Renee Bouchard, whose son is the chef at Reserve at Newport on the Levee, is a pretty darn good cook herself and an incredible baker. She's also a woman with a dream, and she created this little pasta stand step by step over the first half of this year.
I first stopped there for yummy iced cookies when the stall wasn't much more than a table. Now, although baked goods are still available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the stand's been built outward with stained wood panels and has a double gas burner where hot pasta dishes are made to order from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Basically, you choose your pasta -- angel hair, linguine or penne -- or a flatbread if you're pizza inclined.
Then go for either marinara or alfredo sauce and start adding ingredients.
The list is impressive: roast chicken, Italian sausage, artichoke hearts, bacon, Kalamata olives, a half-dozen veggies and cheeses. Here's the kicker: All pastas, any topping, just $6. Such a deal!
On my first of several visits, I needed comfort food so I ordered angel hair pasta with chicken and broccoli alfredo, and it was heavenly and rich. Next time I went a little more Sicilian: penne with marinara, sausage, onions and artichoke hearts topped with Parmesan cheese.
My companion ordered flatbread with marinara topped with chicken, fresh basil and mozzarella. The crisp flatbread gets cut into nine squares, a nice size for sharing. When we got back to the office and dug in, we both agreed that the marinara could have used a little heat, but red pepper flakes are one of the options, so that's easy.
The pasta is al dente, and for carryout that can be a real art of timing. And the portions are almost shareable -- an option would be to do one $6 entrée and two side salads, either house or Caesar, with a choice of dressing at $3 each.
Of course, we had to have dessert, so we ordered two cookie bars to share: shortbread crust, apricot drizzled with white chocolate and raspberry with milk chocolate. Buttery and delicious! There are lots of other sweet options, though, ranging from individual-sized pecan or peanut butter pies to full-sized loaves of sweet bread to share.
If you're downtown and want to pick up dinner on the way home, Renee will take an order and basically make sure she's there for you to pick it up even if it's after her regular hours. Imagine how easy your vegetarian daughter and sausage-savoring son can each get their favorite dish, and you can add the sophisticated artichoke hearts and Kalamata olives just to your portion. No more watching them pick off your favorite additions.
Peace in the family, for just six bucks a head. Shalom.
Contact Anne Mitchell: firstname.lastname@example.org