Lately, it seems the trend is to customize anything and everything. From MTV’s show “Pimp My Ride” about customizing cars to Build-a-Bear stores customizing stuffed animals, it is all about personalization. Food is no exception.
At the Spinella Pasta Bar in Azusa, you can build your own pasta dish or panini. Fill out a simple form, indicating your desired type of pasta and sauce (choose from nine different pastas and just as many sauces), select your toppings and they will cook it to order right then and there.
The counterperson recommended the spaghetti aglio e olio (olive oil and fresh garlic sauce) and cavatelli with Siliciana sauce (tomato cream sauce with mushrooms and smoked bacon). Since I am forever mixing my tomato sauces with Alfredo and cannot pass up anything that says “bacon," I opted for the cavatelli ($6).
Served on a styrofoam plate, the pasta itself was perfectly al dente, yet still tender. The sauce was smooth yet zesty, just as I would expect a good tomato cream sauce to be. However, I could only find one mushroom slice in my sauce and nary a piece of meat was to be found.
My daughter ordered the penne Alfredo with marinated artichokes as her topping ($7). The pasta was again cooked precisely right. The creamy sauce was flavorful and I was pleased to see there were more artichoke pieces in her dish.
My son chose the Grilled Cheese Dippers ($6). A simple loaf of crusty French bread filled with slices of mozzarella cheese was grilled until the cheese transformed into luscious gooeyness. It was sliced into finger-sized pieces and served alongside a tangy marinara sauce. These were the group favorite—my daughter even wanted to drink the sauce (I said no).
For dessert, we had the cannoli ($3), which is a small fried pastry tube filled with sweetened ricotta cream. The pastry shell was crisp and fresh and the house-made filling was dotted with chocolate chip bits. We thoroughly enjoyed every bite of its rich, creamy, crunchy, sugary goodness.
The portion sizes are not exactly generous, which is understandable, considering the affordable prices. However, I felt they would have been a better value if they increased the helpings a bit and ensured that the sauces had more of the stated ingredients. Also, if you are like me and enjoy a lot of goodies in your pasta, beware—because all those add-ons can quickly add up.
The pasta bar features a casual counter service atmosphere and shares space with The Cookie Mill, a cookie and ice cream eatery. It might not be the most romantic Italian meal you ever had, but it should be delicious, easy and just the way you like it.
Spinella Pasta Bar
Address: 1165 E. Alosta Ave., Azusa CA 91702
Business Hours: Monday – Thursday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Friday 11a.m. – 9 p.m.; Saturday 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Phone Number: (626) 852-5756
Price Range: $5 - $15
Type of Cuisine: Italian
Standout Dish: Grilled Cheese Dippers