Mange to Basta! My Pasta Freska Experience.

Pasta FreskaMy dad recently turned 78 and for his birthday my upwardly mobile parents and I journeyed to Seattle by Amtrak for the weekend. I highly recommend the train – it’s a great way  to travel down to the “Emerald City”. I wanted to make my dad’s birthday meal memorable so I did what every Foodist does – start research and inquiring, asking for recommendations and referrals, until I found “the one”. This time it was “Pasta Freska”.

I was forewarned, by a good friend, that this was an unconventional dining experience where the chef does all the ordering for you. I needed to learn more. Heading to the Pasta Freska website I tried to find a run down of dishes or some semblance of a menu – but there was nothing.

One blurb said, “How often would you like to just sit down without having to make your own decisions, and just know that whatever comes out of the kitchen will be warm, fulfilling, amazing Italian food like you hear ‘grandmother’ used to make?!?  Then Pasta Freska Italian Restaurant is for you.”

I then read a review by CNN Travels which said, “Pasta Freska on Westlake Avenue is a favorite with commenter andman. This small Italian restaurant skips the dinner menu altogether. ‘Just tell the owner, Mike, what you like and don’t like, and the plates start rolling out. Amazing place!’”

This was a risky choice, especially with picky parents that prefer the familiarity of White Spot and The Keg, but I figure you only live once and since my dad is getting up there, I took a chance and made a reservation for three.

We arrived to find a narrow building sandwiched between two high traffic intersections. It looked old school enough but maybe too old school? I’ll admit I was a bit nervous. JenkinsItalianAuthenticity-Post

Once seated we were introduced and invited to dine by restaurant owner Mike Horri. Gregarious, warm, and kinda flirty (always fun), he joked with my parents and then asked us individually if there was anything we didn’t eat. My mom looked a bit terrified and strongly suggested, as she would, that she didn’t eat seafood.  Mike pushed back and made her admit that she liked halibut.  Then he left our table.

Fifteen minutes later our first course arrived – a cheesy garlicky eggplant parmesan that I still salivate just thinking about – followed by an additional NINE other courses.  The food was spot on and delicious, including the paella that my mother happily ate considering if was full of mussels, clams and prawns.

There were so many fun elements of the meal including the variety at our own table. As some courses arrived we discovered that they were differing dishes but featured the same ingredient. For the fish course I had sea bass with a roasted red pepper sauce, my dad had salmon in a garlic cream sauce, and my mom received her halibut – naturally. For the pasta course my dad had the spaghetti bolognaise, while my mom and I were given the penne primavera. For the chicken dish my dad received a chicken cannelloni, my mom a chicken cordon bleu, and I a chicken thigh.

It was complete fun having these variety of dishes arrive, not knowing what they would be, who would get what, and why we received the dishes we did. It was definitely adventure dining.

My dad summed it up by exclaiming, “This is like Christmas Morning!!!”  I had to laugh – it kinda was.

Each and every plate was so full of flavor so we kept on with the “mange’ mange’”, and didn’t say  a “basta basta “ until it was all said and done at Pasta Freska.

Here’s the run down of our 10 course meal but of course in true Pasta Freska style yours will be completely different.

1) Eggplant Parmesan

2) Garlic Bread

3) Salad

4) Steak

5) Fish: sea bass, salmon, halibut

6) Paella (clams, mussels, prawns)

7) Cheesy pizza bread

8) Pasta: spaghetti bolognaise, penne primivera

9) Chicken: Cordon bleu, Cannelloni, Chicken Thigh

10) Dessert: 3 ice creams, crème caramel, tiramisu, chocolate layer cake


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