May 17th, 2010 by Jihye Chang
The Fargo Marathon is this weekend, Saturday May 22! I signed up for the 2-person relay with a friend of mine but have not trained myself all that much. So I plan to make it up by eating lots of pasta before Saturday! I have written a few things about restaurants in the Fargo-Moorhead area on this blog, but today I will present a list aimed at fellow marathoners and runners in search of good carb-loading/ pasta options.
Taste of Italy (Formerly Isabella & Stella) – 608 1st Ave. (close to Broadway) 701-365-0608
Stella was my (and my husband’s) favorite choice for Italian food and pastas in FM area, period. Their Ravioli, Pappardelle alla Bolognese, Spaghetti puttanesca (all $13), Rigatoni con porcini ($18), Seafood spaghetti ($21) are all very delicious and reasonably priced. I know they use San Marzano whole tomato cans for their tomato sauce, which makes a big difference. (I persuaded Tony to sell me a can once and made a great Bolognese sauce with it!) Their strengths as a restaurant are how well they do the simple things – the basic pasta dishes and simple tomato sauce that make or break any Italian kitchen. Chefs here are not afraid of using a lot of garlic, and Stella’s pasta dishes are never salty or soggy. All dinner pasta dishes come with marinated vegetable appetizer, bread, and salad. Be aware that the service can be very slow, and the owner has a “personality.” Oh, and for their food the wine list is a bit sad. But the word is out – today (Monday, May 17th) I reserved a table for Friday (the day before the marathon) at 7pm, and already the restaurant was almost totally reserved for marathoners and carb-loading parties! (This restaurant changed their ownership in 2011. Some dishes are still same, some changed. No more marinated mushrooms, though!)
Toscana – 202 Broadway N. 701-235-9100
A lot of dishes here tend to be salty these days. (It was not the case when they just opened, but it has become that way and I don’t like it as much as I used to), but all the pasta dishes are reasonably priced and some of them are still pretty good. My husband likes their gnocchi, and I like their Piselli e prosciutto pasta. Their Arrabbiatta used to be good, but these days it’s too salty and too spicy for my taste. Also their shrimps (in any dish) tend to be too watery. Service is better than Stella’s.
Spitfire- 1660 13th Ave E. West Fargo. 701-478-8667
This restaurant is mainly a rib/roasted chicken joint, but 5-6 pasta dishes are on the menu. (BTW- their ribs are the best in town, if you would rather eat protein than carb.) My husband and I have tried their Diablo pasta with sausage, chicken and shrimp a few times, and it’s cheesy, peppery and tasty. Big portions, and satisfactory taste. Not anywhere near being “authentic Italian” but it’s good. Through many trips, I have not been disappointed at this restaurant, except getting a sad salad once. This would be actually a good restaurant to go after you run a marathon.
Granite City – 1636 42nd Street S. 701-293-3000
It’s been a while since I ate at GC, as they took some things I liked off the menu and their food tends to taste as if it comes frozen or pre-cooked, but a lot of people seem to like this restaurant. This place has 7-8 pasta choices on the menu, and almost all of them are parmesan or pesto-based. I recall trying a seafood pasta special, and it was not bad. Good beer selection and nice atmosphere.
This claims to be a “Mediterranean” restaurant. I ate at this place a while ago once, and today I went back to check out again. Spaghetti with bolognese sauce and meatballs (about $13, salad separate at $2.95) was not good at all. It had a very strange canned tomato paste flavor and was really salty, with very dry meatballs. Their Penne Arabbiata with shrimp ($14.95) was better, but it was also on the salty side. Both dishes were gigantic. You can probably go to this restaurant when you don’t want to go to Olive Garden/ when other restaurants are full. I suspect that the Greek dishes on their menu would be more successful.
There are a few other non-chain restaurants with pasta menu, but I have not eaten their pasta dishes:
Sarello’s is a very nice Italian restaurant in Moorhead (28 Center Ave. Moorhead, 218-287-0238), but the only pasta dishes on their menu are Lobster Ravioli ($24) and Penne Arrabiatta. ($17)
Basie’s is also a nice restaurant inside the Ramada Plaza Suite. (1635 42 St. S. 701-281-7105) I have eaten their steak and fish dishes, and they are what you expect from this kind of restaurant. It would not be my first choice of restaurant, but it has nice service, good food, and good menu. They feature 5 very interesting pasta dishes. (Thai red curry sauce on Linguini with crab and mussels/ gorgonzola cream sauce over linguini to name a few)
Doolittle’s – 2112 25th Street S. 701-478-2200
Doolittle’s pastas all have Alfredo-type sauce, so I have never ordered a pasta dish here. But their food is usually quite good, and the portions are big. Oh, and their kitchen is open until 11pm, which is a bit later than the norm for Fargo-Moorhead.
Lastly, Speak Easy is a locally owned restaurant in Moorhead with an extensive pasta menu and a cute, old-fashioned deco. However their food is not something that I would recommend highly. Their spaghetti with meatballs was only marginally better than Olive Garden or other not so high-quality chain restaurants.
Well, good luck to everybody who’s running! I hope it will be warmer than last year!