Pastablitz of White Marsh has held on for more than three years in the slightly forlorn Honeygo Square shopping center, which has a few vacant storefronts and a lot of business turnover.
If our recent visit was an indication, the restaurant has survived in its less-than-fantastic location with an inviting interior, good service and decent, if not spectacular, food. Pastablitz shares a name and general approach with two other Pastablitz outposts in Howard County, although the one in White Marsh is separately run.
The eclectic decor includes a toboggan on one wall and black-and-white stills from Italian movies, including La Dolce Vita, on another. Green and pink neon lights give the room a mellow feel.
The eatery caters to both sit-down diners and us carryout types with a menu heavy on pizza, pasta, subs and salads. During our visit, a group of teen-agers munched on subs and fries at one table; an elderly couple sat nearby, nursing a bottle of wine they had brought in to share, because Pastablitz does not have a liquor license. The service was so swift that I didn't even have time to try out the video poker machine in the back.
We tried three different pasta dishes; two were solid. Penne Arrabbiata ($7.95) featured a zingy fresh tomato sauce heavy on garlic and red pepper. The chicken piccata ($10.45) included two pieces of pounded breast meat over spaghetti in a delicious lemon-caper sauce, and topped with good-quality parmesan cheese. Unfortunately, a very traditional lasagna ($9.45) seemed a little saggy and had too much cheese.
A small, plain pizza ($7.95) was undercooked, which led to the dreaded cheese-oozing phenomenon, in which the cheese slides off the crust. We cooked it a while longer in the oven at home, which helped some.
Italian wedding soup ($3.95) brought together chunks of meatballs, spinach, bits of egg, chicken and an inordinate amount of olive oil. And a chef's salad ($5.95) was a medley of pink and yellow - cold cuts and cheese smothering a small layer of lettuce and tomato slices.
The only dessert was a cannoli ($3.95), which had a grainy sweetness that was quite appealing.
Food: ** 1/2
Service: *** 1/2
Waiting area: ***
Where: 11550 Philadelphia Road, White Marsh
Hours: noon to 9 p.m. Sunday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Prices: Subs, salads, pasta, pizza and entrees, $3.50 to $14.95; credit cards accepted
Outstanding: ****; Good: ***; Fair or uneven: **; Poor: *