Discreet Diner | Pasta Vino

Posted: July 08, 2007

The Discreet Diner stopped by a Burlington County branch of the Aldo Lamberti family of restaurants for a meal last week.

It was actually the DD's third visit this year to the eatery on Kings Highway in Maple Shade.

The first meal at Pasta Vino, in January, was absolutely wonderful. It was a busy Saturday evening, but the service was attentive and the chicken Sorrento ($12.75) was delicious - tender medallions of chicken sauteed with scallions and sun-dried tomatoes in a demiglace and topped with eggplant, prosciutto and mozzarella.

Pasta Vino has banquet rooms that can seat up to 110. My second stop there, in May, was for a dinner meeting. We each ordered our own meals, and I selected penne pasta with the Lombardia sauce ($11.50), a vodka cream sauce with tomato and basil. The sauce was exquisite without being too rich, and the easy-to-eat meal was just right for a meeting. There was a lot of business to discuss, so there was time for dessert. I went for the cannoli cake ($5.25), a rich, creamy dish with a ricotta-filled pastry on top.

Last week, I decided to review the place. After we were seated, our server took drink orders. When he arrived with them, we ordered an appetizer, fritti calamari for one ($6.50), and our entrees. I asked for the calamari to be fried well-done and it was. The sauce was an unremarkable red; I would have preferred a little kick to it.

We sat for a while with the calamari, waiting for our salads. Finally, the waiter asked if we were ready for them and our answer was definitive.

The salads were plates of greens with shredded carrots and red cabbage topped with the house creamy Italian. The dressing was quite tasty; not too sweet as some can be.

We sat for a while with the salads, waiting for our entrees. Finally, I pushed my salad plate across the table as a hint for the waiter. He came over to ask if we were ready for our main courses, and our answer was affirmative.

We each had decided to try something different, this being a review. My friend ordered lasagna verde ($10.50), a very good vegetable lasagna. It was layers of al dente pasta with zucchini and other vegetables, ricotta and mozzarella and marinara sauce. It was beautifully presented with a carrot crown on top.

I chose the seafood manicotti ($12.50), which the menu says is "pasta sheets stuffed with lobster, crab and shrimp. Topped with brandy blush cream sauce." What the menu doesn't say is that the seafood is blended, as in a food processor. I was disappointed. The dish was very pretty and the cream sauce was delightful, though, which helped to redeem it. I ended up taking it home, and my daughter enjoyed it later.

We sat for a while with the entrees, waiting for dessert. Eventually, the waiter came to ask if we wanted anything else, and the answer was enthusiastic.

Having already enjoyed the cannoli cake, I decided to try the Oreo cookie mousse cake. It was quite good - better than an Oreo cookie. The cake was firm, not dry, and held the white chocolate mousse nicely. It was very sweet, and went well with coffee.

Pasta Vino has a lovely dining room; tabletops are bare for lunch and dressed in white cloths for dinner. The setting is modern and the waitstaff is pleasant. Service was slow on one of my three visits. Would I return? The answer is yes.

Discreet Diner | Pasta Vino

124 N. Kings Highway, Maple Shade

Phone: 856-727-1001

Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Reservations: Yes

Handicapped accessible: Yes

Parking: Lot

Children's menu: Yes

Cocktails: Yes

On the Web: www.pastavinorestaurant.com

The Discreet Diner is a member

of the Inquirer staff and welcomes your comments. E-mail discreetdiner@phillynews.com.

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