“Fettucini alfredo is macaroni and cheese for adults.”
– Mitch Hedberg
Pasta is simple. Pasta is beautiful. Pasta is easy to make, hard to mess up, and is universally considered to be food (which is essential for life and by the transitive property of bullshit, makes pasta essential for life).
Pasta is brilliant. Some god damn pioneer decided they weren’t getting enough carbs so they combined strips of bread with milk and its effuse, perhaps a tomato or 6 , a pinch of salt, dash of basil and viola, 8 centuries* of hand-crafted, stomach-digested, SquattyPotty-assisted history (hungry yet?) Necessity is the mother of invention and pasta is the hot sister of sliced bread.
Italian food (which is really just pasta, when it comes down to it) has been my arbitrary favorite food since my brother moved to college and I had to start taste-making for myself. Whenever I would go out to a fancy restaurant, my first instinct would be to check out how the linguine selection (it’s always the same and I hope that never changes) followed by a heart-pounding deliberation on the pros and cons of seafood pasta.** This decision usually would lead to a glossing over of the obvious (spaghetti and meat balls) straight into something new and tasty like a wonderfully biting Tortellini Rosa from Ciao Bella or a batch of fresh-to-death Orecchiette from the Loring Pasta Bar.
It’s also an easy choice whether you’re the one footing the bill or not. Pasta is like salad: you get to silence all pepper-cracking with a disinterested “When” AND your wallet leaves the building with relatively little water damage. I’m talking wallet tears here, people.
This all being said, I consider myself a “food adventurer” (alternatively dubbed “garbage disposal” by a few affectionately blunt friends). Choosing Hungary meant a lot of meat and potatoes but probably not the steady stream of starchy heaven I’m used to.
Luckily, Budapest comes through:
Yeah. Hungary has a takeout pasta place called PASTA. (pronounced Pashta because an “s” by itself is pronounced “sh” in Hungary. Fuck me, right?). This place is, to put it delicately, bangin’. Contained in nearly as small of real estate as their iconic Chinese takeout boxes, PASTA. is as minimal and straightforward as you can get. For fucks sake, their name is what they sell. Ron Swanson would be proud.
All they serve is pasta, subdivided into four distinct menu options that are changed daily. Every option is 990 forint or roughly $3. Every option is a delicacy (tonight I had a beef chili with cream fraiche because I refuse to turn down the opportunity to say cream fraiche.)
Cream fraiche. Anywho, despite its modest visage, the eatery comes loaded with charming subtleties. For a team of less than 10, their social media is vibrantly life-style oriented. Even in Hungarian, you can still get the picture from their… pictures. Yeah. Straightforward yet versatile, the main thing you can always expect out of their funny Chinese takeout boxes is quality. If anything were to speak to the character of a hole-in-the-wall take-out joint, it’s that their food is edible and, moreover, tasty.
Here’s what I whipped up for them- something simple but still makes you think:
PASTA. is located at Budapest, Kálvin tér 2, 1053. Open till 8pm daily (even Sunday, a rarity for many stores and restaurants in Budapest). Check them out on Facebook. I have received no compensation from PASTA. or anyone associated with it, I’m merely a fan, weirdo, and advertising student.
*I mean, if you believe all that Marco Polo googely moogley
**As a large-nose’d individual, I refuse to eat anything that doesn’t smell good. I stand by that logic for no reason and it hasn’t failed me yet.