Like voluntary tasings and constructive criticism, some meals are best when delivered in small doses. Snack in stride with today's Groupon: for $15, you get $30 worth of Italian and Spanish cuisine at Pastas and Tapas in Johns Creek.
The chefs at Pastas and Tapas form a bridge between the culinary traditions of Italy and Spain using chewy pasta, saucy adhesives, structured salads and nearly 20 hot and cold tapas. Pair fresh pastas such as linguini ($5) and lobster ravioli ($9) with 1 of 10 freshly concocted sauces, which include the simple tomato-basil pomodoro ($7) and bolognese di agnello, a crimson sauce that hosts a pool party for ground lamb and vegetables ($9.50). Nearly 20 small plates offer to kick off meals and dust off sharing skills. Aged cheeses travel to mouths accompanied by Spanish charcuterie ($12), and the gambas al ajillo ($6.50) introduces teeth to garlic-sautéed shrimp with red-pepper flakes hot enough to blast away decades of plaque. Leafy fare, such as the spinach-and-strawberry salad, can be eaten solo ($4), shared with a date ($6), or woven into an autumn wreath.
Pastas and Tapas
It’s hardly a surprise that chef Tony Vitulli’s food embodies his Italian heritage, from housemade pasta sauces to rich and decadent slices of tiramisu. Yet, it’s the tapas that add complexity to his traditional Italian recipes. While living in Spain, Tony married a Spanish woman and fell in love with the country’s signature small plates. The couple then moved to Atlanta, where they opened up their trendy bi-cultural eatery. The kitchen, which Robert Nebel of the Examiner.com applauded for “[concentrating] on quality, rather than quantity,” represents Spain with a range of tapas, such as lamb kebabs and chorizo omelets, and churns out seven types of long and short pastas drenched in 13 sauces—each one made from scratch. Golden-yellow walls and exposed brick encircle a handful of tables set for two inside the cozy space. Diners can also head to the outdoor patio and enjoy a pitcher of homemade sangria alfresco, which is Italian for “while posing for a mural.”