Now ventura offers tasty selections

NOW Ventura follows lots of “thens” at its Santa Clara Street site in downtown. Homemade pasta sauce from scratch Old-timers may remember that the restaurant next to the Clock Tower Inn was once Pastabilities, then Table 13, Hush Restaurant & Lounge, Zoey’s Cafe, Pancho’s Mexican Cuisine and most recently Padrino’s Ristorante.

New owners Michael Grajewski, chef Dean Angelo and Rani John bring a diversity of talents to the task and have remodeled the space handsomely, with the bar area thriving in the front of the building, a slightly quieter dining area in a long adjacent room and a pleasant covered patio at curbside.

We were seated around 5 p.m. Easy homemade spaghetti sauce using fresh tomatoes in the dining room and were brought the regular menu along with the Happy Hour version. Homemade pasta sauce with fresh tomatoes Happy Hour, which was going strong in the other area, is listed as from 4-7 p.m. Easy homemade pasta sauce with canned tomatoes and 9-11 p.m. Recipe for homemade pasta sauce from scratch Mondays through Thursdays, 4-7 Fridays and Saturdays and “all day” Sunday. Easy homemade tomato pasta sauce The Happy Hour menu has lots of items from the regular menu, at lower prices, plus glasses of selected wines at $4, beers at $3-4 and well drinks at $5.

It turns out, though, if you want to take advantage of the Happy Hours, you have to sit in the bar area. White sauce recipe for pasta in hindi That makes sense, but I don’t understand why they gave us the Happy Hour menu, too, after we were seated in the dining room.

That didn’t deter us from trying some of the same items, at dinner prices. Homemade sauce for pasta We started with appetizers of The Trio ($10.95), a NOW salad ($13.95) and spiedini alla Romano ($9.95). Homemade spaghetti sauce recipe easy The trio consists of beef, mushroom and shrimp balls served with house dipping sauce. Easy homemade pasta sauce olive oil They were eminently shareable, being pleasantly plump and easily divided. Homemade cream sauce for pasta The beef version tasted like a good, fresh meatball, the mushroom ball was full of flavor and the shrimp version had flecks of shrimp folded into other elements completing the mix. Homemade cheese sauce for pasta Each can be ordered as a trio of matching balls instead of the mixed sampling.

Impressions: Friendly atmosphere with contemporary and craft-oriented touches; pleasant service; accent on fish dishes plus pastas and others with Northern Italian influence.

What’s hot: trio of beef, mushroom and shrimp balls, spiedini alla Romano, linguine malafemina, blackened tuna, fettuccine primavera.2 for dinner

Starters: Trio of beef, mushroom and shrimp balls ($10.95) + spiedini alla Romano (battered Italian grilled cheese with an anchovy sauce, $9.95) + NOW salad ($13.95)

Spiedini alla Romano ($9.95) was new to us, with its batter-coated Italian grilled cheese, incorporating mozzarella, served with a choice of anchovy sauce or tomato basil sauce. Making a white sauce for pasta We opted for the anchovy version and it added a gentle touch of the sea to the dish. Homemade italian pasta sauce recipe from scratch The NOW salad, chosen because the title seemed to signal a house specialty, was an ample plate of “exotic” greens with Gorgonzola cheese and white balsamic vinaigrette. Tomato pasta sauce with passata The greens were appealingly fresh, but their exoticism of shapes and size made them a little hard to scoop up with a fork.

The simplest of our main dishes, homemade fettuccine primavera ($14.95) was definitely a winner, with its fresh mixed vegetables lapped with a light pink cream sauce completing its gentle flavors. Tomato pasta sauce names Our friend may have chosen our other pasta, linguine malafemina ($18.95), because its title seemed to indicate that it was “bad woman” linguine, which gave her the giggles. Homemade tomato pasta sauce jamie oliver But it stood up on its own, title or not, with its lively mix of black olives, jumbo shrimp and clams, stirred with a light marechiara sauce complementing the dish with its mild seafood flavor tomato accent.

Our ahi tuna fan loved his blackened tuna plate, as did others who sampled the fish along with its garlic mashed potatoes and julienne veggies. Quick and easy homemade pasta sauce A red wine reduction with shallots was the well-paired sauce. Tomato pasta sauce thermomix Rounding out the main courses was chicken giambotta ($21.95), which paired pan-seared chicken with a stew of sautéed “peppers,” mushrooms, onions, cherry peppers and thin-sliced potatoes. Best homemade spaghetti meat sauce Unfortunately the “peppers” mentioned in the menu description did not include jalapeños, which were there in plenty, their sharp flavor distracting from the good features of the dish. Homemade pasta sauce recipe from scratch Luckily as I picked them out of my dish a friend eagerly piled them onto hers.

There were moments of thoughtful service during our stay, as when a man, I believe it was co-owner Rani John, came to our rescue when our table was getting full with NOW’s generously large plates.

But obviously NOW was not then sufficiently staffed to take care of those in the dining room and those in the bar area. 4 cheese sauce recipe for pasta When someone in our group ordered a filet of sole dish from the menu for his entrée our server had to return to tell us there was no sole available. Homemade pasta sauce from fresh tomatoes He asked for a minute or two to choose another dish, as we had already ordered ours, she said yes but then never returned. How to make homemade pasta sauce He finally caught the attention of another server in the area and gave his order, justifiably worrying by that time whether his dish could possibly arrive along with ours. Tomato pasta sauce calories As it turned out despite the 15 minutes or so lapse, all arrived at the same time, on those giant plates.

Even though not seated in the Happy Hour area we did order some well-prepared drinks, including a pomegranate and a cucumber basil martini, both distinctive and refreshing, and a glass of the “red wine of the day,” $6 for us, $4 for those gathered in the next room for Happy Hour.

Starters: Trio of beef, mushroom and shrimp balls ($10.95) + spiedini alla Romano (battered Italian grilled cheese with an anchovy sauce, $9.95) + NOW salad ($13.95)