Italian on the cheap 

If you work downtown it's really easy to tire of the dining options offered by the River Market. The recent addition of Pasta Jack's Italian gives you one more option to eventually get burned out on, but if you've already had three gyros this week, if Fat Sam's isn't doing it for you anymore or if a salad and soup at Boulevard just won't hit the spot today, Pasta Jack's is a solid alternative.

The small Italian eatery sits in the southeast corner of the River Market, in the space formerly occupied by Hunka Pie. There are also two other locations in Benton and Bryant.

Jack's is a simple storefront, basically a kitchen with a counter, but maybe the low overhead is one reason Jack's isn't very expensive. You place your order and pay at the counter and then take a seat until the food comes up. Jack's staff was very friendly and went the extra step of coming out to our table after we got our food to make sure we had everything we needed.

If you order an appetizer, like we did, it will likely come out at the same time as your meal. The stuffed mushrooms ($4.25) are a great start. Other options for starters include garlic bread and cheese toast. The mushrooms came out hot and stuffed with parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Rich indeed, but very tasty and satisfying.

For the main course we tried a smattering of pasta selections. The lunch deal is a bargain at $5.95. That gets you a meal-sized heap of pasta, a slice of Texas Toast-style garlic bread and side salad that's big enough to warrant its own styrofoam container.

The spaghetti and meatballs weren't the best we've ever had, but the dish hit the spot. The pasta came al dente, just right. The marinara had a nice consistency, neither too thick nor too runny, and didn't taste like it came out of a can. The dense meatballs that came with our spaghetti were well-spiced, and everything came with a healthy sprinkle of freshly ground parmesan.

The chicken and tomato “specialty pasta” ($7.25) was simple but good — tomatoes and garlic chicken served with linguine in a butter sauce. There was plenty of chicken in the mix, unlike what you might expect at a larger chain restaurant where the amount of pasta can outweigh additional ingredients. Although it was a bit oily for our taste, it was seasoned with just enough garlic and basil to nicely gratify the palate without overpowering it. The strength of the dish was in the size of the portion, which, though the meal itself was fairly light, could accommodate a big appetite with leftovers to spare.

The alfredo sauce in the chicken alfredo ($9) was a standout, way better than something you'd find at an Olive Garden, but not quite up to par with, say, Bruno's or Cafe Prego. The side of garlic bread is a nice touch, although we found it to be strangely dry considering the amount of butter that came with it.

Pasta Jack's is a nice addition to an already-diverse selection of choices in the River Market. Ristorante Capeo it ain't, but for a quick Italian lunch, it's a pretty good bet. Nothing is remarkable, but everything is solid and for the price and the portion sizes — you're going to have leftovers — it truly is a bargain lunch spot.

Pasta Jack's Italian
400 President Clinton Ave.

Quick bite
The stuffed mushroom appetizer is pretty killer. If you don't have enough room for all of that, the lunch special, complete with salad and garlic bread, will take care of even the biggest cravings.

10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Other info
Credit cards accepted. No alcohol.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Arkansas Times Staff

Most Shared

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders to be deputy White House press secretary

    Donald Trump announced additional White House staff today, notably including Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy assistant to the president and principal deputy press secretary.
  • Legislation filed for $10 million school voucher program

    The legislation to vastly expand transfer of state tax dollars to private schools came before the school choice day event I mentioned earlier.
  • Watch the trailer for 'Shelter,' the Renaud Bros. new doc on homeless kids in New Orleans

    Check out the trailer for "Shelter," the Renaud Bros. new feature-length documentary about homeless teens navigating life on the streets of New Orleans with the help of Covenant House, the longstanding French Quarter shelter for homeless kids.
  • Trumpeting

    When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.
  • Putin and Trump

    Here's a thought exercise: What do you suppose would happen if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decided to clarify remarks he reportedly made about Donald Trump during the election campaign?

Latest in Top Stories

  • Good for the soul

    The return of Say McIntosh, restaurateur
    • Jun 1, 2010
  • Robocalls are illegal

    Robocalls -- recorded messages sent to thousands of phone numbers -- are a fact of life in political campaigns. The public doesn't like them much, judging by the gripes about them, but campaign managers and politicians still believe in their utility.
    • May 31, 2010
  • Riverfest winds down

    With Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm, Steve Miller Band, Robert Cray, Ludacris and more performing.
    • May 30, 2010
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Jack Pearadin and Doug Nelsen found a 1.73-carat diamond after nearly a year of searching the park's field.

Event Calendar

« »


1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: From 'octoroon' to 'other'

    • Fantastic discussion - For my two cents if you a BIA Certificate of Degree of…

    • on January 21, 2017

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation