I’m not sure why I’m just now getting around to Tony’s Pasta. I’m coming up on a year of blogging in just a few months, and Tony’s is hands-down one of my favorite restaurants in Chattanooga. It has been since the first time I ever ate there…..over twelve years ago, when Philip and I were first dating.
Tony’s Pasta is hidden in the Bluff View Art District in downtown Chattanooga, near the Walnut Street Bridge and Hunter Art Museum. It’s a cozy little (maybe not so little anymore!) restaurant with outdoor seating areas out front as well as on the balcony upstairs that are lovely for warm days. This day was not so bad, but we were not brave enough to sit outside in the 50ish degree weather-although other people were. The inside of the restaurant is what could be described as “rustic”, with dark wood walls, floors, and tables. We were seated upstairs, which is a fairly small room. It seems that this is where we usually sit, and that’s fine with me.
We were quickly greeted by our server, Heath, who took our drink order and returned shortly with our waters (of course!). We perused the menu for a few minutes. I knew that I was going to get the spinach and garlic ravioli off of the “create-your-own” menu, definitely my all-time favorite dish at Tony’s, but it took me a few minutes to make a decision about my sauce. Would I choose sun-dried tomato and artichoke cream? Tomato and spinach cream? Basil pesto cream? I finally decided on sun-dried tomato and artichoke cream, plus a Caesar salad. After very seriously considering the Italian sausage burger, Philip decided on the baked penne with Italian sausage, tomato-basil sauce, and mozzarella, with a Caesar salad as well.
After taking our order, Heath quickly returned with a loaf of bread-roasted-garlic ciabatta-and olive oil with grated parmesan for dipping. This bread is heavenly, and, to be perfectly honest with you, I could eat just this bread as my meal. Roasting garlic kills the strong garlic flavor and makes it sweet and soft. It’s perfectly delicious. There is a bread bakery on the premises at Bluff View, so you know that the bread is always fresh, which makes me very happy. The salads came out soon after. Now, I know I talked about BiBa’s yummy Caesar salad a while back, and while it’s great…..nothing compares to Tony’s Caesar salad. I love that you can tell that it’s made from whole hearts of romaine, which is how I make my Caesar salads, with very fresh croutons and shaved parmesan-which, I’m sure, is true Parmigiano-Reggiano. You can taste the individual ingredients (including, yes, the anchovy, which just lends a salty, savory taste, not at all fishy. Don’t be afraid of the anchovy!). It’s pretty much the perfect Caesar salad, and, yes, I ate every bite of it.
Shortly after we finished our salads, our entrees came out. I absolutely love this housemade ravioli. When you visit at night, sometimes they are out of ravioli. While that’s always a bummer, that tells you two very good things: (1) the ravioli tastes fantastic; and (2) it’s made here, so it’s not superstocked in the freezer. It’s fresh. It’s just a little garlicky, just a little cheesy, and so delicious. The ravioli is a reasonable portion, with a reasonable amount of sauce. That’s one of my favorite things about Tony’s: while the portions are certainly not miserly, they are also not the gargantuan portions that you generally get at chain restaurants. The sauce was tomato-ey, creamy, and a little bit sweet from the sun-dried tomato (one of my favorite things on earth) with grated parmesan cheese and quartered artichoke hearts. I super-adore artichoke hearts, so I tried to cut my artichokes into smaller pieces so that I could get some in every bite. I ate most of the ravioli, leaving a few pieces because I was full and wanted to avoid becoming overstuffed.
Philip’s baked penne came in a little gratin dish topped with bubbly, browned mozzarella. The sauce is fresh and homemade, just a little bit chunky….but not too much. I wish I had thought to ask if the Italian sausage was made in-house, but I didn’t. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is, though, or at least somewhere in the art district. Philip said that it tasted great, and even after he was full he had to finish all of the sausage. He said that it wasn’t spicy (although he wouldn’t have minded if it was) and it was just delicious. Unfortunately, I am not a fan of Italian sausage, so I didn’t try it. I do love their baked pastas, though. Again, the portion was not tiny but not so huge as to be overwhelming. He ate most, but not all of it. Heath offered dessert, but by that point, all we could do was laugh. Desserts come from Rembrandt’s Coffee House across the street (which is where Philip proposed to me!) and of course are delicious…but that’s another blog post.
Now, I’m not going to lie. The tab was not cheap. The salads were the thing that kind of “put it over the top”. We don’t eat out much, though, so I generally don’t feel too bad about ordering what I want in a restaurant. When the food is this fresh and delicious, and the money is going back into the local economy all around, why would you feel bad? Tony’s is definitely THE place to go in Chattanooga for perfect pasta. I highly recommend it! If you are not in the mood for pasta, they also have pizzas, sandwiches, and salads. I’ve never ordered anything I didn’t like! Go for lunch, go early, or be prepared to wait, though. It’s a popular place, and the wait at peak times can be a killer!
Tony’s Pasta is located at 212 High Street, Chattanooga, TN 37403. You can call them at 423-265-5033×6. They are open Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Visit the Bluff View website: www.bluffviewartdistrict.com or find it on Facebook.
Or CIngilli says