the Drag and 21st street. Easily accessible from campus, it’s nice to have a new pasta place to eat.

Celebrating a new vibe by campus

Rasta Pasta instantly popped with flavor as the walls are painted in yellow, green, and red. Jamaican-inspired art and flags hang upon the walls. A sort of Tiki bar sits in the back of the restaurant. You sit down at a table and your waiter comes to pick up your drink and food orders. A nice addition is that if you come for dinner, you automatically get a small side salad and garlic bread.

Novel new concept: spaghetti sauce on salad

The salad was a standard lettuce mix and you had the choice of a sundried tomato sauce or a green chile vinaigrette sauce. I personally got the sundried tomato sauce and it was interesting on top of the salad. Think of a sweetened and slightly cheesy tomato sauce on top of plain salad. I didn’t hate it, but I can’t say I loved it either. It was fun to try something different though. The green chile vinaigrette sauce was rather watery and smelled strongly of vinegar, hearkening back to tastes that are more usual on pasta. It was deemed OK. The garlic bread was pretty good and very buttery, but I kind of wished it was a little crunchier.

I personally got the Chicken Montego Bay and it was pretty good. It was like Fettuccine Alfredo with chicken, but a lot spicier and more peppery. Definitely not too salty. It was also different with the sweet taste from the pineapple. At first, I thought there was no pineapple, but I could definitely taste it. Apparently, the pineapple was small chunks that looked like they were the canned kind instead of fresh or big pineapple slices like I expected. They were tasty, nonetheless, and the flavor did come out with the dish. The jerk chicken didn’t taste especially spiced either, but I was pleased with the dish and I felt the wine cream sauce was not too heavy. The large amounts of fresh vegetables in the dish were also nice compared to the many other dishes on the Drag that are very light on the vegetables. The serving is very big, definitely able to fill up a big appetite or provide multiple meals for a small appetite.

My roommate decided on the spaghetti with garlic and herb sauce. A simple nice pasta dish. It was delicious and she compared it kind of to a pizza, probably because of the strong oregano taste in the pasta. It was yummy, but admittedly a little plain. Good though if you want to not be too experimental, but try something different.

Want some Rasta Pasta anyone?

The rest of our group tried the Rasta Pasta. It was definitely unique and as they said “unusual.” The pasta has a sort of secondary heat that builds with each bite. One bite, though, will not burn your taste buds. I am not really sure how to describe the dish except that it was very spicy and you mostly tasted the tomato and garlic. The chicken was shredded and added a nice protein, but everything in the dish was overwhelmed by the sauce.

In terms of service and hygiene, I have to give this place a low score. 😦 Our server was nice and it seemed like he was working a lot of tables at once, but he was awfully slow. He accidentally spilled some vinaigrette on one of our backpacks and his bracelet kept touching our food. Yuck! In terms of hygiene, it was unfortunate that I did not realize until I was putting my food into a box that there was a hair in one of the pastas and some plastic as well. Double yuck!

Overall, the food was interesting and different (fruit + pasta abounds!) and the ambience is very friendly and good for groups. The food servings are large, but depending on how much you like the flavor will determine if you think you got the full value of your meal which averages at over $10 each. The service and hygiene is lacking. I think with time and some cleaning up, Rasta Pasta could be a different experience on the Drag, we’ll just have to see how long that is.

Rating: 😛 😛 for different and unique dishes, but lack of hygiene and service.

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REVIEW: Arpeggio Grill, the Rotating Restaurant

You get bang for your Bevo buck!

Poor Arpeggio. The location has been a revolving location for restaurants that has ranged from Stix’s Bistro to Terra Burger to the now present Arpeggio Grill. It has been hard to keep up with rent on the Drag as the economy drags, but students keep pouring in. Rent has always been killer on the Drag and is even more present this year with the prominent closings of quite a few businesses like the clothing store Wish and the bookstore Intellectual Property in 2009. The Daily Texan actually focused in on it in early August. However, the owner of Arpeggio Grill seems to be taking lessons from his predecessors and I feel like the owner is ready for the Drag. Arpeggio Grill knows we students want good food at a location near us and a place that doesn’t have to look like a dump to give us a good deal. That’s why so many other restaurants on the Drag have been staying around and I think this restaurant could do the same.

A View to an Arabian Night

Approaching Arpeggio Grill, the restaurant face has huge windows that lets in light to what could be a cramped space. Murals of Arabian Nights decorate the walls and bring a kitschy, but nice atmosphere to the place. Arpeggio is noticeably a little better for small groups as the smaller tables are pushed to the wall and can be uncomfortable for parties larger than two. Our large group of ten had to split between two tables in order not to block the passageways between tables. The lighting is warm and inviting and everything is kept rather clean. It’s a place you can go and have good food that doesn’t look like a hole in the wall.

Food, food, and more food...

There are many, many choices available to try at Arpeggio. First, there is the Mediterranean side that has all sorts of foods like falafels, kabobs, and baba ghanouj. On the other side is another sort of mini-restaurant in the place called Tomato Shack that serves Italian food. Basic pastas are available as well as a good variety of pizzas. No one tried the Italian food, but it looked like it might be a fair deal if one was dying for some Italian. Personally, for myself, I wanted to try as much as possible so I got the Arpeggio Mesa Platter. The platter contains a little bit of everything Mediterranean and is apparently a popular choice. It was this huge Styrofoam plate full of different kinds of food. There was the beef and chicken shawerma, both nicely seasoned. Then there was the rice, which was also well made and not too spicy. The hummus was good. It was really quite smooth and had a distinctively sour taste. The tabouleh was a little spicy and tasty. Very fresh. The dolma was yummy, but a tiny bit on the soggy side. The baba ghanouj (the brown meatball-looking objects in the first picture) was also quite yummy, but very spicy. I think the platter was a great choice for trying a little of everything and everything was well seasoned and tasted right.

Pita bread with every meal

In general, everyone found the food pretty yummy.  You get a really good deal with the decent prices for tons of food so definitely recommended! Between our large group, we had the chicken, falafels, shawermas, grilled fish, steak, and special platters and no complaints about dinner choice. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and it’s a place we would like to go back to. The people were definitely very nice and the place seemed quite clean. There’s a white board with special deals and a menu in the back with pictures if you have no idea what you want.The guy calls out the number at the bottom of the receipt and brings the food to you. You might want to save yourself trouble and order to-go since you can still eat it there.

A whole half chicken that was delicious to the last bite

Afterwards, it looks like I barely touched the plate, but I came away with a very full stomach and enough leftovers for two meals. I think Arpeggio Grill is accomplishing its goals of providing tasty food for good prices to college students on a budget. Arpeggio Grill is right on the Drag, close to campus, so it is a convenient place to stop by and fulfill your Mediterranean craving.  Grab a pita and some hummus or a falafel to go, Arpeggio Grill is a great place to grab a meal with leftovers to boot.

Rating: 😛 😛 😛 😛 1/2 for tasty food at decent prices, tons of food that will surely provide leftovers and makes the price even better for your Bevo Bucks!