While I was out with two friends on a Friday night, a craving for pasta overtook me. Thankfully, one of my friends recommended a place that was just the solution: the Pasta Bowl (2434 N. Clark St.).
The restaurant was busy, but it took no less than five minutes for us to be seated.
We shared an appetizer of calamari ($8), which was just enough for three people to enjoy. Calamari can be a hit-or-miss menu item, and I was happy that it was definitely a hit.
The squid tasted fresh and wasn’t rubbery at all. The cocktail sauce that accompanied it had a nice balance of acidic vinegar and sweetness, and it was a great way to begin our meal.
Two of us ordered the gnocchi aurora ($13.50), which came with tri-colored gnocchi, grilled chicken, mushrooms, smoked mozzarella topped with heavy cream and marinara.
The sauce was a perfect balance of a bold, fresh tomato flavor with just a splash of cream. One aspect that really stood out was the flavor of the chicken. Sometimes chicken can seem like a bland addition to a pasta bowl, but because it was grilled, it added a pleasant smoky touch to the dish.
There was a generous amount of mozzarella melted on the top of the pasta, adding an extra richness to the dish.
The gnocchi — a dumpling shaped pasta — was thick and chewy, making it a hearty dish, but was still soft on the inside and not too dense.
The plates were huge, and because gnocchi is a filling pasta, it could have easily served two people. We both had leftovers to take home.
My other friend ordered the spaghetti frutti di mare ($13), which came with shrimp, scallops, mussels, spaghetti, marinara and shredded parmesan.
There was plenty of different types of fish interspersed with the fresh noodles, and the bold marinara sauce worked well to bind the different flavors together, so she enjoyed her dish as well.
This will definitely become one of my go-to pasta spots in Chicago. The portions were priced appropriately, and each plate of pasta comes with bread. I appreciated the menu’s variety, our server was prompt and accommodating (splitting our checks three ways, even with a shared appetizer) despite it being a crowded Friday night, and I would go back to try other items on the menu.