Pasta Plus

Italian, Pizza
$$$$ ($14 and under)
This local Italian favorite has all the ingredients for success.
Tues-Thu 11:30 am-2 pm
5-9 pm; Fri 11:30 am-2 pm
5-10 pm; Sat 5-10 pm; Sun 4-9 pm; The market is open Monday-Friday from 11:30 am until the restaurant closes
(Laurel)
301-498-7878
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Editorial Review

Good to Go takeout: Pasta Plus Market & Gourmet Carryout

Buoyed by the success of their Pasta Plus restaurant in Laurel, brothers Massimo and Sabatino Mazziotti took the next practical step in the mid-1990s: They opened Pasta Plus Market & Gourmet Carryout next door in the Gorman Plaza strip mall. The appeal only widened.

Longtime customers know that this festive jewel, which sports the look and feel of an indoor piazza, is no carbon copy of the 90-seat eatery. A lighted display case calls attention to items that you can take out or eat in at one of 10 small tables. The market also carries 35 wines, many of them from Abruzzo, the rugged region in Italy where the brothers were born and bred.

Start smart, with the succulent rotisserie chicken prepared "the Abruzzo way," Massimo says. The birds are stuffed with rosemary and garlic, and cooked to perfection. Order a quarter-chicken (dark meat, $4.99; white, $5.99) with two sides or a whole chicken ($16.95), which comes with three sides, plus garlic bread and a small loaf of Italian bread, both of which are baked in-house.

Sides include a rice dish with peas, carrots and tomato sauce; a house salad; pasta; sauteed vegetables and some top-notch potatoes. You might want to bulk up on the latter; the chunks are first deep-fried and then sauteed with olive oil, onions and rosemary (small, $1.95; large, $3.95). Among the sandwich offerings, the mortadella panino with provolone cheese and grilled vegetables ($6.95) is popular.

On a Sunday night, in the run-up to closing, Massimo -- nearly everyone knows him as Max -- likes to grab a seat. With knife and fork in hand, he samples the pizza bianca fresh from the wood-fired oven (small, $7.95; large, $9.50; extra-large, $12.50). "I love when the cook makes it bubbly," he says, pointing to the auburn edges of the savory thin-crust pie. "To me, when it does that, it's a good, quality pizza."

--Tony Glaros (June, 2010)