Spaghetto In SoBe Offers Pasta Dishes Starting at $4.98

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Spaghetto is a new little joint on South Beach that offers diners their choice of 13 cuts of pasta, nine sauces, four additions, a salad, and three desserts. There are maybe a dozen indoor seats and a few more than that clustered on the sidewalk of Washington Avenue. You are not going to come here for the decor.

You may very well, however, find yourself drawn to Spaghetto for the pricing. The very basic meal, for $4.98, brings a soup bowl of "traditional" spaghetti, bucatini, fettuccine, fusilli, or macaroni noodles topped with arrabbiata sauce, pink sauce, "burro & salvia" (butter & sage), or tomato with basil. "Premium" gnocchi or filled pasta such as tortllino stuffed with bologna sauce or focchetto with beef start at $6.98. "Gourmet" ravioli, filled with porcini, lobster, or ricotta/spinach are $9.98.

There is a one dollar surcharge if you want pesto, alfredo, or Bolognese sauce; matriciana or carbonara sauce are $2 extra apiece. If you want a "medium" portion, which is bigger than the regular, the price for each pasta becomes $6.98, $9.98, or $13.98. For large servings, the price for each goes to $8.98, $12.98, and $17.98.

I'll let you know what I thought of the pastas, but first I have to finish telling you the options.

A "combo," which adds a salad and soda to your meal, is $8.98 for the traditional pasta, $10.98 for the premium, and $13.98 for the gourmet. When all is said, done, and counted up, you can still choose to have a modest bowl of pasta for $4.98, and can get a salad and soda on top for an extra $4. Chicken or shrimp with your noodles is $2 more; shrimp or meatballs are $3. I don't know that you can find a less expensive pasta meal on the beach.

The pastas I tried -- fettuccine carbonara and cheese tortellino with tomato & basil -- were fresh and cooked al dente. The sauces could use a little work. Tomato with basil was, for starters, missing the basil completely. It was basically pureed tomatoes with perhaps some onion in the mix, and minimal seasoning -- very plain, but with parmesan cheese, and if fresh basil were indeed added, it could pass muster. In a pinch, that is.

Carbonara was better, a creamy/eggy sauce that clung nicely to the noodles and featured notable nubs of bacon. I had the smallest version of both, and the price was $6.98 each; as a salad/soda combo it becomes $10.98 each. There is take-out as well as delivery up to five miles from the restaurant.

As Ray Davies writes in the song "Low Budget": "Cheap is small and not too steep/But best of all, cheap is cheap."

540 Washington Ave., Miami Beach

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