Handmade pasta is work of art
June 9, 2008 · Updated 6:59 PM
Whats the secret behind that enigmatic smile? Pasta, of course.
Elisa Corcoran opened the aptly-named Mon Elisas on Winslow Way Dec. 4 to fill a niche -- good food to go -- in the islands culinary scene.
Its a restaurant, Corcoran said, but to-go food is what it really is.
Mon Elisas features pasta made fresh daily, with an emphasis on wholesome and organic ingredients. Lunch patrons can enjoy the fresh hot pasta bar, with their choice of sauce and topping, or catch a quick meal of soup with salad and a roll.
Opening-day hot offerings included baked aubergines (eggplant), veal-stuffed rice balls with mozzarella, mushroom-stuffed sausages of turkey and chicken, and pizzoccheri, a northern Italian dish featuring potatoes, savoy cabbage, buckwheat noodles and several cheeses. Soups of the day were minestrone and lentil with bacon, along with a tasty lamb stew.
Also on the menu that day were a lentil salad with lemon and feta cheese, as well as green salads and rosemary rolls from the Farm Kitchen.
Those who stop in for lunch will be tempted to take home other goodies, both local and imported.
The fresh pastas Corcoran sold this summer at the Farmers Market, including amori, spaghetti and penne, are available at $4 per pound.
The pasteria also features a tempting assortment of pastries from the islands La Dolce Vita, such as tiramisu, a chocolate decadence and a ricotta cheesecake.
Frozen entrees to take home and bake include spinach cannelloni with a saffron cream sauce, pizzoccheri and a vegetable lasagna (all $8). An Italian sausage lasagna is also available ($9).
Fresh or frozen sauces range from $4-$6, and include Mon Elisas special marinara, as well as an herb-drenched sugo danatra (duck sauce) and spicy puttanesca sauces with olives, capers and anchovies. Two pesto sauces, pine nut or red bell pepper, are also offered.
For those interested in doing more adventurous Italian cooking at home, Mon Elisas carries a variety of specialty items imported by Seattles Ritrovo, from staples like balsamic vinegars and olive oils, to exotic sauces and Italian herb blends.
Corcoran is quick to credit fellow chef Cynthia Remash -- recently returned from Italy -- for Mon Elisas varied and authentic menu. Shes very inventive, she said.
This is Corcorans first restaurant, but hardly her first venture into pasta-making.
She and her children, now teenagers, have been cranking out ravioli and cut noodles as long as they can remember.
The skill came in handy during the several years they lived in Ireland, Corcoran says.
If you wanted to eat anything ethnic there, whether it was tortillas or pasta, you had to make it yourself.
Corcoran says the enthusiastic response she received at the Farmers Market encouraged her to extend her offerings through a retail outlet.
She plans to participate in the market again next summer, and intends to buy as much local produce as possible.
Thats consistent with her emphasis on organic foods, and the underlying ideals of environmental responsibility and sustainability.
Im trying to use organic ingredients whenever possible, she said. The number one priority is good food, healthy food.
And what could be better than combining both? Pastas great, she said. Its a good comfort food for these cold winter nights.