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Going Casual

Carolyn Jung | March 30, 2018 | Food & Drink Story Eat and Drink

Following a decade at the helm of Michelin-starred Plumed Horse in Saratoga, and even longer wielding the tweezers on equally precious haute fare throughout the Bay Area and beyond, chef Peter Armellino is finally getting a chance to get down and dirty—with good ol’ flour and water. He is doing so at his new Pasta Armellino. He hasn’t abandoned his post at Plumed Horse by any means, just added to it. In fact, he jokes he needs to get a new pair of running shoes, as he races between the two downtown spots, which are across the street from one another. “I haven’t done a casual concept since I was in my teens in New York,” he says. “I really enjoy working with pasta and cooking Italian food with the seasons. It’s just another expression of who I am. I thought this would be a fun venue to do.” Pasta Armellino is the newest addition to the recently formed Plumed Horse Collection, which includes the flagship restaurant, as well as Plumed Horse Chocolaterie. At the latter, which opened last year—also across from Plumed Horse—Angelica Duarte, a former server at the restaurant, handcrafts exquisite chocolates.

Following months of construction, the historic 2,500-square-foot building that houses Pasta Armellino was completely renovated, including preserving the 1890s original barn roof as a focal design element. Diners order at the counter, then plant themselves at one of 60 seats to wait until the cooks deliver the food to them. The concise, moderate-priced menu keeps it simple, putting the from-scratch pastas front and center, with selections that include orecchiette topped with beef short rib and housemade ricotta; pepper rigatoni lavished with Berkshire pork, smoked mozzarella and spicy Calabrian peppers; and tagliatelle laden with crab and uni. There are two soups and salads each, including mushroom soup with chive creme fraiche and focaccia croutons; and mixed greens with burrata and a lemon pistachio vinaigrette. For dessert, there’s affogato, the classic Italian treat of gelato and espresso. Those in the know can request the secret menu item: a stuffed pasta with a surreptitiously decadent filling. 14560 Big Basin Way, Saratoga, 408.216.8838

Originally published in the March issue of
Silicon Valley

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