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As we write, we are one week into the coronovirus crisis that has shut down restaurants throughout Massachusetts and beyond. Many of our restaurant industry friends are out of work, and business owners face the heart-wrenching struggle to retool their operations literally overnight to accommodate new realities.
Generally, we did our part by stocking up, in what might say was a somewhat irresponsible fashion, on favorite restaurant experiences throughout the weekend leading up to the shutdown. Leftovers and a surprising home-cook sprint have sustained us since then.
Today, desperate for a change of pace, we picked up the phone. And placed a delivery order for Domino’s online.
So, not one of our locally owned go-tos. Not the restaurant owners who support every local cause. Not the places where we know the majority of the employees by name, the restaurant professionals we worry about the most right now.
The new Domino’s franchise in Wareham is owned by people who aren’t from around here. But they live here now, and in these difficult times, they need our support just as much as our mainstays do. They depend on our need to have someone else cook for us.
So, let us tell you about the food!
First, the atmosphere: Classic nearly-completed kitchen renovation, with a two-year-old PGA tournament replaying on the TV in lieu of live golf, and a cat hollering for attention.
The Big Dog began with the last glass of the 2013 Pietro Sartirano Barolo left over from the previous evening. We belong to the Wall Street Journal Wine Club and periodically get special bottles like this one, which Gina described as having a floral nose, and the Big Dog found unattractive. Gina opened a 2017 Domaine Martin Rasteau, a fresh blend heavy on the grenache.
Gina’s Domino’s selection was the Ultimate Pepperoni, done Brooklyn style, which features the thin crust she prefers, and we ordered it well done. The regular price for a 14-inch Ultimate is $15.99, but we had an online coupon for 50 percent off each pizza. The pizza was crunchy and spicy, and had a generous coating of cheeses as well as tomato sauce.
The Big Dog chose a make-your-own pizza, with sausage and green peppers. His “hand tossed” preparation, also well done, was a classic cheesy presentation ($14.50 regular price).
Both pizzas were delicious and hot upon arrival within a half hour of our order, excellent cold later for those of us who sometimes prefer it that way, and possibly best upon reheating. They paired well with our fancy wines and with a Bee Hoppy IPA.
We are grateful to our new neighbors for bringing us a Domino’s franchise. And we’re wishing all of us good health and financial security and an end to the pandemic that has upended our world.
Through the next seven days, some of our favorite Wareham restaurants will offer delicious oyster specials. Several informational talks are planned. The organizer, Wareham Village Association, will hold a fundraising gala at the new Rosebrook Event Center on Friday evening. A 5K road race is planned for Sunday morning, and the activities culminate on Sunday, May 3, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a fun street fair on Main Street. There will be plenty of oysters, beverages from our friends at Westport Rivers Vineyard and Buzzards Bay Brewery, two dozen crafters and artisans, music by the Southcoast Jazz Orchestra and our friend Mikelyn Roderick, and more!
It’s an event you don’t want to miss, and an example of the local food and shellfish industries coming together to promote several important aspects of the local economy.
Visit the Wareham Village Association website to learn more.
P.S. We kicked off the week with a lunchtime plate of fried oysters at Bailey’s Surf and Turf. Yum!
It’s a restaurant that leans towards Italian food, as you might guess from the name. But the menu is extensive — maybe overwhelmingly so. Don’t go into it thinking that your big decision of the night is going to be spaghetti? or linguine? Meatball? or sausage?
The decor is elegant, but you won’t find yourself squinting at the menu, because the lighting is bright — maybe jarringly so. The bar area is comfortable and expansive and on the night we were there, we could see Thursday Night Football AND a World Series game… but the bar does not attract people there for the game, for some reason. It feels like a chain but it’s not.
On the night we dined with our friends Nancy and Mario, the service was impeccable — more on that in a minute — and the food was excellent.
We started with a bottle of Root 1 Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile, and our friends selected the Falesco Sangiovese, both of which we declared good deals at $25 a bottle. We sipped and dove into the triangles of poufy-pizza-like bread served with olive oil while flipping through the menu and a page of specials.
Each of the four entrees we ordered came with our choice of salad with many dressing choices, or a “zuppa toscana,” featuring sweet sausage, kale, and potatoes in a thin milky broth. “Like the soup at Olive Garden,” the Big Dog whispered to Gina, who noted an almost imperceptible eye-roll by Nancy. (We love the Olive Garden. There, we said it.) Nancy got the soup and liked it. She did not mention whether it tasted like the Olive Garden’s.
The rest of us ordered the salad. Our waitress, who didn’t identify herself but the slip said her name was Cheryl, offered freshly grated cheese and the boys nodded, but Gina, henceforth “Miss Whiney Drawers,” got the first blast of cheese, and was dismayed. Noting the barely discernible non-verbal cues, Cheryl whisked the sullied salad away, and returned seconds later with a cheese-free plate. The salads were good, and that little soupcon of waitress expertise made them even better.
Mario often orders steak then worries about the likelihood that it will be overcooked, but he was quite happy with the tips Gorganzola ($21). The very large tips were served over fettucine and topped with a balsamic drizzle, in addition to gorganzola cheese crumbles.
Nancy selected the veal saltimbocca ($20) after asking whether we have ethical issues with veal, phrasing the question in a manner that would make Miss Manners proud. The traditional presentation was served alongside a square plate of linguine with tomato sauce and Nancy brought a lot of it home.
The Big Dog spotted scallops on the regular menu, noted that they were from New Bedford, and that they were served over spinach pasta ($21), and saw no reason to look further. Like Mario and his steaks, the Dog often orders scallops and frets that they will be overcooked, but he was surprised if not shocked in this case. The scallops were moist and tender, served with a hearty cream sauce, and topped with a generous fistful of crumbled bacon. And yummy.
The star of the evening arrived moments later: Gina’s spectacular osso bucco, a stately pork shank immersed in a bowl of polenta, festooned with sweet roasted carrots ($22). While the presentation was clearly the best of the table, and the meat and vegetables were excellent, Gina later observed that the polenta was lumpy and bland. It was a hearty serving, with plenty for a midnight snack and lunch the next day.
Overall, we would observe that the Pasta House is an extraordinarily good value. Each of our entrees was a substantial portion of good quality food, well worth the price before adding the very good soup or salad, along with the unique bread basket. Combined with the good service and beautiful decor, it’s a place we would not hesitate to recommend for a special occasion or important guest.
The Pasta House
100 Alden Road, Fairhaven
We at Chow are proud to be a sponsor of Wareham’s first-ever Oyster Festival, taking place this April. Please join us in Wareham Village on Sunday, April 27, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., for some great food, music, crafts, and fun.
The day begins with the Oyster Festival 5K Run/Walk, on a flat and scenic course through Wareham Village. Click here for registration information.
The event will feature an Oyster Trail, highlighting local restaurants which offer oyster dishes, between April 21 and April 27. The Wareham Village Association, which is presenting the Wareham Oyster Festival, will host a fundraising Gala in the former Tobey Memorial Library on High Street on Friday, April 25, from 5 to 9 p.m. The WVA will also host a Speakers’ Series, with educational and interesting presentations, book signings, cooking demonstrations, and more.
If you’re interested in supporting, helping, buying Gala tickets, or just learning more, please e-mail us.