Pasta Plus features dining tour of Italy

Restaurant profile

Howard Live

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

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.

Choose from among Gamberi Fra Diavolo (shrimp sauteed in white wine served in a marinara sauce with hot peppers), Linguine Frutti di Mare (mussels, clams, scallops, calamari and shrimp over linguine in a white wine or marinara sauce) and Fettuccine with Smoked Salmon (smoked salmon served with onions and peas in a cream sauce over a bed of fettuccine) for the seafood entrees.

Chicken entrees include Chicken Cardinale (chicken breasts in a creamy tomato sauce with mushrooms) and Chicken Cremoso (chicken breasts with white wine, fontina cheese and plum tomatoes). Veal entrees include Veal Carciofini (scaloppine of veal sauteed in white wine, butter and artichokes) and Veal Pizzaiola (scaloppine of veal sauteed with wine, tomatoes, capers, green olives and gherkins).

Also available are Sausage Calabrese (Italian sausage in tomato sauce with garlic and mozzarella cheese) and Sausage Casalinga (a combination of mild and hot Italian sausages lightly seasoned and served in a homemade tomato sauce with green Tuscany peppers).

For dessert, of course, there is cannoli, but Dolce di Latte (custard topped with caramel), Tiramisu (lady fingers dipped in coffee with a touch of liquor and topped with Mascarpone cheese) and Zabaglione con Frutta Fresca (fresh fruit with Marsala wine zabaglione)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. Friday and Saturday and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday for dinner.

Prices: $7.95 to $18.95

Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express

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