Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pasta Blitz

We find ourselves at the Fairgrounds Plaza shopping center on Aylesbury Road on a fairly regular basis. Sometimes we dine at Yamato Sushi, other times, we're grocery shopping. (At the start of the school year it's worth the drive to Timonium in order to bypass the zombie-like Towson University students debating the merits of Skippy over Jif in supermarkets closer to our home.) Just about every time, I'd look at the sign for a restaurant called Pasta Blitz and wonder just how good the food could be at a place that uses such a Mickey Mouse font on their signage. (Literally, the font is based on a stylized version of Walt Disney's handwriting.) Ironically, the word "blitz" doesn't conjure up as warm and fuzzy an image.

But, as it turns out, the food is pretty good.

We read somewhere that they serve "New York-style" pizza, our favorite, so we forced ourselves past the signage. Inside the restaurant, we found warm terra cotta walls festooned with fake grapevines and a second, friendlier, name on the menu, "Il Basilico." Il Basilico serves not only NY style pizza, but also the thicker Sicilian variety, in addition to various pastas and grilled dishes. On our first few visits, we stuck to pizza, trying the "Bijoux," a white pizza with calamari, tomatoes, and mozzarella, and the "Di Pierno's," with mozz, arugula, and grilled shrimp. Both were quite nice, with a thin, foldable crust, tasty toppings, and lots of garlic. While the pizza crust is good, their artisan-style homemade bread is even better - chewy and crusty, with a springy crumb. It's nearly impossible to stop eating the bread, which is a dumb thing to do when waiting for a pizza, but hey - pizza is perfectly doggie-baggable!

On our most recent visit, we tried a more straightforward pie with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and pepperoni. While the crust was a bit paler than we like, it still possessed a crisp-yet-foldable texture. The amount of pepperoni could have been more generous, but otherwise there was a good balance of crust to sauce to cheese.
NY-style pizza with pepperoni
We also tried a plate of linguini with shrimp in a "fra diavolo" sauce. What we received was a visually gorgeous plate that packed a real punch of flavor. "Fra Diavolo" means "brother devil" in Italian, and Satan himself must have been the devil in question this evening, because the sauce was pretty damn hot. While lip-tingling-ly spicy, the sauce was also full of bright tomato flavor and a healthy tinge of the shrimp's brininess along with a refreshing bite of parsley. And tons of garlic. For those of us not afraid of heat, it was pretty glorious.

Linguini with shrimp fra diavolo
We also sampled a side dish of asparagus in a cheesy sauce. The sauce seemed like it would be a much better accompaniment to broccoli, but the asparagus was perfectly cooked and we gobbled it up in between bites of spicy pasta.

Asparagus in a butter and cheese sauce
In addition to being delicious, the food at Pasta Blitz/Il Basilico is pretty reasonably-priced. The bill for our dinner of pizza, pasta, asparagus, and one beverage came to a little over $36 before tip, and we took home enough pizza for another meal, plus a lunch-sized portion of pasta. (Yes, we filled up on the bread.)

It was definitely worth the effort it took to get past the sign. In fact, I'm going to try to forget it's called Pasta Blitz at all.

Pasta Blitz/Il Basilico
49 W Aylesbury Rd
Timonium, MD 21093
(410) 453-6603

Pasta Blitz on Urbanspoon

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