Sep 29, 2011

Solo Pasta


Solo Pasta is a popular Italian eatery in the east district closeby to the Dwun Nan Eslite. According to the 2011 best Taipei restaurant poll by this restaurant is tied for first with Papa Gio for best Italian. Their pasta seem to be on the lighter side and might be more than the denser American-Italian pastas, but they have well cooked pastas and fresh sauces to each dish. Expect to spend around 500 dollars per person if you want to get an appetizer a main entree and a drink. Try this place out if you are looking to enjoy some good Italian food in a cozy setting.

Phone #: 02-2775-3645
Business Hours: 11:00-22:00
Website: N/A
Accepts Credit Cards: yes
Price Range:   $$$
Attire: casual
Good for kids: yes
Take out: yes
Waiter Service: yes
Outdoor seating:  no
Alcohol: yes


Food Quality: 3.5 out of 5
Decor:  4 out of 5
Service: 4 out of 5
Overall: 3.83 out of 5
Recommendation: Light Italian Cuisine.

 The decor is very cozy. The space is dimly lit with lights spread out at selectively. You can peer into the kitchen through an interesting curved opening in the wall. The chairs were comfortable enough and the tables were sufficiently spaced so that you didn't feel crammed. The servers were kinda delayed in their reactions, but once they spot you they seem to try their best to respond as quickly and warmly as possible. I also came sometime near their end of their shift so maybe their focus and kindness were slightly withered away. I don't like how they don't bring you your bill to the seat here and still have such a high menu price. It seems like for what I get the service should be good to the point where they can take care of the bill while you are seated. I ordered a glass of their house wine, a cauliflower bisque, and a plate of cherry tomato linguine with clams.
 The house wine was only 100 NT, so it was probably some really cheap Italian wine. At least it says on the menu that its from Italy. This one was tart and fruity and very luscious. It wasn't too bad as a table wine to knock back.
 I also got this Cauliflower Bisque for 120 NT. It seems to be the product of cauliflower whacked up in a food processor and then simmered with milk and butter, then topped off with olive oil and some pepper flakes. The soup was frothy and had a hint of the flavor of cauliflower. I think the cream rounded off the cauliflower making it less pungent. If you had straight cauliflower, you could probably imagine how too much of that aroma could be too much. The pepper barely helped eccentuate the soup, but the touch of olive oil added some light richness to the bisque. I would get this again or some other soup they offer. This was actually a passable soup, which is hard to find in Taiwan. Usually their "Thick Soup/Chowder" (濃湯) is not thick enough. This had right texture to be deemed a bisque and an refreshing and enjoyable flavor. Also, this is one way to get more vegetables in a very limited appetizer menu. They don't have set meals here like other restaurants (set meals available only during lunch), so you will have to mix and match a la carte.
My main entree was this cherry tomato linguine with clams for 260 NT. I didn't know how literal they were with the description of the dish. It truly was linguine with cherry tomatos and clams. I asked for something with tomato sauce, but they presented this to me. I probably have not eaten authentic Italian food, but this is way too light for my tastes. This might be perfect for the Taiwanese women packing this restaurant. You can defintely expect to get something refreshing, light, and healthy here at Solo Pasta. I did not extremely enjoy this entree, but I did not think it tasted bad either. It just wasn't what I had in mind for linguine with clams. They should market this as cherry tomato linguine with a side of steamed clams. I thought they at least had some sort of thicker, denser, more flavorful sauce to hold all these items together. But no, they did it healthy. The linguine had some light olive oil, but it was mainly flavored by the light juices from the cherry tomato, some chopped basil, and a hint of clam juice. The clams were slightly dry, not fresh and juicy. They were ok for what they were, but they were not seasoned so well and occasionally you get an annoying crunch while eating the meat portion (probably sand or shells). I appreciated the quality of the linguine itself though. It was cooked al dente and there was not a single dry or poorly cooked strand of linguine. It was just a shame such a well cooked linguine wasn't paired with a better sauce.
I need to try Papa Gio next to get a better understanding of the best Italian Taipei has to offer, and I will also need to come back to Solo Pasta and give them another chance. I wanted to like this place, but I wasn't so impressed. Perhaps I ordered the wrong entree and did not give them a fair opportunity to wow me. They suggested the squid ink pasta or the duck breast with balsamic cream spagetti, but I wasn't feeling those two at the moment. I wanted something rich and tomatoey at the time, and they did not have a product that filled what I wanted. Next time, I'll try the duck breast with balsamic cream spagetti. I almost instantly regretted not ordering the duck breast pasta when they plopped that plate of cherry tomatos, noodles, and clams on the side.
It's times like this that make me miss the ubiquitous Italian restaurants in California that almost always don't disappoint with their marinara based linguine with various ingredients (prawns and lobster linguine in this case). And this is just some neighborhood Italian restaurant called Farfalle in a city called Thousand Oaks.
Taipei has a lot of room to grow in terms of of good Italian restaurants. If Solo Pasta is like this, then I wonder what Papa Gio would be like. I'm pretty sure there has to be better Italian restaurants than those two in Taipei, but it might just come with a greater cost...(That plate pictured below was $30) so it's probably not fair to compare it with 260 NT.


joanh3 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
joanh said...

that linguine is one of my least faves that i've tried at solo. my favorite there is the balsamic pasta with duck and one of their signature dishes. you have to try that next time. or the "cat's ears" which is a close second. or the squid ink pasta. i guess none of those have tomato sauce, but those are the top 3 dishes at solo

Johnny said...

Thanks~I'll have to try those out

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