Cry Baby Pasta opened to a packed house in mid-January.
Billed as “a place for pasta and wine,” this is a new offering from a seasoned quartet of local food professionals: lifelong restaurateur Bridget Foy, her husband, beverage manager Paul Rodriguez, chef David Gilberg, and his wife pastry chef Carla Goncalves.
The team has a strong Philadelphia resume. Foy was literally raised in the eponymous restaurant Bridget Foy’s, which burned last year but is in the process of being rebuilt for a September launch. Rodriguez has handled beverage and front of house for the Jose Garces Group and Ellen Yin of Fork. Gilberg and Goncalves launched the acclaimed Portuguese restaurant Koo Zee Do in Northern Liberties.
Foy describes the menu as non-traditional Italian, with all pastas made in house, along with salads, crostini, a selection of hot appetizers, grilled meats and vegetables, a small selection of non-pasta mains, and house made desserts. The beverage selection is impressive, with unique cocktails, a good selection of moderately priced Italian wines and an assortment of craft beers.
Kosher-style diners have plenty of good options — and, being an Italian restaurant, also a number of options to avoid (the menu does feature several pork items and foods that mix dairy and meat, but there are good number of dishes that do not.)
Our party of four started with the buffalo mozzarella bruschetta topped with basil honey. It was deliciously simple and simply delicious. Other bruschetta selections included garlic butter, chicken liver with balsamic onions, mushroom and grilled sardines.
We also split “Bainbridge greens,” a spicy sautéed mélange of Swiss chard, spinach and kale topped with toasted bread crumbs. Our final starter, grilled artichokes, were equally tasty, drizzled with a thick, robust balsamic glaze. Other appetizers included charred broccoli, crispy potatoes with pesto and meatballs.
Salads were similarly swell, and generously portioned, especially if you plan to try several courses. My husband and I split the arugula salad, which was tossed with roasted grapes, celery, gorgonzola cheese and hazelnut dressing. Our friends split the Caesar, a high-quality version of the classic.
The pastas really are the stars of the show, with eight house made versions nightly. Spaghetti with pomodoro, cacao pepe and basil pesto are simple, straightforward, excellent version of these Italian mainstays. Campanelle is another good choice for Exponent readers; bell-shaped pasta is tossed with broccoli rabe, bread crumbs and fiore sardo, which is a wheat-based grain similar to couscous. Main dishes include branzino, chicken francaise and mushroom farotto, but we only had eyes for the pasta.
Dessert was dreamy. On opening weekend, the selection was small, offering only torta di nonna and an assortment of gelato. But it was enough; the torta di nonna was a generously portioned single-serving pie filled with vanilla pastry cream and topped with a pine nut crumble. It is a perfect size to split among two people.
Prices range from $3 for garlic bruschetta to $22 for the branzino. Appetizers and salads are in the neighborhood of $10, and pastas around $15.
If you go:
Cry Baby is open for dinner.
627 S. Third St. (corner of Bainbridge Street)