Pasta Plus has a lot of pluses. It's a modest Italian restaurant with consistently good food, a simple but attractive environment, friendly service and reasonable prices. There's a sense of authenticity, too: Pastas are made in house, frying is done with great care, and sauces are well executed, if a bit generously applied. And it is located in an area that isn't plentifully endowed with good restaurants.
For appetizers, the mozzarella in carrozza and fried zucchini are both outstanding, light, delicate and admirably free of excess oil. Mussels are excellent too, fresh and plump and in a wonderful broth with lemon, oil, minced garlic and pepper. To munch with your mussels, have the top-notch white pizza, with a light, airy, slightly crisp crust, garlic and a touch of grated cheese. (It beats the optional garlic bread.)
Because of its delicacy, canneloni is always a good test item among the pastas. Poorly made, it can be an unpleasant mush. Carried off well, as it is here, it's a delight, with separate, clearly distinguishable flavors and textures: nicely seasoned ground veal, spinach, a paper-thin feathery pasta wrapper, a lively tomato sauce.
Timbalo is a pasta specialty of the house, similar to lasagna except that crepes are interlayered with the meat and cheese instead of the conventional pasta. On our last visit it was nicely done with adequate separation of the layers, but the tomato sauce, although bright and fresh tasting, was applied so heavily that it made the dish somewhat soupy.
The tomato sauces are reliably good across the board, and the white wine sauce, artfully spiked with lemon, butter and garlic, is easy to love. It's always available with chicken or shrimp, and sometimes as a special, with veal or fish. You won't go wrong with any of these: The veal is high-quality meat, pale, tender and unpounded, and the shrimp have been fresh, plump and juicy. A recent swordfish special was perfectly fresh and carefully broiled, but the slab was too thin for real succulence.
We found the calamari properly tender, but the home-made linguini on which they rested was compressed into a nearly solid tangle -- an unusual slip-up. There was no such problem with the pasta side orders that accompany the entrees. In too many restaurants those little dishes are just an afterthought, with pasta mush and an indifferent sauce, but here they're worth eating in their own right.
To wash all the good food down, don't overlook the excellent Raffo beer from Italy, full-bodied and mellow. It's even more impressive than Moretti, a more widely available Italian import.
Dessert? The house cake is forgettable, the cheesecake lacks flavor, but the cannoli and creme caramel are winners.