Pasta Plus features fine-dining tour of Italy

Restaurant profile

August 15, 2002|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Pasta Plus' name might lead you to believe that it's little more than a fast-food Italian carryout joint tucked into the median of U.S. 1 in Prince George's County. According to owner Massimo Mazziotti, that's how it started almost 20 years ago.

Now, however, it is an authentic Italian restaurant, with murals of the Italian landscape on the walls and a relaxing atmosphere. With a brick oven for its gourmet pizza and a well-stocked wine cellar, this restaurant is one of the area's best-kept secrets.

"We realized there was a market for a fine-dining Italian restaurant here," Mazziotti said. "So a few years after we opened, we started transforming Pasta Plus into what it is now."

Over the years, the restaurant has developed a loyal clientele, who accompany Mazziotti and his brother Sabatino, who is a co-owner of Pasta Plus, on their annual trip to Italy. In addition, the restaurant offers fixed-price "wine dinners," for $55 from September through April, including "six or seven courses with six or seven fine Italian wines," according to Mazziotti. For information about the trips or the wine dinners, which are by reservation only, go to www.PastaPlus Restaurant.com.

All the pasta is homemade, as are the breads and most desserts. With more than 30 pasta dishes, there is something for everyone. For example, there's Paglia e Fieno (thin white and green noodles in a cream sauce with mushrooms and red peppers), Rigatoni with Salsiccia (rigatoni pasta with Italian sausage in tomato sauce) and Crespoline (homemade crepes stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese in tomato sauce).

Pasta Plus' other entrees are served with Italian bread, house salad and a side of pasta or vegetables, and include a variety of seafood, chicken, sausage and veal dishes.

For dessert, of course, there is cannoli, but Dolce di Latte (custard topped with caramel), Tiramisu and Zabaglione con Frutta Fresca are on the menu, too.

Expect a wait, so go early or call for reservations.

Pasta Plus

Where: 209 Gorman Ave., Laurel; 301-498-7878.

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday for lunch; and 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays for dinner.

Prices: $7.95 to $18.95

Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express

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