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Tutto Pasta Trattoria

In a word: Probably shouldn't Tutto its own horn.

The specs: #0670  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at The Mad Samplers, Chew On That, Yelp, Open Table, Alexandra's Kitchen, Trip Advisor, City Search, Madison Date Night, Culinary Adventures in Madison, Eat Drink Madison, Kitchen Witchery; official web site, Tutto Pasta Trattoria on Urbanspoon

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Darby ate the cheese ravioli alfredo with a sangria and a crème brûlée.
Dave ate the carbonara and a piece of chocolate cake.
JM ate the cheese ravioli in red sauce and a slice of Oreo pie.
Joshua ate the margherita pizza and a cannoli.
Nichole ate the penne puttanesca with a sangria and a piece of tiramisu.
We split some bruschetta.
JM gave Tutto Pasta Trattoria a C+. Dave and Nichole gave Tutto Pasta Trattoria a C (see our grading rubric).

Tutto Pasta is Madison's go-to Italian restaurant. Or not. Until recently, there were three of them and they had varying degrees of collegiality.  From the public's POV, it's all the same stuff but instead of providing a standard, Tutto seems to set the baseline, a minimum bar to clear in order to be OK - places like Biaggi's and Benevenuto's can even clear it.

BruschettaMushroom ravioli

As for our group, we liked it OK but it never got to wow. Thanks to Joshua's recommendation we got a nice serving of the fragrant and toasty bruschetta. It was good because it was bruschetta.  These are the kinds of things that Tutto does well: it almost exactly meets your expectations.

On the drinks front, there was a sangria special that the ladies snagged. The fruity drink's raison d'etre was the opening of Legally Blonde at Overture which we hope was more fun than the Watery Bland drink: it was weak and the fruit seemed kind of old. The lemonade was fine, though again from a gun.

The rundown of entrees is similarly so-so.  The pizza looked good and did get a thumbs up - but was indeed just an olive oil infused cheese pizza. If anything, it was too cheesy (heresy?), but it did have a nice hand-tossed crust.  The carbonara could have been less squishy and may have relied too strongly on its creamy lipids to make up the difference.

Pizza margheritaCarbonaraRavioliPenne putanesca

Both orders of ravioli (veggie and cheese) were fine but nothing too spectacular.  They were appropriately stuffed, though you can get a few more for a few less dollars at other places within walking distance - let alone at other higher quality joints elsewhere. The vegetable incarnation came with sauteed mushrooms, which yielded a better than expected experience.

Nichole's puttanesca may have been the star of the entree selection and even that was a little dry.  The dish, however, was very salty (as it should be) and hot on the lips with scads of olives and capers.  It held up pretty well relative to everything else with the veggie ravioli running a close second.

But what does it say that we all got dessert? Like a Rube Goldberg reaction from a 50s horror movie in which the creature is created from the scientist dropping the bottle of acid on the lab floor, one by one each of decided to pick out a dessert and we all basically doubled down on dinner.

 TiramisuOreo pieChocolate cakeCannoliCreme brulee

The cannoli was good if standard, filled with pistachios, chocolate syrup and cherries.  The crème brûlée was indeed nice and creamy with a decent but not memorable carmelized shell. The tiramisu was served cool, though it was mild and powdery. The chocolate eruption cake was more pahoehoe than aa and that led to a gooeyness problem. JM's Oreo pie (the most obviously not of the Italian food genre) was fine, but tasted a little too much like the cottonseed oil-based Burger King rendition for him to feel like he was a step up from there.

Tutto Pasta, then, is average in every respect and probably a bit overpriced. JM claims to have had better at almost every Italian restaurant he's been to - which just shows how inflated a "C" grade from us is. Meanwhile, Dave "would choose Chipotle over Tutto Pasta if they are the last two on State St. in the next apocalypse." Your mileage, obviously, may vary.

Comments

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I've eaten there twice. The food tasted like frozen Italian dinner from Trader Joe's. It wasn't inedible, just boring and overpriced. I can't understand why anyone would eat there when there are so many better choices nearby. It's often packed, too.

As I understand it, the recently closed Tutto Pasta Cucina Italiana on King Street was an entirely different enterprise from the Tutto Pastas on State Street and in Middleton, so it really isn't accurate to say that there are three locations.

A GOOD pizza does NOT ALWAYS need a LOT of cheese. However so long as the crust is properly cooked and the cheese is appropriately melted, it is IMPOSSIBLE to have too much cheese on a pizza [especially in Wisconsin LOL]!!!

A friend had a birthday party at this place nine months ago. We had to wait forever for a table. They refused to divide the check among us. Since there were more than 8 people they basically ignored us the whole evening because they had an automatic gratuity. They messed up everyone's drink order and put ice in cream-based drinks that made the drinks watery and unappetizing. One person at our table didn't get their entree until after everyone else had eaten. Another person had food allergies and was told that care would be taken to not make her sick but the food still triggered her allergies.

All in all a terrible place. A C is too generous.

I'll never go back to this place. Really overpriced for what you get - which in my case, was a huge pile of egg noodles that I could have paid 79 cents for at Woodman's. On top of them, somewhere, one could detect, if one looked hard enough, some kind of meat and vegetables - but maybe 2 or 3 small pieces of each. It was essentially a $17 plate of egg noodles.

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