Friend Joey and I visited Pastabilities, a suspiciously and conspicuously empty restaurant near my house in Asheville (Haywood Rd, West Asheville, near Taqueria Gonzalez). We went, to be sure, as something of a joke (note my tee shirt that I designed for the occasion), on a "mandate". Beth and the ladies went to one of my favorite restaurants in town, a Spanish tapas bar called "Zambra". As we walked to the restaurant, psyching ourselves up for the event, we admitted to eachother that we were both a bit jealous of the meal they were about to enjoy.
I must say, however, that I was, for the most part, pleasantly surprised by the place. The pasta and the chicken pargmigiana were exactly what I expected (pretty boring, very American), though even I was surprised and excited by certain things. Who, for instance, would have guessed that one could choose what kind of sauce they wanted on a dish like a chicken parmigiana? I could have chosen meat sauce (bizarre) or a butter garlic sauce (gross) instead of the normal tomato sauce. I was also a bit surprised by the fact that the chicken in the parmigiana was pre-cut (do they think me unable to cut my own food?). The pre-made and chilled salad, however, was pretty much what I had thought it would be, and left me thinking of hospitals and other clinical establishments.
The three cheese white pizza, however, with sausage and tomato added, was pretty good. It was garlicky and thin-crusted and cut into tiny little pieces. The service was great (except for at the end, when the waitress disappeared and I had to go find her to get a check) and the bottle of chianti (in a wicker basket) that we ordered went down pretty, pretty, pretty smooth....
Overall, I had a fine experience at Pastabilities, and while the pasta was pretty limp and the chicken was pretty mediocre, I certainly don't agree with the review offered by "Sneeze12" on the TripAdvisor website, who wrote:
"this is a horrible restaurant. i went there and it took the waitress 10 minutes before i even got a menu. i even saw a bug crwl across the floor! when i got my food it was still frozen in the middle. My husband said it looked like the cooks threw our dinner on the floor and put it back on the plate. DONT EAT AT PASTABILITIES!!!"
And, to be sure, when dining at Pastabilities, one is paying homage to an older way of life in West Asheville, and recognizing the efforts of earlier entrepeneurs, before the fancier places starting opening up on our side of town. So I, for one, will return to Pastabilities for sure, to enjoy some more pizza, a cold beer, a maybe even some of the live music that they feature every Thursday. According to our waitress, the music isn't "just country". The live musician also plays some other "southern rock" tunes such as Lynrd Skynrd. I wouldn't want to miss it.