Ultimately when it comes to the Pasta Factory it depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re in the area, craving Italian-American style food and just want to have a quick bite then by all means. But if you want something special, true Italian or even Italian-American made with a lot of heart – you should keep looking.
I stopped into the Pasta Factory at Muntplein for a work lunch yesterday. It’s right in the middle of the action – just across the street from the Bloemgracht or floating flower market and a short walk from Rembrandtplein. It’s prime real estate for an eatery and it seems to get quite a lot of foot traffic for this reason.
Along with Asian Kitchen and Pho King, Pasta Factory is one of the tried and true favourites around the office. Though from what I’ve heard Pasta Factory mostly made the cut because gluten free pasta is available. In any case, it’s one of our regular spots and I had already been twice before yesterday: once for takeaway and once to eat in.
The first time I ate at Pasta Factory it was a quick takeaway with my coworker NN. I ordered the sweet potato ravioli with ricotta, spinach and goat cheese. I deliberated a little because at €15 it was a really pricey takeaway lunch – the pork and shrimp fried rice at Asian Kitchen just a few doors away is only €9 and for me it’s easily enough for two meals.
But I caved. It was a cold day and I was really craving rich, creamy, sweet pasta. NN ordered the tagliatelle with salmon but substituted spaghetti. We sat down at a table to wait while our food was being prepared and I perused the menu some more.
For the most part it’s what most people outside of Italy would consider classic Italian fare. The starters consist of three kinds of bruschetta, two soups, olive bread and a caprese salad made with buffalo mozzarella. There are also a few different kinds of salad and a variety of focaccia including margarita, salami, verdura, and quatro fromaggi among others.
Mains are organized in terms of base (oil and garlic, tomato or cream sauce) and include classics like spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, carbonara, spaghetti aglio e olio and spaghetti bolognese – though strangely lasagna is under the oil and garlic section of the menu.
There are also a few desserts available – tiramisu, tartufo, strawberry cheesecake and affogato al cafe – vanilla ice cream and whipped cream topped espresso. While we were waiting for our food I noticed the desserts in a refrigerated display. They didn’t look bad and I thought about getting something but decided against it, reasoning that it’s probably not made in house.
Back at my desk when I opened my aluminum takeaway container I was surprised to find an entire round of goat cheese plopped onto a sea of rose sauce. It seemed like there was very little ravioli, and what was there was just swimming in sauce. Not a good start for a €15 lunch. But it was delicious. Maybe it was the cold or my cravings, but that first experience with Pasta Factory was everything I could have wanted and more. I didn’t even feel bad about the price.
The second time I went to Pasta Factory it was with a larger group – six of us total. I ordered the spinach salad with gorgonzola, apple, walnut and cherry tomatoes. It was good but nothing mind blowing. Others at the table ordered lasagna, focaccia, and different types of pasta – I didn’t try any but they all looked basically as one would expect – though the focaccia looked particularly good.
When we went yesterday (again with a larger group of five) I really wanted to try something different so I could round out my review. Ultimately the sweet potato ravioli was so memorable that I couldn’t not get it again. I had also talked it up so much that my coworker JG ordered the same thing. Two others in group ordered the penne verdure and NN ordered her go-to – the salmon tagliatelle substituting spaghetti for tagliatelle.
When our dishes came mine and JG’s looked quite impressive but ultimately he wasn’t impressed. He said the the best thing about the ravioli was the sauce and that it was “good but not great” – especially considering the price.
The magic had also worn for me too. For some reason this time the ravioli was nothing special. I noticed the stems left carelessly on the spinach and while we were eating a delivery of three large boxes of frozen pasta came in. So much for homemade pasta.
I started to really see the cracks around the restaurant too – scuffs and scrapes on the walls, cracked bar stools, haphazard Christmas decorations and an overall feeling of a place that’s a money maker on autopilot catering to one-off tourists rather than a beloved passion project run with commitment and heart.
Ultimately when it comes to the Pasta Factory it depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re in the area, craving Italian-American style food or just want to have a quick bite then by all means. But if you want something special, true Italian or even Italian-American made with a lot of heart – you should keep looking.
Until next time,