Pasta Pomodoro, located in Washington Twp., NJ, is a delicious little Italian joint serving Italian style cooking and more. -Peter Planamente

After a long day of classes, my stomach rumbled and my Italian heart craved some comfort food. It was time to over-indulge in cuisine that I hoped I wouldn’t regret eating. I took a trip over to Pasta Pomodoro in Washington Township to see if their cooking holds up against the age-old secret recipes passed down within my Italian family.

The inside dining room of Pasta Pomodoro. -Peter Planamente

The Atmosphere

I arrived around 5 p.m. and the place was surprisingly slow, with few customers present. Amidst the relative quiet, Andrea Bocelli sang his lungs out over the restaurant’s speakers.

As time went on, the restaurant began to get more crowded. There are only twelve tables in the entire place. I cannot imagine what it looks like on a crowded Saturday night, jam packed with Italian food lovers bumping elbows.

The restaurant’s theme is hard to discern. The walls are an orange and yellow hue, and the wooden shelves are filled with small Italian knick-knacks. The side wall has a huge mural of a Sicilian town that has clearly been on the wall for a long time, as the paint is beginning to chip off in spots.

The inside dining room of Pasta Pomodoro. -Peter Planamente

The tables and chairs were extremely uncomfortable. I went with two other guests, one of whom sat beside me. A leg of the table was wedged between my crotch, and I was practically trapped there unless my guest got up and moved out for me.

To make things worse, the entire storefront is comprised of windows, so being there around sunset makes for a blinding experience. Fortunately, one of my accompanying guests was the one facing the windows, so the sun warmed the back of my neck while it blazed into his eyes. Admittedly, there are shades that partially alleviate this problem.

The bathroom poses another issue. It acts as a revolving door between employees and customers. The restaurant’s sole bathroom is unisex, and employees do not have their own. I had to wait quite some time just to wash my hands.

The sun shining in through the front windows of Pasta Pomodoro. -Peter Planamente

The Food / Menu

As is typical in other restaurants, Pasta Pomodoro places your drink order first. The limited selection included soda, water and Snapple. I ordered a peach Snapple, since it’s supposedly better for your waistline and teeth as opposed to soda (so they say, whoever they are), and restaurant tap water can be rather… boring.

A fresh cold Snapple from Pasta Pomodoro. -Peter Planamente

Along with the drinks, the waitress brought out a basket of bread. The slices were golden-brown and baked to perfection. It was fluffy, doughy and stuck softly to my gums. Most of the time, restaurants have stale, flaky bread that tastes like a moldy brick. I was actually satisfied with this warm basket of bread.

The menu is typical of your local Italian joint. It is only a few pages long and features a children’s menu (which, helpful hint, does not state the age limit). Yes, I have ordered off the children’s menu in the past. It’s a good option if you’re willing to be harmlessly deceitful and score a smaller portion at a cheaper price.

To my surprise, there was no mention on the menu of spaghetti and meatballs. We are in an Italian restaurant, correct? I guess they’re trying to subvert the expectations of the uncultured, stereotyping masses.

The appetizers run as cheap as $4 and upwards of $13 (seafood is, of course, higher priced). The main entrées of pasta, chicken and veal range from $15 to $20.

Deep fried Calamari from Pasta Pomodoro. -Peter Planamente

I ordered the deep-fried calamari ($9.49) appetizer as my main entrée. They looked like little golden onion rings stacked on top of each other, practically overflowing on the large white plate. It also came with lettuce, lemon wedges and a bowl of red marinara sauce. The marinara sauce tasted homemade and not like it was plopped out of a Prego jar from the local ShopRite. Several pieces were a bit tough to chew, but most of the time my fork and teeth had no problem getting through.

One of my guests ordered the chicken parmigiana ($17.49) without the cheese or sauce, which I guess transforms it into a chicken cutlet. I tried a piece of the cutlet and was able to cut it without using a knife. Inside the crispy brown breading was a juicy white meat. It was delicious, but a bit greasy.

The Service

My friend’s “chicken parmigiana,” AKA a chicken cutlet. -Peter Planamente

I have no complaints at all about the service. Our waitress put in hard work to provide an overall pleasant dining experience. As the place got a little more crowded, she scurried back and forth between her tables and the kitchen at a rapid, impressive pace.

I’ve never quite understood how servers are able to memorize an entire order without any notes, and our waitress did just that. If I were in the role, I’d be second-guessing everything and filling up my notepad with Biblical-length prose. Our waitress and her photographic memory got our order exactly right.

At one point, we chatted with her about shopping on Amazon, where she buys boxes of gum and wastes too much money. I’m always a fan of these little personal moments of connection, and I was pleased with the waitress’ personable demeanor.

Pasta Pomodoro gets extra points for cleanliness. The forks and knives looked spotless. I cannot tell you how many restaurants I’ve been to where the silverware was all grimed up. As a germaphobe, I examine every square inch of the dinner table with the eye of a forensic detective.

Lastly, the restaurant is B.Y.O.B., allowing adult customers to have a little extra fun while the kids look for the non-existent spaghetti and meatballs on the children’s menu.O

Overall, I enjoyed my time here at Pasta Pomodoro and I would recommend it to anyone who loves Italian cuisine. The food was delicious and tasted just like what my family would cook up at home. My only complaints were the need for a few more drink options and more comfortable chairs and tables.

Rating (1 = Terrible / 5 = Best) –

Oh, and here is a Snapple fact for you:

Here is a Snapple fact from my bottle at Pasta Pomodoro. -Peter Planamente

Pasta Pomodoro

404 Egg Harbor Road, Sewell, New Jersey 08080

856-256-7799

Hours: Monday to Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. / Sunday CLOSED

www.pastapomodoro-bygiovanni.com/

Serves: Northern & Southern Gourmet Italian dishes

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