Noodle counters may be fairly ubiquitous in New York City, but thus far, they’ve served mostly ramen or, perhaps, another Asian staple, like soba or udon. But pull up a stool at Pasta Shop (234 Starr Street, Brooklyn), a new noodle counter in Bushwick, and you’re going to get carbonara, cacio e pepe, or ragu, not tonkotsu.
Indeed, owner Antonio Pergoli Campanelli, a native of Rome, derived inspiration from noodle joints he experienced while working in Asia when he opened this place. He’s outfitted his narrow space with a bar and a wall counter, shellacked the walls with subway tiles, and kept the ceiling exposed, the floor cement.
Campanelli assembled a team of Italians for this concept, and together, they’ve installed a menu of about 10 pastas, some of which are staples of his home city (see the rigatoni alla amatriciana, for instance), and most of which are priced below $15. They’re supplemented by a board of appetizers like meatballs and bruschetta and a drinks line-up that includes the entire collection of San Pellegrino sodas — including bitter chinotto — but no alcohol, at least for now. (There’s a growler shop next door, though, and a wine store around the corner, if you’re looking for supplementary booze.)
Perhaps thank its quiet opening, but Pasta Shop isn’t seeing the buzz it’s Asian counterparts often command in this city; when we stopped by for a bite, the place was running at a lazy clip, with a few groups huddled at the counter, a server chatting each person up for a bit before taking an order. That gives the place a nice neighborhood feel — and the crowd looks extremely local at the moment — but if you’re after the no-nonsense quick service a counter joint usually provides, look elsewhere.
Of the three pastas we tried, the cacio e pepe was the best; thick, long strands of pici came richly slicked with butter and dusted with black pepper, which zaps each bite with gentle heat. Our weakest link was the ragu, a meaty tomato sauce smothering a nest of fettuccine. Each dish could have used more seasoning, but that one, in particular, needed more salt in order to make the acid of the tomatoes really shine. The carbonara was more subtle than most versions you see in this city, the egg and sharp parmesan clinging thickly to each tube of rigatoni, the cured pork strangely bland.
Come weekends, Pasta Shop also serves an Italian brunch.
The place is open for dinner nightly and for brunch on weekends starting at 11 a.m. See the next page for more photos.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 30, 2014