After spending the previous week in Italy dining quite well, I still had the hankering for Italian food and pasta, as usually do in any case. The Cavatelli Al Sugo Bolognese all’Entra, Parmigiano Reggiano seemed to fit the bill on a crisp day. It featured a short, sturdy pasta served with a slowly cooked meat sauce that is a specialty of Bologna and its surroundings and seen throughout central and a fair part of northern Italy. Their sauce, the ragù, is made with ground beef and pork, no veal. The Entra designation, and likely the recipe, comes from the restaurant north of Bologna where the chef once worked, I was told.
I quite enjoyed the dish. Their cavatelli is made in-house with all-purpose flour that provided a nice bite, flavor and cavities to catch the meaty sauce. The other pastas on the menu use the softer, more finely milled ’00’ that’s appropriate for those. The ragù tasted like it should, hearty but not overly so, if with just a touch of chalkiness likely from the beef. I could have used some bread to sop the remaining little bit of it – “fare la scarpetta” as the Italians say – but none was offered, unfortunately. Their ragù was maybe slightly less flavorful as the couple ragùs I had eaten the week before in Italy, and what I make at home, using a slight adaption of the Marcella Hazan’s terrific, very long-cooked version.
Though like what I ate, the portion for the cavatelli was quite small. It was certainly smaller than what is usually served these days as a primo in Italy, the first course, usually pasta or risotto, traditionally meant as a preface the secondo, the protein-centric course. The portion sizes have grown larger at Italian in the past decade or longer, but it’s been since about the start of the millennium – a span of time that includes nearly a dozen trips to Italy – that I can remember a pasta portion as thriftfully sized as this was. This might work without much concern for the ladies-who-lunch, or children, but I doubt it will satisfy most diners even at lunch. Even less so at dinner, as the waitress told me the portions are the same for dinner. You’ll need another course in the evening to be sure.
Another thing caused me a pause in addition to the parsimonious portion was that the price was an outstanding $22. Not only smaller than what is served in Italy for a similar dish, and nearly everywhere else, it was much more expensive. On this recent gastronomic trip to Italy, a well-known national food writer and I talked about how pasta prices in Italy have nicely remained around €11 or €12, or so, about $12.25 to $13.50, at most restaurants for the past decade or longer. Though I enjoyed the cavatelli preparation, I felt that it was one of the worst dining values I’ve had in a while.
Another caveat in addition to those two for the cavatelli, were the wine prices. Perusing the wine list, I found just eight of the two or three dozen Italian reds were under $100, which I found annoying to state the least. With two Master Sommeliers with the hospitality group, I expected more. There are certainly many excellent choices on the list, but the accompanying prices, which may be fair, are on the high side for most diners. Based on one visit, I believe that Rosie Cannonball is a welcome addition to the local dining scene, one that I plan to revisit. It’s just one that might be a little pricey for what it is.
1620 Westheimer (between Mandell and Dunlavy), 77006, (832) 380-2471
Cavatelli al Sugo at Rosie Cannonbal