Alexander’s Pasta Express

By | July 11, 2006

Alexander’s Pasta Express
5104 Liberty Ave
Bloomfield, 15224
M-Th: 11-10:30; F-Sat: 11-11; Sun: 11-10

Restaurants with a gimmick rarely appease, and Alexander’s is no exception.  Their gimmick is a choose-your-own-pasta with a choose-your-own-sauce with a choose-your-own-toppings menu, but the result is only ever the sum of your choices.  They also have an entrée menu with various pre-set dishes, but these mostly fail to delight.  However, there are a couple of menu items that rise above these generalizations.  If you simply must go to Alexander’s for some reason, here is what to get.

Eggplant Alexander.  That’s pretty much it.  Not only is this the best thing on the menu, it is about the only good thing AND it is really freakin’ great.  Alexander’s is not what I would call consistent, but when they get the Eggplant Alexander right, well MMM, it is oh so right!  The eggplant is sliced incredibly thin, and they might even pound it flatter than that.  They fry it so that it becomes super crispy on the outside yet still eggplant-y on the inside.  You get several big thin slices, plus cheese and sauce, and the whole thing just works.  On occasion it’s too cheesy, or it just has a weird taste, but by far this is the best dish on the menu.  If you get it, you most likely won’t be disappointed.

Curly-Q Pasta with Eggplant.  That is the other good thing.  Basically, it’s just a chopped up Eggplant Alexander mixed with some noodles.  I get this sometimes because I think that somehow it is more healthful than Eggplant Alexander.  When I think about it logically though, that doesn’t really make sense.  Subtract some fried and some cheese, but add carbs…no matter.  It is still good, though not as good as the Eggplant Alexander.  Incidentally, it isn’t really called Curly-Q Pasta with Eggplant – I just can’t remember the name of it.

As for the rest of the menu: BO-ring.  You may be able to find a pasta-sauce-topping combination that you love, but by and large the food lacks its own enthusiasm.  However, I will say that the pasta combo menu makes Alexander’s a restaurant you can take finicky groups to.  That means older folks and little kids, which as it turns out are the primary clientele.  There are also young couples who make it their romantic spot, which works because it’s just cheap enough to accommodate young people’s pocketbooks while still feeling like a night out.

They also offer a few non-fat sauces and whatnot, so you could theoretically get a more healthful meal here. But who can’t make an equally healthful spag’ ‘n’ tomato sauce at home?  The sauces here really aren’t better than from a jar.  In particular, the ‘marfredo’ (marinara + alfredo) greatly disappoints as a tomato cream sauce.  As for the alfredo on its own, well, that is the one that I hear the most about.  Whenever anyone loves Alexander’s, they always seem to say “I get fettucine alfredo” usually “with chicken”.  So if you do go with a sauce from the gimmick-menu, you could consider that.  I haven’t had it personally, as I am petrified of horrid alfredo sauces.  Alfredo can be so good, but it can be so bad too.  Based on my experiences with the rest of Alexander’s menu I’d have to guess that it wouldn’t be that interesting, despite what I hear.

I just want to mention one good thing: at least Alexander’s is a locally owned restaurant.  In comparison to Bravo’s or one of those other big chains, the food is equally good.  If you are choosing between Alexander’s and one of those places, I would tell you to choose Alexander’s.  It has way more charm than a dressed-up warehouse.

So if you have a large group of finicky eaters, go here.  If you want a good Eggplant Parmigiana, go here.  If you are a vegetarian, go here.  If you are on a budget, go here.  Otherwise, I don’t recommend it.  Try one of the myriad Italian places lining the main drag of Bloomfield, or step it up a notch and go to Girasole or Il Pizzaiolo.

Eggplant Alexander

SNEAKY TIP:  For a more romantic dining experience, get seating in the tall cushy chairs in the bar room, or outside on a pleasant evening.

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