Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Closed Monday. Prices: Dinner for two, with appetizer, drinks and desserts, is about $35 to $40, including tax and tip. Cards: MasterCard, Visa.
Pasquale is the homespun kind of restaurant where you can hear the chef whisking his vinaigrette only seconds before you get your salad.
This good, simple Italian cooking really is prepared to order: When we ordered appetizers during a recent visit, the waiter had to fetch Pasquale, who was chatting at a nearby table with some friends.
"Oh, excuse me," he said, nodding to us with a smile before disappearing into the kitchen to make some wonderful mussels and squid in marinara sauce.
Pasquale is a pleasure to have in the neighborhood. It's hard enough to find restaurants where the food is good and moderately priced, or restaurants where the staff is so friendly and caring; but it's even harder to find one, like Pasquale, that has all three. One reason for his success is that Pasquale doesn't overreach. He has a small menu with 15 entrees, nothing particularly fancy: veals with lemon or marsala, a handful of modest pastas, a few seafood dishes.
And it's the seafood at Pasquale that sings. Order almost anything with seafood in it and it will be perfectly cooked: mussels marinara, mussels that are succulent instead of rubbery; antipasto despesce caldo, a wonderful large appetizer with mussels, shrimp cooked just to the line between sushi and sauteed, and ringlets of squid that prove squid can be -- and should be -- tender and mild.
Pasquale serves both appetizers with excellent light tomato sauces, softly textured with bits of tomato. But the sauces are seasoned differently, a nice touch.
For a main course you also can get fettuccine noodles topped with shrimp, squid and fish cooked so flawlessly that it melts (fettuccine baronelle). But the cream sauce doesn't do the fish justice. Top it with lots of coarsely ground black pepper.
Everything else we've had was good, too, although not as fine as the seafood. The meats, whether veal or chicken, are perfectly cooked, but the main drawbacks are the sauces, which sometimes taste more like gravies. Veal scaloppine al marsala, or veal with mushrooms and peppers, or chicken breast topped with prosciutto and cheese, all are served with thick brown sauces that need more "oomph."
The best of these dishes is veal francaise, three delicate scaloppines lightly dusted with flour, quickly sauteed, sprinkled with parsley and thin slices of lemon.
The least successful dishes are some of the pastas: spaghetti alla carbonara, which tastes good but is so thick with egg and cheese that it's hard to eat more than a few bites, and fettuccine alfredo, which tastes as if the kitchen poured cream over it straight from the container without any cheese or seasonings.
There are no dazzling pastries at Pasquale. But, with a few added touches -- better sauces and desserts -- this good restaurant could be an excellent one.
The special preparation of chicken was misspelled in last week's review of Whitey's. The process is called broasting.