Hummingbird Pastaria, formerly known just as Pastaria, is serving amazing fresh Italian food in a familiar location on Signal Mountain.
So, last weekend I gave Philip three choices for our late afternoon lunch. Two were in Ooltewah…and one was on Signal Mountain. He ended up choosing the Signal Mountain option, so we headed up the mountain to check out Hummingbird Pastaria.
Hummingbird Pastaria has been around for a couple of years, but you may remember it as Nino’s Pastaria…or just Pastaria, which is how most people know it. The restaurant has been around for years, but changed hands a little while back. Since the change in ownership, they’ve upped their menu game, serving handmade pastas, handmade cheeses, house made breads…I’m not sure why it took us so long to get back in.
We arrived around 4 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon and the place was fairly empty…a couple of large parties occupied the dining room but other than that there was no one in there. We requested a seat on the patio and our server brought us some water and homemade focaccia with cannellini bean puree. The foccaccia was fresh with a very tender crumb, the cannellini bean puree flavorful with garlic and herbs. We couldn’t resist the bruschetta ($7), though, and thank goodness for that. With crunchy grilled bread, melted mozzarella, and a blend of fresh tomatoes, garlic, julienned basil, and olive oil, this was the best bruschetta I’ve ever had. I was still talking about it the next day. It was so fresh and so tasty – surprisingly for late October tomatoes. I was already sold before I got through the appetizer.
I was stuck between the bolognese – meat sauce with tomatoes, cream, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and house made pappardelle (wide ribbons of pasta) for $13 or the funghi bianchi – mushrooms, cream, spinach, truffle oil, and housemade fettucine for $12. When our server described the funghi bianchi as kind of an amped up fettucine Alfredo, I was sold. If you guys haven’t figured this out, I’m a sucker for a good cream sauce. The handmade pasta was absolutely amazing – the texture of fresh pasta is just so different from dried. The cream sauce was thick and rich, and the truffle oil provided the perfect finishing layer of flavor and a complement to the sauteed mushrooms. There was just enough spinach to add a little color to the dish, and a sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano crowned the pasta beautifully.
It didn’t take Philip long to settle on the polpette – pork meatballs with marinara, pecorino, and housemade spaghetti ($10). I like to add a little ground pork to my meatballs, but I’ve never made them with all pork…now I know that I need to. The meatballs were so tender, with a lighter flavor than a meatball made with all beef or a mixture of ground meats. The sauce had a great flavor, with the freshness of tomatoes set off by garlic and herbs. The pecorino (a sheep’s milk cheese similar to Parmigiano-Reggiano) added a delicious tanginess to the dish, and the spaghetti was just the perfect classic pasta for this dish. He also got a Caesar salad ($6) – romaine lettuce with croutons, Spanish white anchovy, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. The salad was fresh and crunchy, with a classic (i.e. not creamy Caesar dressing), lemon wedges on the side, and an actual anchovy fillet on the side. If you are squeamish about such things (we are not) you may want to ask them to leave that off. It was a very tasty salad.
Was this our most economical meal in recent history? At $42.06 pre-tip (Philip also ordered a beer)…no. But I have to say, I would pay it again for a meal that makes us swoon like this one did. Like I said, I was still talking about this meal the next day. It was absolutely amazing. The service was good – friendly and attentive – and the atmosphere is simple but nice. It’s definitely a staple on Signal Mountain.
If you’re looking for a delicious Italian meal, Hummingbird Pastaria is the place to look!
Hummingbird Pastaria is located at 720 Mississippi Avenue, Signal Mountain, Tennessee, 37377. They are open Monday – Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. You can call Hummingbird Pastaria at 423-886-1900. For more information, you can check out Hummingbird Pastaria’s website or follow Hummingbird Pastaria on Facebook.