Grocery Guide

No Long Hair, Just Long Noodles at Fabio's Fresh Pasta

As you might have guessed from my recent posts about Houston's terrific ravioli and tortellini offerings, I'm on a bit of a pasta kick. Some readers rightfully pointed out that neither of my Top 5 lists included anything from Fabio's Fresh Pasta, and in truth their exclusion was due only to my own ignorance.

Given that Fabio's is located just a stone's throw away from my house, I know I must have passed it on numerous occasions. But my eyes failed to take notice of its rather understated black-and-gray sign. No patrons spilling out the doors and few cars in the parking lot also perhaps make Fabio's easy to miss.

Fabio's offers extremely limited sit-down dining (i.e., one table) but most people, myself included, venture in to buy the takeout pasta made daily in-house. Varieties of fettuccine and spaghetti (plain egg, spinach, basil, jalapeño) are available as well as more complicated types of stuffed pastas such as ravioli (cheese, spinach, lobster!), tortellini (smoked duck!) and mezzaluna (eggplant! chicken!). Fabio's also conveniently sells marinara, pesto and alfredo sauces that you can use to dress your pasta at home.

All of the aforementioned is reasonably priced considering it's hand-prepared and made with quality ingredients. Sorry if you won't pay more than $2 a jar for red sauce that's loaded with sugar and preservatives. This story continues on the next page.

Late on a weekday afternoon, I stopped by Fabio's, where I was immediately greeted by an employee who waited on me while (I think) the owner finished ironing out the details of a wholesale order. The fridge was stocked with pre-portioned containers of fettuccine and spaghetti, but on request, they gave me a half-pound of freshly made chicken mezzaluna.

And then a most unexpected lagniappe: a piece of their tres leches cake. (As if I wouldn't be consuming enough carbohydrates that night.)

Fabio's advises eating their fresh pasta within three days of purchase; otherwise, you should freeze it immediately to preserve the quality. With some fresh pesto sauce at home, I had no plans to do the latter.

The first thing I always notice about fresh pasta is wonderful uneven quality. Yes, inconsistency can be a good thing, especially in a world of mass-market macaroni production dedicated to replicating each and every noodle perfectly. Each half-moon of dough looked just a little different from the others, though the aromatic stuffing of chicken, celery, herbs and cheese remained reassuringly steady in flavor. The half-pound I bought for $4 was not enough to share. Not that I wanted to, anyway.

Finally, even though this visit was my first to Fabio's, I have most likely already eaten their pasta. As a testament to the quality of their product, Fabio's supplies its pasta to many restaurants in Houston. I suggest, however, you cut out the middlemen and just buy a few pounds yourself to take home.

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Joanna O'Leary