You’re going to a new restaurant, a hot restaurant, a neighborhood joint. Wherever you might be going, we all have the same question: “What’s good here?”
So, we’re here to tell you the five most exciting, tantalizing, must-have dishes from the eateries you’re visiting.
Every minuscule detail at Pasta Louise is a beautiful homage to owner Allison Arevalo’s family: from the affectionately named Grandmother Wall—covered in photographs of her employees’ grandmothers—to the dishes that Arevalo learned how to cook from her own grandmother. “I lived across the street from [Grandma] Louise, and she taught me how to cook. Louise is also my middle name. Since I was young, Louise not only let me cook with her, but she also instilled in me the importance of family, and of eating together,” explains Arevalo.
Beyond opening a successful restaurant during the pandemic, Arevalo’s biggest achievement is the way she gives back to her community. The Pasta Rose Scholarship, named after her two nieces Jasmine Rose and Scarlet Rose, is a yearly scholarship awarded to Brooklyn high school students who have lost a parent to cancer. “In 2018, I lost my sister, Lenore, to cancer. When she was 37 she was diagnosed with stage 4 bladder cancer, and although the doctors thought she had a few weeks to live, she fought it for six years. This year we raised $15,000! The first place winner received $10,000, and the second place received $5,000. We worked hard all year to raise money through online auctions, events, specials at the restaurant … and it feels really good to make a big difference in the lives of these students who have been through something so difficult.”
Entering the Park Slope restaurant is immediately comforting, and feels really cool, too. We dined on a Thursday night, and the place was packed: families, young people on dates, parties celebrating birthdays. Pasta Louise is the kind of place you could bring anyone to, and leave feeling both happy and full.
- Whipped Ricotta with Fennel Oil
- Salt Baked Yellow Flame Beets
- Louise’s Lasagna
- Shrimp + Scallions
- Homemade Citrus Olive Oil Cake
Whipped Ricotta with Fennel Oil
Whipped ricotta seems to be on every menu right now, and for good reason. Who doesn’t love light, airy cheese spread on fluffy pieces of bread? An order comes with two pieces of focaccia topped with creamy house made ricotta, drizzled with a robust, earthy fennel oil. The bread has a crunchy exterior, soft inside, and is perfectly salted—overall, this is a great way to start your meal.
Salt-Baked Yellow Flame Beets
Golden salt baked beets lying on a bed of yogurt—the yogurt comes from Kesso Foods in Queens, and is seasoned with Aleppo pepper and grapefruit. The result is creamy, a little spicy, and slightly tangy. If we had to recommend one thing on the menu, it would be this.
14 layers of fresh mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, basil, and fresh pasta sheets. The top layer is crispy, and each forkful melts in your mouth. The pasta is thin, the cheese is gooey, and the heirloom tomatoes make a complex and pleasantly acidic contrast. This dish satisfied a need in me that I didn’t know I had.
Shrimp and Scallions Pasta
Everything about this dish is beautiful—from the presentation of thinly slivered scallions atop, to the al dente, house-made pasta floating in a rich, spicy, well-balanced broth. The texture of the daily changing pasta is incredible.. On this particular night, we were served lumache, but the restaurant rotates through a number of shapes including casarecce, creste di gallo, cavatelli, rigatini (a skinny rigatoni!), radiatori, campanelle, paccheri and fusilli. “The shape really just depends on what we feel like! Some of the shapes take longer to cook than others. We try to save those with a longer cook time to slower nights, like Tuesdays or Wednesdays… but generally, it’s just a whim! We don’t generally post ahead of time what the shape is, we like to keep it a surprise. Our regular guests really enjoy being surprised when they come in,” says Arevalo.
Homemade Citrus Olive Oil Cake
I don’t think you could go wrong with anything on their dessert menu, from the vegan dark chocolate cake with macerated berries to the tiramisu. Our favorite dessert by far was their olive oil cake, served with grapefruit and rose-flavored whipped cream. The whipped cream was pleasantly floral (but not perfumy), and the sweet-tart bruleed grapefruit pairs beautifully with the dense olive oil cake.
Feature photo courtesy of @finding_pretty_places.