Hot Plate

Sweet Hereafter: With its Rat Pack tunes and Little Italy ambience, Auntie Pasto's [5101 Bellaire Boulevard, (713)669-8658] would seem a throwback to thick red sauces and even thicker accents, if not for its Southwestern spin on traditional pasta dishes or its luscious dessert, appropriately named To Die For. Constructed like a lasagna stack, the after-dinner treat starts with a light pastry loaded with a creamy mascarpone cheese filling and fresh strawberries. Next is a layer of ladyfingers soaked in rum and peach schnapps, followed by another layer cream cheese, this time with plump blackberries, blueberries or raspberries, depending on the season. The tower is topped with a chewy almond torte. You'll think you've died and gone to heaven.

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