With the Tortellini Boscaiola ($10), Pazani (a combination of the words pasta, pizza and panini) delivers a rich cream sauce that's remarkably pumpkin orange for a rose.
This is a tenaciously clingy sauce. You could complain that the sauce isn't as silky as you might expect in a rose cream, but that's nitpicking. Any pasta style would work with this Boscaiola, but stick with the cheese-stuffed tri-color tortellini — Pazani presents it al dente.
Boscaiola recipes can call for sausage or bacon. Pazani uses prosciutto to subtle effect. Mushrooms and peas are also a part of the traditional recipe, and Pazani's kitchen includes those defining ingredients. The mushrooms lent an earthy note appropriate to this rather rustic recipe, and the peas contrasted nicely with the carb onslaught.
Pazani includes a simple salad of greens, onions and a couple small olives tossed very lightly in a vinegar and oil combo, a night-and-day contrast to the heavy pasta dish.
The kitchen also complements the table with a couple tiny loaves of rustic white bread with a thick crust that comes in handy when sopping up sauce that wasn't carried away by the tortellini.
Pazani's menu lines up six paninis, three flat bread sandwiches, seven subs and four calzones. Only one of those will cost you as much as $9. All the others are $8 and under. None of the subs cost more than $7. They sell pizza by the slice and you can get two or three of those for under $10. So lunch here can be had on the relative cheap.
If you're springing for pasta, out of 19 varieties, only five are $10 or under. On the other hand, none run more than $15. Judging by the Boscaiola, I'd return here for any of them.
In fact, Pazani may be a pasta-lovers find. The restaurant bills itself a trattoria but it looks like a suburban strip mall sub shop. You place your order at the counter and take a number to your table. It's as informal as a pizza-sub joint, feels like an after-the-soccer-game, bring-the-kids kind of place. But it tastes like a white tablecloth place.
One other tell-tale sign that Pazani is a serious Italian kitchen: Nowhere on the menu will you find the word "Alfredo."
Where: 6060 Marshalee Drive, Elkridge
Contact: 410-540-5777, eatatpazani.com
Lunch hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, noon-9 p.m. Sunday
Lunch entrees: $7-$15