Discreet Diner | Pasta Pomodoro

Posted: July 22, 2007

"Recently my husband and I had dinner at this excellent restaurant located in Eagle Plaza. . . . Their moderately priced menu offers a myriad of delicious Italian dishes for both lunch and dinner as well as several types of scrumptious pizza choices," wrote Marie Hall of Marlton.

Sounds good, I thought. The Discreet Diner called a friend and invited her to lunch at Pasta Pomodoro.

It was a hot, hot sunny day, so we skipped the outside tables for the air-conditioned dining room.

The menu has much to offer, and it avoids deep-fried foods. A hint of what's to come can be taken from the mural of a hand passing a tomato to another. Pomodoro is Italian for tomato. "The mural represents the rebirth of true Italian-style cooking. We have no added onion and sugar. All my tomatoes come from San Marzano, Italy. And they're all hand-crushed. We make all our sauces here," said owner/chef Pasquale Masters.

There's a Heart Healthy Menu that breaks down the calories and grams of carbs, cholesterol, sodium, protein, fat and calories/fat of some foods. These dishes were developed and analyzed in connection with West Jersey Health System-Voorhees, according to the menu. And there is a gluten-free menu. Masters said he recently won top honors at the 2007 National Foundation for Celiac Awareness Gluten-Free Cooking Spree in Philadelphia.

Our entrees came with house salads, iceberg lettuce, red cabbage, cucumber and tomato with a tomato vinaigrette.

Everything here is made to order. I selected the penne rustico ($6.99), and I added chicken ($3). It was a plate of al dente penne and chunks of chicken mixed with mascarpone, ricotta and Parmesan cheeses, pignoli and cream, and topped with mozzarella. The taste was rich and cheesy without being salty and overwhelming.

My friend, who recently had attended a shower at the restaurant and had enjoyed the chicken Parmesan, ordered the shrimp and scallops marinara ($9.99). It was a large plate of linguine with a thin marinara and loaded with sea scallops and large shrimp. She added grated Parmesan. The sauce was full of basil and oregano that enhanced the tomato flavor and complemented the seafood.

The lunch portions were ample, and we both had sizable leftovers.

Nothing tops off a good pasta meal better than dessert with coffee. The dessert tray was heavy on chocolate, but I selected the tiramisu ($5.99) and my companion chose key lime cheesecake ($5.99). The cheesecake was sweet and creamy, but too tart for my taste. The key lime lover adored it. The tiramisu was just as it should be: sweet and smooth, almost pudding like, with the bite of espresso and cocoa.

Pasta Pomodoro has something for everyone, including banquets and catering. In addition, diners get 20 percent off with a ticket stub from the Ritz movie theater, which also is in Eagle Plaza. The restaurant has been in the plaza for 16 years. It changed hands two years ago. Now, in addition to Masters, John Vina and Skip Elmer own it.

As reader Marie Hall said, "I thought you might want to visit Pasta Pomodoro as a great choice."

Discreet Diner | Pasta Pomodoro

700 Route 561, Eagle Plaza, Voorhees

Phone: 856-782-7430

Hours: Lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday to Saturday; dinner 3-10 p.m. Monday to Thursday and to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Dinner served all day Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Reservations: No

Handicapped accessible: Yes

Parking: Lot

Children's menu: Yes

Cocktails: BYOB

On the Web: www.pastapomodoronj.com

The Discreet Diner is a member

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

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