27, 2003 — Forget
about the popular fad diet that calls for banishing all
carbohydrates. The pasta dishes at Pastázza are well worth
throwing that idea right out the window.
Tucked behind an attractive brick façade in Barkley Village,
Pastázza has been serving fresh pastas teamed with robust
sauces since January 1997, when owners Fred and Lynn Berman
moved to town after 14 years at the helm of prominent
Glacier-area restaurant Innisfree.
Newmarket St., Suite 101
11:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday
11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Friday
Noon-11 p.m. Saturday
Noon-8:30 p.m. Sunday
Serving: Outstanding handmade pastas and
Menu items sampled:
Mixed greens $3.50
Chicken Parmigiana $11.95
Greek penne $9.95
Chocolate pâte $5.50
Grilled chicken panini $7.95
One of the reasons Pastázza holds a special place in my
heart (aside from creating the best desserts in the county,
hands down) is the importance its owners place in using the
finest ingredients — local and organically grown whenever
possible — to create tasteful and nutritious
They've even installed a sophisticated, state-of-the-art
water filtration system used to cook all of their pasta, brew
coffee and tea, and wash their dishes. This attention to quality
shines in each and every dish that leaves their kitchen.
A recent Friday night found me and my friend Taya popping
into Pastázza without a reservation. We were fortunate to hit
it at a time when, although one of its dining areas was full,
there were several open tables in the second space.
The table we were led to was already set with silverware,
moss-colored linen napkins folded into neat triangles, salt and
pepper mills, and a flickering tea light in a clear glass
holder. An African violet peeked out of a Chinese takeout box.
I always take note of the sensational centerpieces at Pastázza.
You'll never see a silk flower, only fresh — and always displayed in a unique,
The surrounding walls in the two-story open space are a warm
yellow-gold, punctuated by honey-colored woodwork, tables and
A plate of freshly baked focaccia bread was brought to our
table soon after we sat down, accompanied by a saucer of olive
oil and balsamic vinegar. This springy bread is one of my
favorite rituals at Pastázza — each airy slice topped with a chewy
crust sprinkled and baked with cheese and rosemary.
Taya ordered a starter salad of mixed greens topped with the
restaurant's own thick, creamy gorgonzola dressing and a heavy
sprinkle of sunflower seeds. The array of fresh greens was
impressive, including arugula, frisée, baby kale, mizuna,
tatsoi, Osaka purple mustard and other baby lettuces.
Shortly after Taya's salad arrived, our attentive server
placed our appetizer in front of us. I'd never tried halloumi
before, but its description on the menu intrigued me.
Five circles of pan-fried sheep and goat cheese from Cyprus
were presented atop a bed of the same mixed greens from Taya's
salad, the golden edges of each round slightly browned by the
heat. The texture of this sophisticated appetizer was pleasantly
chewy, the salty cheese was complemented wonderfully by a sweet
yet tangy fig balsamic.
I've enjoyed many different Pastázza pasta dishes over the
years, my favorite being its three- mushroom marsala, a medley
of shiitake, portabella and button mushrooms simmered in a
marsala wine reduction and then tossed with al dente fusilli
You can create your own pasta dish, choosing from one of 13
versatile pastas and raviolis made on-site, crowned with one of
seven delicious sauces ranging from Putanesca to traditional
I've never sampled a pasta entree I didn't love at this
stupendous restaurant. But on this night I was in the mood for
its chicken parmigiana.
A massive Washington-grown chicken breast was lightly breaded
in seasoned bread crumbs, sauteed and topped with a generous
ladle of red sauce and finished with house-made mozzarella,
melted to a smooth consistency.
A swirl of spaghetti accompanied the entree, coated liberally
with more red sauce, a rich and hearty tomato sauce with chunks
of onion and lots of fresh, fragrant herbs. A dusting of
Parmesan capped the side dish.
Taya was drawn to the Greek penne, ribbed tubes of pasta
tossed with flavorful sun-dried tomatoes, calamata olives,
chicken stock, crumbles of feta cheese and thin ribbons of
spinach. Just enough oil had been added to give coat the pasta,
but not so much to induce guilt.
We both boxed up leftovers from our enticing entrees to save
room for a final course. All of Pastázza's desserts are the
creations of Lynn Berman and the restaurant's talented pastry
chef, Susan Sayegh, who have worked as a team for the past 12
Everything is sublime on Pastázza's lengthy dessert menu,
and after much debate we went with an order of chocolate pâte
Two thick triangle wedges of smooth, dark bittersweet
chocolate — their centers the consistency of
ganache — were layered one atop the other,
skimming a sheet of sweet raspberry sauce and topped with a
perfect scoop of icy raspberry sorbet.
The only thing I would change about Pastázza is adding its
lunchtime sandwiches to its dinner menu. Its grilled panini
sandwiches are my favorite, but I rarely get away for lunch.
Sadly, this means I only enjoy one once or twice a year. Pastázza
serves three variations — chicken, turkey, and goat cheese — as well as a tuna melt.
My favorite is the grilled chicken panini. A gargantuan
rectangle of fresh baked focaccia, complete with dark grill
marks, is stuffed with layers of grilled chicken breast,
Jarlsberg cheese, basil pesto aioli, baby spinach leaves and
slices of tomato. The flavors meld together to form a flavorful,
memorable sandwich. Each panini is served with salad or soup of
Pastázza is a vegetarian's dream restaurant.
While grilled chicken breast, chicken sausage, salmon,
scallops and other seafood items can be added to any dish to
satisfy meat-lovers, the majority of its offerings are entirely
Visit the restaurant's Web site at www.pastazza.com
to see its full lunch and dinner menus and learn more about the
philosophy behind this fabulous eatery.
Fine Print: I dine on my own dime. The opinions herein are mine
alone, not The Bellingham Herald's. Agree? Disagree? Please drop
me a line at StaceeSledge@hotmail.com.