The Ravioli Fair Cart is Not THAT Bad
The Ravioli Fair cart outside One Chase Plaza got no love in the forums, and I know Daniel was not a big fan, but I think the place is getting a bad rap. I remembered having some great food there in the past… not only their Italian heroes, but also their pasta dishes. I decided to try it out once again.
Admittedly the results were mixed. You guys were right about the sandwiches, which are pretty underwhelming. Decent, just not anything I think I couldn’t get from one of the half-million pizzerias down here. The pasta, however, was even better than I remembered- and more than justifies this cart’s presence on downtown’s crowded streets.
The lasagna alone should put this place on the map, and even if you’re in the market for a hero, you could do a lot worse than Ravioli Fare.
I swear that I had a great parm from this place one time, though perhaps I was just hungover and not as discerning as usual. This time I went for the eggplant parm, which I generally prefer. I find the chicken that usually winds up getting parmigian-ed to be chewy and utterly tasteless. I’m in it for the fried stuff and the sauce, so the eggplant does the trick and is often — as it is in this case — a buck or two cheaper.
I had mixed emotions as I unwrapped my sandwich. On the one hand, it was big, at least a foot long. On the other hand, it wasn’t exactly overflowing with eggplant. I actually don’t like overstuffed sandwiches (massive burgers on puny buns are a big pet peeve) but this was definitely too far in the other direction. And a little amateur excavation turned out to be a mistake as it revealed some truly sickly looking strips of eggplant.
But I soldiered on and the whole thing tasted much better than that eggplant looks. The biggest problem was that there wasn’t enough sauce. Given that these sandwiches are probably made at 9 AM everyday, it makes sense to err on the dry side to avoid sogginess, but this one clearly needed some extra attention from the saucier. The bread was good though, the eggplant was quite tasty despite its appearance, and the flavor of the sauce was great. It’s a slightly-better-than-decent eggplant parm and at $6 and at a solid 12 inches, it’s really a pretty good option.
The lasagna, though. Yowza. This stuff is great. Plenty of their good, I’m thinking homemade, marinara with ricotta cheese and bit of a béchamel sauce. The perfect amount of very tasty ground beef and pasta that is surprisingly well-textured given the conditions. It’s a huge portion, and they give you almost a full loaf of bread on the side. It’s not a light lunch, and the beef can make it a little on the oily side. But boy is it good. At $7 it’s not dirt cheap, but I still call it a bargain.
My one warning about Ravioli Fair is that they’ve got what they’ve got until it’s gone, and stuff tends to get gone early. You can’t be sure of any one item lasting, but this might just be a good encouragement to try new stuff. Just like the lasagna, there may be another dark horse waiting in the wings.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Large sandwiches and very good pastas, from a cart no less!
- Generous servings for reasonable to very slightly high prices.
- Killer lasagna.
THE — (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- The sandwiches would obviously better if they weren’t pre-made
- This parm is edible, but far from the pinnacle of parm greatness.
- Lunch any earlier than 1 PM is breakfast and by that hour, it could be a choice between tuna and Bologna Milanese.
- Very curious name, especially for a business that seems to be operated by native English speakers.
Ravioli Fair Cart, Nassau St. btw. Liberty and Cedar, in front of One Chase Plaza