Strati Wild Italian unites the Pasta Partners

Me and my friend Beth in 2006. HOLY CRAP, THAT WAS NINE YEARS AGO.
Me and my friend Beth in 2006. HOLY CRAP, THAT WAS NINE YEARS AGO.

When I was a student at Western Kentucky University, my friend Beth and I dubbed ourselves Pasta Partners. The name came from our affinity for the pasta station in the dining hall in Garrett Conference Center. The student newspaper office was located in this building, which meant I spent more time here than any location during my undergraduate education.

The dining room was in the basement of Garrett. The pasta station was located right between the door and the cash register at the end of a half-circle of meal stations. The Pasta Ladies were suited up in stained white chef’s jackets and hats to match. Their demeanor was more lunchroom lady than Top Chef.

The Pasta Ladies had their system down. They squirted oil into a skillet and plopped in a small spoonful of garlic to begin each order. They scooped the meat and veggies we wanted for our pasta from black plastic containers nestled in ice. Penne noodles went in next, followed by a ladle of marinara, alfredo sauce, or a combination of both for the adventurous among us. Once the Ladies tossed everything together over their individual burners, they slid the pasta onto black plastic plates and sprinkled a handful of cheese on top of it all. A hearty helping of carbs got Beth and I through many long afternoons and evenings in the newspaper office.

Several years later, Beth and I have rekindled our partnership at Strati Wild Italian, a fast-casual Italian restaurant at 1702 Bardstown Road (where Sitar Indian Restaurant used to be). The setup calls upon our collegiate carbo-loading days but expands on the little pasta station we loved. The concept is similar – customers at Strati can build their own small or large pasta dish from the viewable selection of pasta shapes (cavatappi FTW), meat, veggies and sauces. Small pans are stacked on a big hot plate near the beginning of the line. The cooking of the pasta and vegetable prep happens in the back kitchen, which leaves a Subway-like assembly line behind a sneeze guard at the front of the house. I didn’t mind waiting a couple of extra minutes for fresh pasta to cook in the back kitchen – it appeared that the selections out front were purposefully small to ensure constant freshness. Employees are friendly and patient when they walk newbies through the pasta-creation process. And if you freeze with so many options before you, there is a selection of  pasta dishes that the restaurant has put together on the menu.

A selection of fresh veggies and at Strati Wild Italian.
A selection of fresh veggies and at Strati Wild Italian.

Strati also has wraps and salads if you’re so inclined. However, it would be a shame to bypass the build-your-own pasta option. I made a creation with a spicy marinara, chicken and plenty of vegetables that was a little bit heavenly, mainly because I got to choose exactly what I wanted. Add a tiny bottle of wine ($3.99), and a small pasta order ($7.29) made for a satisfying weekend dinner.

A small pasta bowl at Strati Wild Italian. And yes, it pairs well with a little bottle of wine.
A small pasta bowl at Strati Wild Italian. And yes, it pairs well with a little bottle of wine.

I was inherently biased to like Strati – the same folks responsible for Wild Eggs opened this restaurant, and I, indeed, love me some Wild Eggs. Fortunately, the company’s commitment to fresh, friendly service has spread to this latest offering, and the restaurant gives Beth and me a reason to get the band back together.


Strati Wild Italian

1702 Bardstown Rd., Louisville

More information: Strati Wild Italian’s Facebook page

Help me pick the next $10 Challenge restaurant

Could this Mussel and Burger Bar dish be the next $10 Challenge?
Could this Mussel and Burger Bar dish be the next $10 Challenge?

I’m in a pickle. I don’t know what restaurant to visit for the next $10 Challenge. Granted, this is a wonderful problem to have — there are so many good, interesting and/or new restaurants around Louisville that it’s hard to pick which one to focus on.

So I’ll let you guys make the tough choice for me.

Ashlee Eats readers will pick the next $10 Challenge restaurant. I have some suggestions, and I want you to vote on the one you want to read about. Vote in the poll below through 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16. I’ll tally the votes and post the $10 Challenge about the winning restaurant Monday, Oct. 21.

Here are the contenders for the first crowd-sourced $10 Challenge:

  1. Mussel and Burger Bar: This is one of my favorite newer restaurants in the area, but it is indeed a challenge to only spend 10 bucks for hand-crafted deliciousness on a bun (or in a bowl if you get the mussels).
  2. Proof on Main: I’m not gonna lie — some of the menu descriptions are a little scary (charred octupus?). But this restaurant inside the 21c Museum Hotel has gotten a lot of attention nationwide for its cuisine. Could I find something delicious and inexpensive?
  3. Simply Thai: I love Thai food, but I’ve yet to make it out to this often-recommended eatery in the East End.
  4. KFC Eleven: OK, it’s a “concept” dining experience from a corporate fast-food behemoth, so this pushes the boundaries of keeping the $10 Challenge local. But I’m curious to see fried chicken turned fast casual at Baxter Avenue and Bardstown Road.
  5. Bonnie & Clyde’s Pizza Parlor: I’ve gotta throw in a South-end option. A co-worker was disappointed I hadn’t tried what she called some of the best pizza in town. Should I be the judge of that?

Ready? Let’s do this!

 

Bits and Pieces: KFC Eleven, food truck follow-up and other Louisville food news from the web, 7.27.13

Sanders remains the official face of Kentucky ...
Sanders remains the official face of Kentucky Fried Chicken, and appears on its logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

News

  • KFC gave media folks a sneak peak of the fried chicken chain’s foray into fast-casual dining called KFC Eleven located at the corner of Bardstown Road and Baxter Avenue. From what I can tell from the Eater Louisville slideshow of the restaurant (slated to open to the public in August), the art is funky, the bathrooms are clean and the Colonel is sparse. (Eater Louisville)
  • LEO Weekly took a look at the health inspection scores of Louisville food trucks as a follow-up to the WAVE 3 Troubleshooter story that questioned the safety of these mobile eateries (check out my reaction here). Turns out, food trucks are just as clean and safe as brick-and-mortar restaurants. Food truck friends, go ahead and drop the mic in triumph. (LEO Weekly)
  • Employees at a Creole restaurant called Le Bossier Café at Muhammad Ali Boulevard and 18th Street will be part of a union, a rarity in the restaurant world. (LEO Weekly)

Openings

  • One of the founders of the bar Meat will open an upscale bar called Meta this fall in downtown Louisville. The bar will be located in the former Show-n-Tell Lounge adult nightclub on Chestnut Street between Fourth and Fifth streets. I just hope they keep some of that old signage. (Business First of Louisville)
  • The folks behind the restaurant Rye in NuLu will open a bistro later this year called Atlantic No. 5 at 605 W. Main Street. One of the owners said to expect “sandwiches, salads, rotisserie chicken, smoked fish, pork, lamb, house-made charcuterie and bagels at breakfast.” I could be down for that. (Insider Louisville)
  • Bristol Bar and Grille plans to open a café in the Mellwood Art Center by Sept. 1. (Courier-Journal)

Bits and Pieces: Horse meat, Zagat listings and other Louisville food news from the web, 3.11.13

Closings

  • The original Highlands Tap Room (next door to Kashmir Restaurant on Bardstown Road) will close after 11 years. The bar’s second location down the street at 1058 Bardstown Road will remain open. (Insider Louisville)

News

Openings

  • A new restaurant called Sidebar Ice House and Grill is set to open in April on Whiskey Row, according to one of the developers of the downtown strip next to the Yum Center. This would bring the number of eateries in the 100 block of West Main Street to five. (Business First of Louisville)

Etc.

Bits and Pieces: Dragon King’s Daughter, Game and other Louisville food news from the web, 2.4.13

Closings

  • John E’s Restaurant and Lounge closed abruptly last week. (WHAS 11)

News

  • “Louisville residents currently spend $100 million annually on local foods and are interested in purchasing an additional $158 million each year, for a total demand of $258 million.” Noted. (Business First of Louisville)

Openings

Bits and Pieces: Tom+Chee, distilleries and other Louisville food news, 9.10.12

(Blogger’s note: For more information about any of the items in this and subsequent round-ups, click on the source links at the end of the sentences.)

Openings

  • Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen will open a new location in Prospect. There are currently nine Pie Kitchen locations in Louisville and surrounding counties. (Pie Kitchen’s Facebook page)
  • Tom+Chee, a fancy-pants grilled cheese restaurant, is opening a location in Cardinal Towne on Cardinal Boulevard. The chain has a Bardstown Road location. (Tom+Chee’s Facebook page)
  • Queen of Sheba Ethiopian restaurant has opened a second, lunch-only location in downtown Louisville on S. Fifth Street. The restaurant’s main location is on Taylorsville Road. (Queen of Sheba’s website)

Events

  • Red Hot Roasters and Wiltshire on Market are hosting a coffee-themed dinner to benefit the Center for Women and Families on Sept. 19. (Consuming Louisville)
  • Yale architect students who visited Louisville and created designs for a downtown distillery have completed their work, and the designs will be on display through Sept. 24 at the corner of First and Main streets across from Whiskey Row downtown. (WFPL)

Know of other food news in Louisville and the surrounding area? Leave a comment or send me an email at ashleelclark@gmail.com.

Verdict on new BoomBozz pizza: Delicious

Chicken sausage peppadew pizza from Boombozz.

Boombozz, a Louisville-based pizza restaurant, debuted its new pizza in the best way. The restaurant gave it away.

On Labor Day, the first 50 customers at the restaurant’s Westport Village, Bardstown Road and Frankfort Avenue locations received a free medium Chicken Sausage Peppadew pizza.

I live across the street from one of these locations. So guess who was the 10th person to get a free pizza Monday?

This is what comes on the pizza:

  • Chicken sausage blended with fresh garlic and roasted peppers
  • Peppadew, a South African pepper
  • Red onions
  • Mozzarella
  • Goat cheese

The peppadew is very sweet and mild compared to its hotter cousins. This red pepper balanced well with the bite of the red onion. The slices of chicken sausage were plentiful, but I think the peppadew might be paired better with a sweeter meat, like ground lamb.

I plan on eating this pizza again. And again. And again. And with large, artisan pizzas that cost less than $20, it’s an affordable dinner/cold breakfast option.

 

The Sweet Fix: Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen

(Blogger’s note: The Sweet Fix is an occasional feature that will run throughout the summer featuring ice cream and dessert places in the Louisville. Have a suggestion? Let me know.)

Gadzooks, that's a lot of chocolate.

There’s always a line when I visit the Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen on Bardstown Road in the Lower Highlands.

The shop, one of nine locations throughout the area, is near the intersection of Baxter Avenue and Bardstown Road, a corridor filled with bars, restaurants and plenty of people who want some dessert after an evening out.

Though Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen is open year-round, this location is bustling during the summer as customers skip the cakes, pies and cookies and head toward the only dessert that can provide some relief from this monstrous humidity — ice cream.

Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen employees begin churning the ice cream each day at 7 a.m. They spend the rest of the day with their arm halfway down the dozens of buckets, scraping up scoops of delectable dairy to pack into cones and cups.

My favorite thing about this dessert shop is its 25-cent ice cream scoop day about which I have previously blogged. For one day in the summer, Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen sells scoops of ice cream for a quarter each. As you can imagine, the lines are long and the employees are tired. But is it worth it? INDEED.

Rob, Roscoe and I made our way to Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen near the end of the 25-cent scoop day. Since Rob had to wait outside with Roscoe (sorry, no pups allowed inside), he requested that I surprise him with a scoop of something with chocolate in it. I fulfilled this request fourfold when I brought Rob a scoop of Peace, Love and Chocolate, a flavor that is made up of four different kids of chocolate.

Scroll back to the top of the page to take a look at Rob’s reaction to all the chocolate-y goodness of his scoop. I took a lick (or two) myself. I didn’t know you could pack so much chocolate into ice cream. It tasted like the dairy equivalent of eating a handful of Hershey’s Kisses drizzled with chocolate sauce with chocolate shavings sprinkled on top. Yum.

Though the 25-cent day is over, it’s still worth swinging by Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen for something sweet. That Peace, Love and Chocolate was definitely delicious enough for me to shell out the full price.

Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen

1041 Bardstown Road, and eight other locations throughout Kentuckiana

 

Here are some Louisville food trucks worth following

The food truck scene in Louisville has exploded recently.

Yes, we’re a bit behind bigger cities like LA and New York, but better late than never, amirite?

These food trucks seem to understand what it takes to really promote a mobile food movement in the city. The businesses maintain active social networking pages to keep customers informed of their whereabouts, and all welcome inquiries regarding catering for events.

The trucks also work together. I just saw on Facebook that there will be a “Food Truckus Ruckus” on June 18 at Fresh Start Growers Supply at Baxter and Jefferson streets.

Here’s a list of some Louisville food trucks and their websites. Bookmark these links to better follow each food truck’s location around the greater Louisville area. Know of one missing from the list? As usual, take it to the comments.

  • Busta Grill: This is a sausage cart rather than a truck, but it’s mobile, and that’s what counts. The cart is stationed at First and Washington streets. Visit Busta Grill’s Facebook page to learn about “Joe Pesci Fridays.”
  • Holy Molé: This lime-green truck dishes out gourmet, street-style tacos on handmade tortillas. Keep track of them on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Lil Cheezers: *Spoiler alert* This “gourmet grilled cheesemobile” will be the subject of Friday’s $10 Challenge. In the meantime, here is their Facebook and Twitter page.
  • MozzaPi: This eatery, which serves up traditional wood-fired pizza, has a mobile oven and a storefront that will open soon at 1015 Bardstown Road. Keep up with the progress on Facebook and Twitter.
  • San Diego Sandwich Works: This California mobile sandwich café, located in a turquoise bus, promises to “bring a taste of sunshine to your day.” That’s a delightful promise worth testing. Follow SDS Works on Facebook and Twitter.

The $10 Challenge: Mark’s Feed Store

I lived in Louisville for 17 years, but there was a lot of stuff I missed.

I didn’t discover all the shops along Bardstown Road until freshman year of college. I didn’t go to the Kentucky Derby until I was assigned to cover the event for the Lexington Herald-Leader two years ago. And I drove on Frankfort Avenue for the first time in February.

But the latest $10 Challenge made me hang my head in shame.

How could I spend the most formidable years of my life in Louisville, yet miss out on the greatness that is Mark’s Feed Store?

Sure, I had heard of Mark’s Feed Store. But for the longest time, I thought the business was a livestock supply company. So color me surprised when a friend told me about the great and inexpensive barbecue on which she feasted at Mark’s Feed Store. Those context clues were enough to inform me that:

  1. Mark’s Feed Store feeds people, not animals.
  2. The restaurant was ripe for a $10 Challenge.

Continue reading “The $10 Challenge: Mark’s Feed Store”