Where to Eat Right Now—Casa Barilla!

       While this Italian restaurant might not totally qualify as hidden, it is a gem. And it is a little tricky to find. Its address is 1290 Avenue of the Americas, or 1290 6th Avenue. But, its entrance is on 52nd street between 5th and 6th.

       Ok, so now that you’ve found Casa Barilla, your next pleasant surprise will be that this brightly lit, casual eatery, is a mecca of both traditional, and innovative, gourmet Italian food.  And the wine list, while not extensive, is completely on point. It actually makes choosing your wine to go with dinner, or lunch, a breeze.

       Onto the menu. You’ll be happy to see all the classics are here: Rigatoni alla Bolognese, Lasagna, Fettuccine Alfredo, Spaghetti alla Carbonara, and Linguine ai Frutti di Mare are all present.

       But my visit wasn’t to taste the classics, it was to try the new menu items featuring Beyond Meat ®. Beyond Meat ® is plant-based meat. Unlike a veggie burger, Beyond Meat ® looks and tastes like animal- based meat.

       Beyond Meat ® can be challenging to cook with, but Chef Edoardo Tarasconi, at only 22 years old, not only meets that challenge, but exceeds all expectations with the amazing dishes he created. I’m not entirely convinced I was proficiently boiling water at 22, but the Parma, Italy native who studied at the Scuola Alberghiera e di Ristorazione Serramazzoni or School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Serramazzoni, handles Beyond Meat ® magically.

       To put this in perspective I brought my sister-in-law Lynn to sample the new menu with me. Her quote after trying the three new dishes was, “This is a girl that eats her filet mignon mooing. This is so good I wish I had two stomachs!”

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       Her favorite was Spaghetti Beyond Meat®balls. She said the classic was perfect and the Beyond Meat®balls were amazing.

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       My personal favorites were the other two dishes, which I loved equally. The Rigatoni alfredo with Beyond Sausage® paired with the Chardonnay from Mezzacorona Dolomiti IGT was heavenly. The creamy flavors were rich and delicious without being too heavy—thankfully, because the Red Lentil Penne & Beyond Sausage® was totally worth having room for!

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      The Red Lentil Penne & Beyond Sausage® is vegan, and spicy and with the Merlot from Anterra IGT, it is an exciting dish, layered with fresh flavors owing to the red cabbage, and earthy flavors thanks to the way Chef Tarasconi prepared the Beyond Sausage®.

       Casa Barilla might not be the first place a vegetarian or vegan thinks to eat, but with all the options available it is an excellent choice. The choice is made even easier after meeting Casa Barilla’s general manager Giuseppe Marchetti who, at only 32 years old, makes diners feel welcomed like family. His extensive restaurant experience shines through as diners are reluctant to leave. And while leaving, these two diners are already thinking about what they’d like to try when they return.

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