Thursday, July 23, 2015

Rigatoni's Pasta: Prospect Park, PA

Gnocchi... yes
Photo Credit: TH
What: Rigatoni’s Pasta and Grill
Where: 611 Chester Pike (US 13), Prospect Park, PA
Order: Gnocchi in Blush Sauce

When I first moved into Delaware County, the building that now houses Rigatoni’s was an abandoned Cuban restaurant called the Distorted Papaya. It had closed before I was able to try anything there, and the building stood empty for several years. I had always hoped that a restaurant would move in there, but one that was unique and different to the area. The thing about Delco is that you can’t go two blocks without running into an Italian restaurant, which is a little better than having a Wawa located on nearly every corner. So when Rigatoni’s first opened up there, I was a little disappointed.

However, quality is the best distinguishing feature. While many other eateries in the area serve Italian food, few served it at the high quality that Rigatoni’s has for the last few years now. It’s one of my favorite places and one my family’s go-to spots for dinner on the weekends. It’s the best combination of both quality and quantity I’ve found in a non-buffet restaurant. The portions are huge, and more than likely are not meant to be eaten in a single sitting unless you’re Takeru Kobayashi or a person coming back from a major gym sesh. That goes double if you happen to partake a little too heavily in the unlimited salad and breadsticks that come with the meal. Yes, it’s biting off the Olive Garden MO just a bit, but trust me, the difference in quality is the same as comparing 1927 Babe Ruth to 2015 Ryan Howard.

I’ve had more than a few items off the menu, and all of them were really tasty. Oddly enough, the restaurant prides itself on its crabcakes, and I only find them to be okay. The pasta dishes are where it’s at though. On my most recent visit, I ordered the gnocchi in blush sauce, which came tossed with sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and spinach. My only complaint about the dish was that the mushrooms appeared to be canned and pre-sliced and not fresh. You can get away with canned or frozen vegetables in nearly every other situation except for mushrooms.

However, everything else about the dish was spot-on. The gnocchi weren’t too heavy or doughy. They had starchy body, but were light enough to get a good chew going. The tomatoes were tangy and added a nice bite to the dish. The real star of the dish, however, was the blush sauce, which is half-alfredo, half-marinara. It was the right combination of acidic and rich, and it was flavorful enough that I could have eaten just the sauce as a soup. My former go-to dish there was the carbonara, but I think I might have a new favorite on the menu.

Sometimes, the “same” thing can be good. It doesn’t matter if you do a similar thing to what everyone else is doing as long as you do it excellently. Rigatoni’s settled into a saturated market and put its foot down, and because of that, it has become the top spot for Italian in the area.