Do you remember eating from the pasta bar in the dorm cafeteria during your college years? Remember how you’d scoop out either plain spaghetti or penne noodles and then choose between a tomato or an alfredo sauce? So that’s what the pasta dishes at Sola Pasta Bar in Soho remind me of, which is pretty disappointing considering that a former Michelin-star chef from Italy is behind the operations.
Maybe too much time was spent on the aesthetics and the branding of Sola. It all looks very nice, bringing to mind a stylish and contemporary restaurant in Milan, and being able to see all the activity in the center-stage open kitchen and bar makes for a lively atmosphere. All the flashy new black and gold table settings have Sola clearly printed on them, leaving no doubt as to its ambitions to expand into a dominant pasta franchise. But how can that happen when the pasta is so bland?
My fusilloni pasta was in a tomato sauce so basic that it reminded me of the kind served in the dorms. I probably could have done better with a can of Ragu and storebought noodles. As described on the menu, the tagliatelle alla gricia seemed like it would be some sort of a tasty take on cacio e pepe, but it was so dry and sad, I thought I was eating plain noodles. Not to beat a dead horse, but I wasn’t too happy with how small our lobster salad appetizer was either.
Maybe the plans for global pasta franchise is a little premature. In a city with plenty of affordable and tasty Italian options, Sola’s current offerings just can’t compete. It’s got the looks but there’s not that much substance behind them.
Sola Pasta Bar
330 W. Broadway (between Grand and Canal St)
New York, NY 10013