Barilla Restaurant: Drop Dead Gorgeous (And Authentic) Italian Food At Drop Dead Prices

When most of us think of Barilla, we think of Italy’s #1 pasta in a box and most of us have it on our kitchen shelves at home. But did you know about their three impeccably clean and authentic NYC eateries? I recently visited the Herald Square location at 108 West 32nd Street between Sixth and Seventh and was entirely blown away–and that is hard to do considering the fact that I am 100 per cent Italian and come from a household where all Italian food was made from scratch.

It is a long sleek space probably measuring 80′ X 40′ and there are outlets under every table around the periphery so that you can plug in your cell phone or laptop if you need to. This is a place where you can sit and do work if you want to–the staff is not going to chase you out (this is another plus of Barilla). You go up to a counter cafeteria-style to place your order, but you can asked that someone bring it to your table.

The atmosphere may be casual but the food is as good if not better than many pricey upscale eateries. The prices at Barilla Restaurant are in the cheap to reasonable range–a super large pizza with many great toppings include the Nobile, which includes about 8 ounces of prosciutto di Parma on top is about $13.95 and can easily feed three people. This particular pizza blew my mind (forgive me for using such a cliche but I was SO impressed). This pizza appears to be about 15″ in diameter and is piled high with arugula drenched in balsamic vinegar and XXOO and then topped with 6 to 8 ounces of prosciutto di Parm and a big pile of mixed blue and parmesan cheese. This is a real taste treat, and the dough is homemade on the premises–it has the perfect amount of softness, crispness and chewiness combined (as per the specifications of a fussy New Yorker who knows how pizza crust should be, LOL)!

Another big filler up with tons of meaty goodness is the Tagliere, aka Aperitivo All’Italiana, which is available in “regolare” and “grande.” Both sizes feature at least a few ounces each of mortadello, prosciutto di Parma, brie, parmesan, Greek olives, cornichons, hard salami and homemade golden brown triangles of bread made from the same dough used for the pizza crust. This is enough to fill you up and if you each too much, I guarantee you will not be able to move onto your entree. I had to get half of the “regolare” sized boxed up to take home. The “regolare” is very reasonably priced at $12.95.

I had to try the pasta at a Barilla Restaurant (that is a no brainer), so I went for the Tagliatelle Bolognese. While many of the pasta dishes are made with fresh pasta, this one was made with boxed Barilla but it was sensational. The noodles were the perfect texture and the homemade meaty Bolognese sauce was a knockout. (I bet that your native Italian great grandma cannot even make it this good!) The portion is about 4 ounces of pasta (uncooked weight)–which I consider the perfect entree portion, especially given all the other food that I had to eat here. (The pasta dishes are all very reasonaly priced at $8.95 to $12.95.)

I then moved onto a healthy entree–the Portopollo salad. This was juicy sliced chicken breast combined with grilled portobellos and peppers over mixed organic greens (but mainly Boston lettuce) served up with a beautiful balsamic viniagrette dressing and then topped with parmesan shavings. This dish is only 300 calories and oh-so-filling. I especially appreciated the tenderness of the chicken breast.

I had no room for dessert but I hear that the tiramisu and panna cotta–which you can get topped with homemade berry or caramel topping–are really world class here (both are priced at only $5.50 as well). I noticed someone a table over ordering the panna cotta “al frutti di bosco” and I nearly flipped my lid.  For more info on this great Italian eatery that anyone can afford as well as its two NYC sister restaurants, go to http://www.barillarestaurants.com. (Phone is 646-847-7171.) plan to go back in the near future to partake of another type of pasta and pizza and to have at least two desserts!

For those who do not have the time to dine in, you can order online and have your food ready in just fifteen minutes. Calories for each item are on the menu as well, which helps keep you from enjoying yourself a little TOO much, LOL!

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