Just as the Italian name implies, pasta is about as fresh as it gets at Pasta Fresca. Pastas are house-made. Ingredients are fresh and flavorful. The pleasant smell of garlic, olive oil and basil wafts out the door and into the parking lot. Favorites are the chicken lasagna, ravioli and pesto. Order cheese bread, garlic bread and loaded bread with garlic, mozzarella and parmesan. Bruschetta and crab bisque are other favorites. There are stuffed pastas, such as lobster ravioli and the Pasta Fresca ravioli with a blend of spinach, walnuts and cheese. There are also traditional marinara dishes. The Alfredo Fresca has button mushrooms and green peas. Chicken or shrimp can be added to some pasta dishes.
Pasta Fresca is not only known for its pasta dishes, but also for its tiramisu. It is made by the restaurant’s pastry chef, as is the chocolate mousse pie, cannoli, lemon berry cake, and dessert of the day. Bread comes fresh from Nova’s Bakery in Charlotte several times a week. Creative nightly specials are posted on the website. Recent features were jumbo lump crab cakes garnished with roasted red peppers, a fresh-cut S.C. amber jack filet topped with sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese, and S.C. shrimp, bacon-wrapped scallops and mussels with shitake mushrooms and fresh spinach in a roasted red pepper cream sauce. ‘We try to buy as much local food as possible,” says owner Scott Goodall. Happy hour is from 4:30 to 7 p.m. nightly and provides drink specials. Pasta Fresca also offers catering; the menu can be downloaded from the website.
Goodall and his wife, Lauren, have owned it for 10 years. The couple, who had previous restaurant experience and experience in corporate America, bought the restaurant from the founders who were looking to sell. “We were in the right place at the right time.” Until May of 2012, the 15-year-old Pasta Fresca was located across from Richland Mall. Parking and not enough dining space prompted the move to the larger facility. Goodall says he and his wife love the new look, and work hard not only to offer flavorful food made from the freshest ingredients, but to provide a family-friendly, enjoyable atmosphere as well. “We feel like we now have a building to match our food,” says Goodall.
Although the food is the main draw, the interior design of the “new” Pasta Fresca location has an appeal all its own. The new location – closer to Trenholm Plaza along Forest Drive – is open, airy, and sports a chic, sophisticated design. Ashley Scott was the architect and Mack Home, at Trenholm Plaza, was responsible for choosing the interior design scheme, which includes creative and diverse lighting. There are large hanging lights over the open bar that resemble turtle shells, while other distinct blown glass lights hang over eating areas. Even the lighting in the entryway waiting area is unique – globes of twisting vines. Bright terra cotta accent walls coordinate with a gray tile floor and the texture of rough wood in various shades. One main wall is painted brick with long vertical windows accented with pale green trim. Pale green glass candleholders on tables coordinate. A hanging drop ceiling of the same rough wood planks that decorate the bar and hostess areas gives dimension to the large dining room. A dining room in the back of the restaurant offers a more intimate atmosphere, seats 12-16, and can be closed off with a curtain for private parties. Pasta Fresca seats a total of 144 – which includes the patio seating available when weather permits. The bar seats 17. Even the Pasta Fresca logo is a new design by Mustard Graphics
Goodall says their restaurant draws from not only the Forest Acres area, but Heathwood, Kathwood, and areas further out. Repeat customers are common throughout the week, he says. Live music on Tuesday nights – the Reggie Sullivan Band – draws crowds on Tuesday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m.