As most lovers of Italian food know, there is a world of difference between pasta out of a box and pasta that is freshly made. But even within the category of fresh pasta, there can be substantial differences in quality, as is proven by the top-notch quality of what the Pasta Market Cafe in Malden serves. This cozy little restaurant seems to do fresh pasta better than nearly any restaurant this writer has tried outside of the North End. Add to that the bonus of relatively easy parking and you have yourself a winner if you are a pasta fiend like yours truly.
The Pasta Market, which is located in Judson Square (just south of Malden Center), is housed in a standalone building that looks like it may have been a bakery or a pastry shop in a past life. Situated in the middle of a fork in the road, it can be easy to miss, especially if you are approaching it from Everett rather than from Malden Center. The interior of the restaurant is rather attractive, with exposed brick, ceiling fans, an open kitchen, and a tiled floor. There are only a few tables inside the place (as well as some counter seating), so many diners indeed opt to do takeout.
The menu at the Pasta Market used to be relatively limited, but it now has something for everyone, and nightly specials that are written on the board add even more choices. A few appetizers are offered at the Pasta Market, including a fresh Caesar salad that is big enough for two people; a plate of bruschetta with fresh mozzarella, balsamic vinegar, tomato chunks, and basil; and an artichoke limone that includes tender artichoke hearts coated in a rich egg batter and soaked in a wine, lemon, and butter sauce.
Some of the main dishes available at the Pasta Market include a parpadelle pesto that has freshly made pasta mixed with a fairly complex pesto sauce that leaves a slightly bitter, peppery taste after eating it; a mouthwatering plate of smoked mozzarella ravioli that comes with a savory garlic oil and romano cheese sauce; another ravioli dish, namely the earthy-tasting wild mushroom ravioli in romano cheese cream sauce that is mixed with peppers and mushrooms; rigatoni alla boscaiola, which comes with pasta, ham, mushrooms, zucchini, and a pink sauce that is rich and not overly sweet; a five-cheese tortellini with rich-tasting sun-dried tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, and that same great pink sauce; and a shrimp scampi pappardelle that has sauteed shrimp over fresh pasta in a delicious mix of garlic, white wine and olive oil. Pizza lovers should not ignore the Pasta Market, as their pies are also very good--the margherita pizza seems like it might be made from an old-fashioned Italian recipe, with a chunky tomato sauce, flavorful slices of mozzarella cheese, and fresh pieces of basil on top. For those who are looking for something other than pasta, the restaurant does have plenty of chicken, veal, and seafood dishes, as well as risotto. Desserts include a rich chocolate cake, a terrifically decadent chocolate creme brulee, and the always-popular tiramisu, while beer and wine is also available. One note: Pasta Market does not take credit cards, so be sure to bring cash if you go.
The Pasta Market Cafe isn't very well known, possibly because it is a bit hidden away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Malden, but it isn't all that difficult to find. The place does have a legion of loyal followers who can't get enough of the food here, and for good reason; it would be tough to come up with many restaurants in the Boston area that match the freshness and quality of the pasta at this unpretentious little dining spot. If you are a pasta lover (and who isn't?), the Pasta Market Cafe quite simply blows away most other places in the Boston area.
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