If you have ever been a budget traveller, you know that pasta is one of your best friends. It’s quick, cheap, filling, and can be found everywhere. It can be healthy or great hangover food, heavy or light, greasy or lightly seasoned. It can be found in multiple world cuisines. It can be made vegan or with egg. October 17 is National Pasta Day, so I set out to find a location that provides the best that pasta can offer.
I went to the budget-friendly, Italian pasta shop, Basil Pasta Bar, a go-to eatery in Vancouver. Located in Yaletown since 2010 (they also have a Kitsiliano location), this is a great spot that is within walking distance of some of Vancouver’s prime attractions, such as the False Creek Sea Wall, the Yaletown Roundhouse, Granville Street Entertainment District, Davie Village, and BC Place.
Basil Pasta Bar advertises authentic Italian cuisine on a budget. You can build your own pasta, definitely a big plus, or order a house special. This place is vegetarian friendly, but not vegan. Either way mains start at $10. I wanted to try the basil pesto sauce, so I decided on the Mediterranean Penne. I’ve also heard the Tiramisu is worth a shot, but, unfortunately, they were sold out.
There was adequate seating for the small Tuesday night crowd, but I can imagine that finding a place to sit later in the week could be a challenge. This is quite a small place. Having just come off a boot camp class and not wanting to irritate the diners with my sweatiness, I took my pasta to go. However, the atmosphere is quite casual. There’s no reason to change out of your yoga pants to stop in here.
I have to agree with some of the reviews on Yelp and other places that the pasta is not cooked al dente. It’s a little too soft. There was adequate basil in the pesto, but other common pesto ingredients – Parmesan, garlic, and pine nuts – seemed to be missing. As well, the vegetables were a little underwhelming in quantity and I don’t think the tomato was ripe. If I were to go back, I would pick a dish that doesn’t rely so much on the quality of the vegetables to be flavorful. Possibly I would choose a tomato or cream sauce. There was, however, a generous heap of goat cheese that boosted the flavour of the dish.
As well, the portions were good and I got my food relatively quickly. There was enough for me to pack half the dish away for lunch, because National Pasta Day is so good, we should celebrate it twice.
In summary, choose wisely and consider picking a strong sauce. Pros are location, price and portion. Cons are pasta cooked past the point of perfection and little frugal on the ingredients. Oh, yeah, and the sold-out tiramisu. Perhaps I’ll return on National Tiramisu Day.