Why would I want to go to a restaurant named The New York Pasta Garden when I’m in Key West? HINT: Maybe because their food is fabulous? Michael and I grew up in New York and have always had access to wonderful food and really enjoy a great meal. Somehow, throughout our research and speaking with lots of people, we never heard about this restaurant. And to be honest, I’m not sure I would have put it on the top of our list. However, when we met Philip and Conchita at the dog park, “locals” who split their time between Key West and Saint Augustine and they raved about the New York Pasta Garden, we knew we had to try it. They even asked us to call them after we went there to give a rating. We had tickets to see a play that night and planned to stop in for a late dinner.
New York Pasta Garden is located in Duval Square and is tucked between Duval and Simonton Avenue. We parked in a large lot off Simonton ad walked towards a ton of fairy lights, right in the middle of a very commercial space,
John, the owner, has created an intimate garden ~ trees, lots of lush plants, fountains and fairy lights. It’s a beautiful outdoor space. (They actually have about 20 tables inside as well, but everyone was eating out in the garden). They welcomed me by name (not a lot of reservations for 10:30 PM, I’m guessing). We asked the greeter to point out John (the owner) because we wanted to introduce ourselves at some point but before we got to the table, John came over to shake our hands. Philip had called to say we were coming so we got a very warm welcome.
Our server, Jeannette, also welcomed us and told us she would take great care of us. I love when restaurant staff go out of their way to make you feel like family and that was the impression I got even though the restaurant was very busy and John apologized that he wouldn’t be able to spend more time with us because he was short two people.
It was lovely sitting outside and I thought I heard birds talking. (This was before we started drinking, thank you). I started looking around and saw a beautiful Macaw parrot in a nearby tree. John has four tame parrots (2 African Greys and 2 Macaws) that sit in the trees, yammer away and provide entertainment. They are beautifully colored and quite showy. At the end of the night, they climb down out of the trees into cages and are wheeled into the restaurant to sleep. What fun.
OK, the atmosphere is lovely, the staff is great, I love the parrots ~ now how about the food? The Key West Pasta Garden’s menu is pretty extensive and there were a lot of dishes that looked appealing. We split a Caprese salad because Philip said it was so wonderful and it lived up to his hype.
John made us a complimentary Artichoke Franchaise appetizer made of breaded artichokes with a luscious lemon, tarragon, white wine and garlic butter sauce.
It was scrumptious. We also had garlic rolls that were very tasty. Michael had a cup of homemade Clam Chowder and it might be the best we’ve ever eaten.
For entrees, Michael ordered Shrimp Olivia, which is the chef’s signature dish prepared with roasted red peppers, Kalamata olives and artichokes in a basil and garlic sauce.
I had Shrimp and Scallops ala Carino which was prepared with shallots, garlic and spinach with a delicious sherry crème sauce. No calories in this dinner! The portions were very generous and we took home part of each entrée and some of the salad which made a surprisingly good leftover meal the next night.
The meal was so good that I really wanted to try their Tiramisu for dessert but this will have to wait for another visit. Michael and I used to have the best Tiramisu at one of our favorite restaurants in Provincetown, Massachusetts and it was so good, I almost never order it anywhere else because it is such a disappointment. I think if anyone can give them competition it will be The New York Pasta Garden.
Michael did call Conchita the next day to rave about the food and thank them for recommending the restaurant. This is someplace I would frequent often if I lived here full-time. We plan to go back before we leave and I think we’ll give Philip and Conchita a call to see if they would like to join us for another wonderful meal ~ with dessert!