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Dan E

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Pasta Portion Size/American Fatness

by Dan E » Tue Feb 26, 2019 5:30 pm

I enjoy a well-made pasta dish on occasion when dining out. To give my fatness a backstory, I try to remain active, healthy, and sober Sunday through Thursday. At 37, I could probably still stand to drop 10 more pounds(20 if you want to be a dick about it), but I run and am in pretty decent shape.

I reserve Friday evening and Saturday do for being fat, drunk, and avoiding running at all costs. I love food, but limit my indulgence to maybe those two or three fattening weekend meals

All of this to say, sure I’m a fat guy, but for an American, I’m doing pretty well. As an American, I also feel everyone should share my point of view. So from this biased perspective, it is my assertion that restaurants should give me more pasta

My friends tell me that this is how it is done in Italy, and that pasta is often a secondary course rather than a meal itself. This is all fine and good, but I feel as though I’m consistently paying entree price for pastas on entree menus and getting 6 bites.

And I don’t even really typically eat that much. I typically will take half my entree home, except with pasta. There are plenty of exceptions. Cafe Lou Lou and ciao come to mind. And I like both of those places(bouyed by beer and cocktail programs respectively).

But I recently went to bar vetti and was disappointed by my serving. This isn’t a slam. I loved my experience and everything was first rate. We shared the fondutta and a Caesar. I ate all of my bucatini and I felt completely satisfied and full but not too full after.

BUT, it was literally 5 bites worth of bucatini. Delicious, but as a ignorant, fat entitled American, I wanted more. Ranting aside, i’ll definitely go back, so again, I don’t want this to come off as too negative regarding a positive experience that I still consider to be ultimately a very fair value.

So all this said, I don’t think I really have a point.

Thoughts on pasta servings? I’d like to hear from the restaurant side too.
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Robin Garr

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Re: Pasta Portion Size/American Fatness

by Robin Garr » Tue Feb 26, 2019 7:59 pm

Interesting discussion, Dan. I'm pretty fierce about portion sizes when I cook at home, because I don't want to blow up to the size of the Goodyear Blimp, so 2 ounces of pasta (as the main dish) or 1 ounce (as the side) is all I'll make per individual when I'm doing the cooking. I can't think of anyplace around town that doesn't serve a heck of a lot more than that, although I don't recall having pasta at bar Vetti, so I can't testify. (I did love bar Vetti, but that's a different discussion.)
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Jeremy Coker

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Re: Pasta Portion Size/American Fatness

by Jeremy Coker » Wed Feb 27, 2019 11:59 am

I will add another place to Dan's list of "I love the place, but these pasta portions are ridiculously small." Lupo is fantastic and one of my favorites but the portion of pasta is laughably small. It was as Dan mentioned literally 5 bites of food. It was delicious but...
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Andrew Mellman

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Re: Pasta Portion Size/American Fatness

by Andrew Mellman » Thu Feb 28, 2019 5:43 pm

We haven't been to Buca di Beppo in 30 years or so, and that's because of the size of a pasta serving . . . if I remember, it was somewhere around 4-6 ounces per person!

Back then I could eat that much (and the Louisville options just weren't there like they are now), but today seeing this much food on a plate is ridiculous.

I really don't want to "shame" anyone, but has anyone been there in the last few years? I heard they now have portions for two people, but wondered how big they were, and if the place is still quantity over quality.

One thing: they were fun for a party, bad wine, huge portions, and all!
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Robin Garr

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Re: Pasta Portion Size/American Fatness

by Robin Garr » Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:04 pm

Andrew Mellman wrote:One thing: they were fun for a party, bad wine, huge portions, and all!

And the Pope Room! :lol:
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Christina Hall

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Re: Pasta Portion Size/American Fatness

by Christina Hall » Thu Feb 28, 2019 11:21 pm

Try Bella Notte in Lexington. You can either order single or family serving size. My husband threatens that the next time we go there he is getting the family serving size, so he feels your pain!
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Adriel Gray

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Re: Pasta Portion Size/American Fatness

by Adriel Gray » Fri Mar 01, 2019 11:58 am

This conversation seems to be more about the price of pasta, not the portion size. All places mentioned will sell you another bowl as far as I know. The question is really, what should one pay for pasta? Is it made from scratch and rolled by hand? What are the ingredients used, and where are they sourced? What is that worth to you?

My two cents is we as American consumers have a skewed since of what it costs to make true pasta as we have been confused by commercial food processing and industrial ag practices. Of course I could be wrong and these places mentioned are just miserly in their food plating.
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Dan E

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Re: Pasta Portion Size/American Fatness

by Dan E » Fri Mar 01, 2019 1:04 pm

Adriel Gray wrote:This conversation seems to be more about the price of pasta, not the portion size. All places mentioned will sell you another bowl as far as I know. The question is really, what should one pay for pasta? Is it made from scratch and rolled by hand? What are the ingredients used, and where are they sourced? What is that worth to you?

My two cents is we as American consumers have a skewed since of what it costs to make true pasta as we have been confused by commercial food processing and industrial ag practices. Of course I could be wrong and these places mentioned are just miserly in their food plating.



I went back and re-read my original post. While it was typed on an iPhone and the grammar was poor, I didn't find any mention of pricing. I found the pasta portion at Bar Vetti to be small, and yet i still didn't say it was overpriced or not a good value because it was was well made and composed and tasted great, and I'm not sure what the standard line of thinking is.

I suppose that the cost of ingredients and preparation affect portion/pricing for all restaurant meals, so I guess it is relevant in that way.

But my question is about what constitutes a "good" portion of pasta, which I imagine varies from person to person. What makes a meal? I'll stop short of saying "money is no object", but if there is an established price for what i consider to be a generous portion of pasta, I can't imagine I'd have a problem paying it.

But I also realize that my personal thoughts and expectations don't establish a baseline for everyone, which is why I was curious what others thought.

However, after thinking about your pricing statement in real time as I typed the above, I didn't have a problem paying $20 for the sugo I had at Bar Vetti. I would consider 3 times that much (15-20 bites) a hearty portion that would leave me a decent amount of leftovers. And maybe I would balk at paying $60 for a big bowl of pasta.

So who knows?
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Leah S

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Re: Pasta Portion Size/American Fatness

by Leah S » Sat Mar 02, 2019 10:28 am

Interesting discussion. When making pasta at home, I also weigh out 2 oz size portions for each of us. I rarely order pasta out, not because I don't like it, because believe me, I like it too much!, (hubby refers to me as a pasta-tarian) but simply because I can make it at home. And fresh hand made pasta is excellent. That said, we did eat out for lunch yesterday, and the "lunch portion" was 3 raviolis. $10 with a salad. Fair pricing? Yes I think so, but those 3 raviolis were a little lonely. What I find more disturbing is high end pasta-forward restaurants who do not make their own pasta.
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Robin Garr

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Re: Pasta Portion Size/American Fatness

by Robin Garr » Sat Mar 02, 2019 10:50 am

Leah S wrote: What I find more disturbing is high end pasta-forward restaurants who do not make their own pasta.

Bear in mind, though, that a lot of classic Italian dishes call for pastaciutta (dried pasta) and don't work well with fresh. Fresh and dried have different textures, and that means they work well in different settings. I had cacio a pepe at a decent pasta-forward restaurant the other day, but fresh bucatini just shouldn't be a thing. The texture was all wrong.
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Ryan Rogers

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Re: Pasta Portion Size/American Fatness

by Ryan Rogers » Sat Mar 02, 2019 5:13 pm

Dan E wrote:So from this biased perspective, it is my assertion that restaurants should give me more pasta

My friends tell me that this is how it is done in Italy, and that pasta is often a secondary course rather than a meal itself. This is all fine and good, but I feel as though I’m consistently paying entree price for pastas on entree menus and getting 6 bites....

...But I recently went to bar vetti and was disappointed by my serving. This isn’t a slam. I loved my experience and everything was first rate. We shared the fondutta and a Caesar. I ate all of my bucatini and I felt completely satisfied and full but not too full after.

BUT, it was literally 5 bites worth of bucatini. Delicious, but as a ignorant, fat entitled American, I wanted more. Ranting aside, i’ll definitely go back, so again, I don’t want this to come off as too negative regarding a positive experience that I still consider to be ultimately a very fair value.

So all this said, I don’t think I really have a point.

Thoughts on pasta servings? I’d like to hear from the restaurant side too.

Hi Dan,

Thank you for coming into bar Vetti. If all of my years in the restaurant business have taught me one thing, it is that everyone has their own perspective, and though we try to please most we ultimately realize that we won’t be able to please everyone. Be it portion size, price point, heat level (spice and temperature), service style, so on and so forth.

This isn’t to say that anyone is incorrect in their perception, just that we all have our own preferences.

I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed the food and left feeling full.

There is certainly a lot of room for discussion about portion sizes in America and the Americanization of pasta sizes which would not be in line with my experiences in Italy. There is also room for discussion about this not being Italy.

We have been in discussion about offering two pasta sizes for people that may want larger portions and this certainly gives me more ammo to push that forward.

I can tell you that we make all of our pasta fresh in house with the best ingredients we can get our hands on and this certainly leads to a higher price point.

Also if I can disagree with something I will say that I disagree with Robin and have had some exceptional fresh bucatini, it depends on having the right extrusion equipment that can make the pasta at a high enough pressure to create a dense noodle and then cooking it properly. We’d welcome you into bar Vetti at any point to try it.
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Dan E

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Re: Pasta Portion Size/American Fatness

by Dan E » Sun Mar 03, 2019 9:54 am

Thank you for the reply, Ryan, and again, I hope I didn’t seem too harsh, as i ultimately found my experience to be quite enjoyable and plan on returning.

For the record, I ordered the bucatini during my visit and loved the texture of the fresh pasta and the way the hollow, ridged noodles held the sauce. To be fair, I don’t know that I’ve actually had dried bucatini to which to compare it. I will say that this bucatini had a toothsomeness to it not often found in fresh pasta. Idk if fresh pasta can really be al dente, but this maintained a structure while still being light and delicate

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