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dish buzz: inexpensive italian at paprika

Posted Monday, September 20th, 2010 at 8:43 am by Lara in Cultural Bees. More in 10009

Lara also is founder and editor of Grits in the City

Homemade Eggplant Parmigiana with Pesto - Paprika

Homemade Eggplant Parmigiana with Pesto – Paprika

I’d been curious to try Paprika for a while. I was craving Italian, as well as something a little more gentle on the wallet, so Paprika was a perfect option. Somehow though (sadly) I missed an even better option – their prix fixe menu. Offered only from 5-7PM, you have an option of an appetizer and a main course. The appetizer selections include the soup of the day, tomato, mozzarella and basil, or arugula, pears, walnuts, and goat cheese. For your main course, you can choose from gnocchi with tomato and mozzarella, penne with braised vegetables and tomato, grilled chicken with arugula and tomato, and roasted Arctic char with spinach. Duly noted for the next visit. 

Homemade Gnocchi - Paprika

Homemade Gnocchi – Paprika

To start, we shared the homemade eggplant parmigiana with pesto. The serving of eggplant was very generous, smothered in a tomato ragu topped with a thin touch of cheese. For mains, we each elected to order something different so we could try more of the menu. One friend ordered the butternut squash ravioli. I liked that the pasta was very thin and larger than typical ravioli, making the pasta less overwhelming in the balance of the dish. However, I did not find the butternut squash and its accompanying sauce to be especially flavorful or memorable. I would be curious to try other ravioli offerings they may have in the future. Another friend ordered the gnocchi, which was served with prosciutto, sage and a tomato sauce. I oftentimes find gnocchi to be too chewy and served too cold to boot. I really enjoyed theirs though. It was just the right consistency – somewhat soft and moist, but not a rubber-like texture. The sage paired nicely with the tomato sauce, giving it a bold, rich flavor.

Penne - Paprika

Penne – Paprika

My favorite item though was my dinner selection, which sadly seems to not be listed on the menu and I’ve been unable to get them to confirm the exact name. The pasta is prepared fresh locally daily. It essentially was a basic penne prepared with a light tomato sauce, garlic, and chicken (click here for another view). I was originally torn among several other items on the menu when the server recommended this as her favorite. She said though it sounded simple, it really was her favorite thing on the menu. From our conversation, it seems the servers try most of the items on the menu – which is always helpful to customers looking for assistance in ordering. I think it was the simplicity that made this dish so good. The sauce was nothing crazy – no rare flavor combinations or odd ingredients present. But what it was though was extremely fresh – the flavor was very strong and natural. It was perfect when paired with a heaping portion of garlic (I love garlic, and this dish had slivers of garlic peppered throughout). The chicken was in very small bits, so you almost forgot it was there and it just blended into the pasta. Definitely a lesson that sometimes simple is the way to go.

Paprika – 110 St Marks Pl (between 1st Ave/Ave A) – 212.677.6563
Reservations Optional (Suggested at Peak Dining Hours)

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