(I’ve decided that I am going to try posting restaurant reviews here, in their own category.  They’ll mostly be around Boulder, of course, but when I travel, I will try to get in reviews, too.  Here’s the first.)

Pasta Jay’s is a restaurant I’ve walked past often (it’s just blocks from my house) but only recently gotten to.  It’s usually bustling on a weekday lunch, with large groups at the red-and-white checked tables.  The fare is pasta and pizza, but, from my small sampling, very well done.

We went there for lunch today, after intending to go Sushi Tora, next door and finding them closed.  It was a choice of desperation, or default, or something starting with D, imposed by Mom’s injured leg and a desire to not walk far.  It turned out very well.

Italian food is a bit of a workhorse in this country, with quick pasta and red sauce being a common no-thought meal of choice.  But it can also be truly wonderful, as I rediscovered last year.  After almost four years of college-cafeteria pasta bar being my main reminder of Italian food, I went to a then-new nearby Italian restaurant, and was blown away by their bruschetta (garlicky, with bread at just the right level of toasted crunch), their mussels (cozze al vino bianco is not something I usually think to order, but it called to me that night, and did not disappoint) and most of all by their tomato-mozzarella-portobello tower.

While Pasta Jay’s was not quite as much of an awakening, it was just the sort of solid, complex and satisfying food I seek when having Italian.  My parents ordered minestrone, and I had a mushroom ravioli.  The ravioli was wonderful, though not particularly mushroomy, being much more clearly about the tomato, onion and garlic.  Not at all bad, but not quite what I had envisioned.  The minestrone, however, was amazing: the sort of real-vegetables-in-real-broth that one seeks.  All together, and with tip, it came out to about $10 a person, which isn’t bad for lunch and is really rather good for the west end of Pearl Street.

I’m not going to attempt any numerical classification, and certainly not on the basis of one visit, but I will say that the food was very good, the service was attentive but not annoying (they even gave a small taste of the soup to Mom when she was trying to decide what to order), and the price was reasonable.  Definitely recommended.  It’s also one of very few Italian restaurants in downtown Boulder that I have come across.

(Next time, I’ll try to remember to take out my camera, and provide some pictures of the more scrumptious dishes.)