264 Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbad
My friend Mary suggested we meet at Fresco Trattoria in Carlsbad, and I agreed. My husband doesn’t like to spend money on pasta. After working in the grocery industry for 40 years, he claims that a $12 plate of pasta should only cost $2.50 to prepare. He also reminds me how little it cost us in Italy.
So I hadn’t been to Fresco’s in years, and I forgot how beautiful the dining room is. The owner, Leone D'Arcangelo, hails from Sperlonga, Italy, a beachfront town midway between Naples and Rome.
Both Mary and I were very hungry, but we decided to bypass the antipasti and go right to the main course. Our server told us that their fish is fresh daily, and the pasta is made on the premises. He also told us that their water is bottled in Tuscany, which I found a little over-the-top. I’ve had the water in Tuscany, and it didn’t leave any impression on me.
Mary decided to go old school and ordered Fresco’s signature lasagna with meat sauce. I ordered the Ravioli di Zucca, pasta filled with butternut squash. I ordered wine, and Mary had them make her a fancy gin and tonic.
The room was busy for a Monday night, and people conversed with the servers at length at booths and small tables underneath wall murals. A fountain gurgled in the middle of the room.
When the food arrived, Mary smiled at the sight of the lasagna. She hadn’t seemed so happy in weeks. I tried a little. The sauce was intensely flavored, the cheeses melted into creaminess, the meat was just chunky enough, and the noodles were perfectly cooked.
I looked at my own plate and took a bite. The ravioli was filled with butternut squash, ricotta, and parmesan cheese finished in Grand Marnier sauce was obviously made fresh. It was warm and tender, pillowy light, slightly sweet, and with a hint of nutmeg and other spice. The sauce was so delicious that I wanted to drink it.
I would love to take my husband to Fresco, but at $18 a dish he wouldn’t enjoy it.