I’m struggling to write this review because I don’t want to come off as a crazed Ellensburg Pasta Company fangirl, but I guess that’s exactly what I am. I’ve been wondering if my standards have changed a bit since moving to Ellensburg though. It’s not that I think small town restaurants are not as good as in the city, it’s just that our choices are limited and without a lot of competition it seems that more mediocre-to-bad restaurants manage to survive, where they likely would not in a bigger market. The point of all of this is to say that I’ve had some really good food in excellent restaurants in Ellensburg, but overall I miss the variety and quality I knew in Seattle (if you would like me to list the many, many things I don’t miss about Seattle, I’m happy to do that as well). But we’re talking about Ellensburg Pasta Company today, which I think is pretty great by any standards
I have a lot of feelings about Ellensburg Pasta Company and the are overwhelmingly positive. The atmosphere is great–somehow family friendly AND romantic. The food is very good despite the long menu. The service is friendly, efficient, and the whole place appears to be managed really well. Did I mention the cocktails and wine list are fantastic? I’ve eaten at the Ellensburg Pasta Company a total of three times now: once for lunch, twice for dinner, and all with a baby. Each visit has been lovely and almost everything I have tasted has been better than expected.
I am extremely finicky about my pasta and it’s been my favorite food since I first fell asleep in a plate of it as a toddler (I know my parents have photo evidence of this). It’s probably the cuisine I’m most critical of when I order it in restaurants, so I usually don’t order it at all. My family’s highest holiday is our weekly Spaghetti Sunday, so I’ve made a lot of pasta over the years and I’m really, really good at it (like, really good). Did I mention that I’m good at making pasta? Anyway, Ellensburg Pasta Company is not the best pasta I’ve ever eaten in my life, but I will gladly eat it anytime. One thing that family-friendly Italian restaurants rarely touch on is subtlety, but everything at this place seems to be executed with precision, restraint, and an appropriate amount of cheese.
Exhibit A: the spinach artichoke dip appetizer. Not only did it contain more spinach and artichoke than anything else, but it wasn’t smothered in half an inch of sticky, molten cheese either. Of course, it paired beautifully with the piping hot mini-loaves of bread that are served to each table with a plate of minced garlic, olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping.
Exhibit B: the chicken parmesan actually tasted like amazing chicken, not just sauce and cheese. I have a generally low opinion of chicken breast but this one was very lightly breaded and fried perfectly for a crisp exterior and seriously tasty meat topped with just enough marinara and mozzarella.
Exhibit C: I have tasted their vodka and gin martinis, manhattans, and old fashioneds and they’re all perfect– not even a bit of cheese! (But seriously, the things people do to classic cocktails make me weep). Shout out to Tyler, the bartender, and everyone else at Ellensburg Pasta Company for that matter, for doing their job really well.
But wait, I have criticisms too! First, I found the calamari strange. Although it tasted good, the batter didn’t stick to the rings at all so everything kind of fell apart. The shrimp rosetta–a linguini with creamy red sauce, shrimp, and artichokes– was too saucy but the sauce was good and the shrimp perfect. Maybe I just wanted more noodles. I’m kind of a pasta fiend.
I find the prices at Ellensburg Pasta Company to be reasonable with one exception. On our last visit I ordered the Lil’ Tots Platter (or something like that) for my eleven month old and he completely loved it, so I was really grateful to be able to order something at a restaurant that my pre-toddler (is that a thing? whatever) could eat without too much mess. While $6.95 for ramekins of black olives, canned mandarin oranges, deli turkey, and a packet of oyster crackers is ridiculous, I honestly couldn’t care less.
Like I said, I have a lot of feelings about this place. In case it’s not obvious, I recommend The Ellensburg Pasta Company without hesitation or conditions. Just go.
Ellensburg Pasta Company. http://ellensburgpasta.com/ 509-933-3330. 600 N. Main St. Ellensburg, WA 98926