Restaurant A Winner Right Out Of The Gate

Filling up on opening night, and most nights since
BY: MARI NARA

More than enough pasta is the American translation of Pasta Y Basta. this intimate trattoria in Rosarito where chef Christian Gritti presides over the wide open kitchen so, as he says, “My customers can see the fresh ingredients used and where the food comes from.” Not to mention they can check out the cleanliness. 

Christian and Bonnie Gritti serve from the heart in their restaurant in PoptolaThe chef is a young Italian man in his twenties who comes from a professional background in Italy where he trained at a culinary schools in San Pellegrino, while working as a chef at a one star Michelin rated eatery called Restaurante Lo Ro. He has also worked at a variety of restaurants stretching from his hometown of Bergamo all the way to the Italian Riviera and always with rave revues from his guests. Well, that’s what he tells us, what would we know about what goes on in Italy?

Christian  Gritti and his Mexican American wife Bonnie serve dishes originating in the northern region of Italy and feature a special dish I have tried called pansotti and pesto; a delicate ravioli in an equally delicate pesto sauce. His noodles are hand made in his kitchen where you can see the difference between what you buy in the super market, a dry noodle made with flour and water, as opposed to his noodles made with egg, white wine, and salt. A special dish is featured nightly and posted on his black board, and that changes each night.

Beer is not served and his wine list is limited to Villa Montefiore red and white. The Chef chose to remain true to his Italian heritage, choosing this vineyard located in our Valle owned by an Italian who arrived 18 years ago from Italy with vines in hand. The prices for these wines are $6 to $8 a glass. Soda, coffee Pellegrino Frizzante water, and Pellegrino sparkling fruit beverages are available.

The menu is extensive with three courses, as well as a dolce (dessert in Italian).

Choosing was difficult but we finally decided on two of his most popular on the primi menu. Pansotti, a fresh homemade ravioli stuffed with ricotta and spinach and sautéed with fresh pesto. Our other choice was his most popular dish, fettuccine frutti di mare, which is freshly made fettuccini sautéed with calamari, shrimp, octopus, mussels, clams and tomatoes. We ended with a light and delicious Tiramisu. Our second visit was for his outstanding zuppa di cipolle, a creamy onion soup with fresh quail eggs from the El Nido ranch and cheese popcorn.  

His secondi menu also includes coniglio, rabbit cooked in herbs, garlic and white wine as well as pork ossobuco slow cooked for four hours with onions, carrots, celery, lemon and herbs. All items on this menu include polenta or potatoes roasted in foil or sautéed vegetables.

The service was outstanding with a professional flare but still with a touch of rustic old country Italian to go with the décor and friendliness evident in Pasta Y Basta.

 You will not find lasagna or any other southern Italian specialty on his menu, because Chef Gritti wishes to remain true to his northern heritage. He has included some of our local spices to his dishes, however. Cilantro, avocado and jalapeno do appear in some of his creations. He tells us his soups are legendary in Italy and they feature his onion soup with slightly hard boiled quail eggs and popcorn bread. The soup is a light color and no relation to the French style.  

The Grittis have their personal story framed and posted in their restaurant, telling of their background and what they hope to achieve, as well as his love of food and the dishes he plans to feature. The four courses that are typical in Italian families are explained so their menu becomes familiar and easy to peruse.

Bonnie and Christian began a business in Rosarito selling his pastas out of their home. It was going well but then they saw on the free road a small store front attached to a store called Pinata.  This store had seen better days and needed a complete renovation, but they bought it, as this was their dream. Bonnie loved much of the store’s furnishings and decided to keep many of them, which they are selling off right out out the restaurant, the proceeds going to the former owner. Her father, who owns a business in Otay Mexico, also agreed to help with the renovation that took 18 days of hard labor. The trattoria was finished and opened on June 18th and it seats 30.

A Trattoria is a less formal setting than a reastaurant, and is always small, with casual service. It is unpretentious often following regional recipes with a rustic feel, a family setting with the emphasis on a steady clientele rather than elaborate meals. Sometimes a trattoria serves family style. A trattoria also follows an ever changing seasonal menu with cheese and wine and in the winter months, wild game. This is the ambiance the Grittis aimed for and have achieved.

Their first night they served 60 dinners and had a full house for the rest of the weekend. As I was fortunate enough to attend their first seating, I saw the entire restaurant stand and applaud when Christian came from behind his kitchen to see to his guests. That’s not something I see every day. These young people work hard, they are always present, and always wish each client a grazie and buon appetito with a cheerful smile on their face.

 Pasta y Basta does not as yet have a website, but does have a Facebook page where he can announce his daily specials as well as any changes in his menu. 

The restaurant is very new with its grand opening in late June and already has many return diners and a full house on most evenings. Watch for extended hours during the summer months.

It’s at Km 28.5 Boulevard Artesanal Popotla across the street from Castillo Del Mar. Open 4 to 9 pm, closed on Wednesdays. Reservations can be made at {661}1179 825. No credit cards at this time. ,