Sherman's Food Adventures: Anton's Pasta Bar

Anton's Pasta Bar

Ever since my last visit to Anton's in 2009, I vowed never to return.  Why the hate?  Well, let's just say the pasta was greasy, overdone, oversauced and underwhelming.  Sure, there was lots of it, but that just meant there was too much mediocrity on a big plate.  Forever etched into my mind was some creamy pasta that had pools of oil sitting in the crevices of the linguine.  However, some loyal fans encouraged me to return with reasonable expectations.  So I did late one Friday night with Milhouse and Lionel Hutz.  Since it was well past 9:00pm, we only waited for about 10 minutes.

Unlike myself, Lionel Hutz loves the cream sauce, in particular the Penne Bombay (as he has eaten many a time).  As the name implies, the penne was bathed in a light curry cilantro cream sauce with shrimp and prawns.  I found the pasta to be al dente (albeit a touch dense) and properly seasoned.  As for the sauce, it was rich with a touch of curry spice and a very minor hint of cilantro.  The prawns were not overdone exhibiting a meaty snap.  It was not bad, but I couldn't imagine finishing a plate of this (and I'm not talking about portion size either).  Milhouse went for the Fettuccine Creola with Italian sausage, chicken and shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce.  As much as I liked the spice and tang of the sauce, there was too much of it as it drowned the pasta.  Hence, the fresh pasta was on the softer side, but not mushy.  I liked how there was enough ingredients to match the amount of pasta.

For myself, I had the Conchiglie Zio Carmelo with sausage, chicken, pinenuts & spinach in a white wine sauce & chili flakes.  This was a winner as there was a wealth of different flavours in each bite.  I got a tonne of garlic and onions that gave way to the spiciness of the chili flakes.  The sausage added salt and spice while the pine nuts contributed both texture and aromatics.  The only thing I didn't like was the chicken as it was pretty dry.  As for the pasta, it was nicely firm and chewy.  Also loved how there wasn't an overload of sauce.

Seeing how the food was actually better than my expectations, I was able to convince one of the biggest skeptics to join me for another meal - Viv.  We got the Linguine con Polpette for the kiddies and once again, it was drowning in sauce.  It was tangy though with a considerable amount of pepperiness.  We found the meatballs to be firm and meaty with mild spices.  Again, the amount of sauce helped contribute to the less-than-al dente pasta (to be fair, it is fresh pasta).  Viv and I decided on the Penne All’ Emiliana. This was rather cheesy with plenty of saltiness from the black olives, Italian sausage and pancetta.  This needed something more than the tomatoes to balance out the saltiness.  Again, there was enough ingredients to match the amount of pasta.  After these 2 revisits, my thoughts on Anton's haven't necessarily changed - as in quantity over quality.  However, I must admit it is not as bad as I thought.  If you come with reasonable expectations and order the right pasta (for your tastes), you can leave satisfied and with enough for lunch and dinner the next day.

The Good:
- Large portions
- Lots of choice
- Enough ingredients to match the amount of pasta

The Bad:
- Especially with the tomato sauce-based pastas, there is too much of it
- I loved the garlic and onion, but sometimes, it is not balanced off by other flavours
- Classic quantity over quality (but still decent if you have the right expecatations)     

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