Or something like that.
It’s “penne time” on the East Village Podcasts blog where two local favorites match carbohydrates in a struggle of East Village of New York City pasta titans!
On the left, residing at 110 St. Marks Place (a.k.a. 8th Street) between 1st Avenue and Avenue A, it’s the penne from Paprika: “Penne alla Vodka e Salmone in Salsa Rosa.” – To you yankees, that’s “Penne Pink Vodka Sauce and Salmon.”
And on the right, hailing from 120 First Avenue between 7th and St. Marks Place, the diminutive yet mighty, La Casalinga, and its penne of my moment, “Penne al Vodka.”
Editors note: I never can taste the vodka in penne alla vodka but I just love ordering food with even the suggestion of hard liquor in it.
First Penne Thoughts
- Wikipedia tells us, “Penne is traditionally cooked to al-dente and served with pasta sauses such as pesto.” Pesto? Fie! Not this time.
- At $10.05 for La Casalinga’s and $10.95 for Paprika’s take-out penne, the first glance at cost proved a relative dead heat.
- Paprika had salmon in its penne. La Casalinga did not.
- Oh man, that’s a lotta pasta for one blogger to eat.
Next Penne Thoughts
I dove fork first into the penne from La Casalinga as the circular dish provided me an easy target. The yellow-ish, cheesy sauce was pleasing and, though my veins were likely hardening as I engulfed, the al dente pasta (just as Wikepedia had prescribed) wallowed comfortably and tasted great. Overall, the dish seemed ‘light’ to the taste. La Casalinga’s chef also threw in some peas that gravitated toward the center of the dish. Visually, the peas were appropriate but added little taste. Then again, when does anyone say, “Hey, those are tasty peas.”
On the side, La Casalinga included a few slices of standard italian bread and a pad of butter along with a cup of either parmesan or romano cheese (I’m not good with cheeses… not sure which is which unless it has a label.).
Reluctantly, I pulled the fork out of my La Casalinga pasta and moved on to the penne from Paprika.
The rectangular dish was filled with slightly smaller and redder pasta than the competitor’s and was decorated with tiny pieces of cooked salmon. As I discovered, the “Salsa Rosa” was salty and with a pronounced tomato flavor. Not a bad thing – just different. The salmon was a delicious and welcome addition with noodles that had been cooked slightly passed al dente and were a bit soft to the chew.
On the side for Paprika were healthly slices of grainy bread which made La Casalinga’s side seem like a Ritz Cracker. Paprika also included a couple of cups of the mystery cheese – was it Romano or Parmesan? Next time, I’ll send it to the lab. Paprika’s cheese side seemed the freshest.
It should be noted that not until I tasted each pasta did I pour on the parmesan (or romano). I wanted to get the full penne monty and live in its vodka magic. Once added, the cheese overwhelmed both pastas and their subtle flavorings.
With more sauce floating about the dish, La Casalinga’s penne provided for good dipping of bread. I slathered the cheese on and wiped the bottom of the dish clean. Paprika didn’t offer the same opportunity – but I will say that Paprika’s bread works well in La Casalinga’s sauce.
The Final Analysis
These pennes were both flavorful. With a more pronounced, salty, tomato flavor, the penne of Paprika offered a distinct difference to what seemed like a slightly less creative offering from La Casalinga. The salmon was a key addition, too.
Still, the creamy, cheesy penne of La Casalinga hit my East Village pasta spot. I loved being able to dip bread into the saucy dish which seemed ‘light’ for something that surely wasn’t.
The Winner: La Casalinga
Editor’s Note: Oh no, La Casalinga has closed!
January 13th, 2008
Entry Filed under: Food - Competitive