Pasta Freska seems like it was opened by somebody who REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted to open an Olive Garden but couldn't afford the franchise fee. Olive Garden is widely considered the lamest restaurant in the world, suitable only for the mildly retarded and also for Sarah Palin supporters. So why would you want to emulate Olive Garden? I don't fucking know, but Pasta Freska sure as fuck does it.
I didn't think Pasta Freska would be too bad. I was excited at first because there's no menu. People kept telling me the chef comes out and asks you what you like to eat and then he surprises you with dishes made from your favorite ingredients, like an Italian omakase menu. That, of course, is a damn lie, because what you ACTUALLY get is the culinary equivalent of an orphan with a Kool- Aid mustache and a snot bubble and a very dirty blanket.
Dinner started off okay: the first course was eggplant, sliced into a slab and pan fried, topped with cheese and tomato sauce. This tasted remarkably like one of those crumbly Totino's party pizzas you can drunkenly buy at QFC at 2 in the morning.
A fairly standard Greek salad had green leaf lettuce and slices of Roma tomatoes, with tiny salty dots of feta cheese. The lettuce was fresh tasting, but the tomatoes were LAME: I just can't stand eating tomatoes that aren't bursting with flavor at the splendid juicy peak of summer's full blossom. Why bother even eating them any time other than late August? You might as well just lick a shallow pool of warm V8 out of a saucer.I'm loathe to call the next course "cheesy bread," because I'm sure there's some authentic Italian word for it like "bread-uccine" or "formaggi-loaf," but there's no other way to describe it. It was a toasty half- pipe of stiff Italian bread, topped with a glistening ivory slice of melted processed cheese and a pink blanket of creamy tomato sauce. The sauce had a lingering heat and was subtly sweet and tangy, and was the best thing about that fucking cheesy bread.
Penne pasta with Bolognese sauce was fine, if uninspired. The pasta wasn't overcooked, which was a pleasant surprise, but the sauce just tasted like college cafeteria tomato sauce, with a limpid tomato flavor and tiny granular bits of ground beef which clung bravely to the striations on the outside of the penne.
The fish course featured a nugget of seared tuna, rare in the center. This was good, but then they fucked it up by splashing the fish with a green skidmark of pesto sauce. I wish they hadn't put that pesto on there, but until mankind unlocks the secrets of time travel and I can go back in time to tell my past self to rinse the pesto off of the tuna before eating it, then I guess I'm fucked.
The chicken cacciatore was dry, which is too damn bad because in my experience the dark meat on a chicken is so hard to fuck up it practically cooks itself. But at least the sauce had some spice. The worst thing about the cacciatore was that they didn't make everyone eat it; the guy seated near me got veal.
Dessert was a trio of sweets. The first one was a dense chocolate cake. The second was spumoni, turquoise and orange in color: exactly the same color as every single thing in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The third was the thickest flan or crème caramel I have ever tasted, which could probably be used to seal a newly installed bathtub.
Pasta Freska certainly isn't as terrible as its mentor the Olive Garden. At least it's very cheap. It was a 7 or 8 course meal, and I personally drank an entire bottle of wine, and it cost only $55, including tip. However, they clearly aren't trying hard enough, so fuck them.
Rating: 5 bread- uccines out of 10
Pasta Freska is located at 1515 Westlake Ave North
For reservations call 206-283-1515