Boulud Sud’s Happy Pasta Hour Is About Both Food and Fun
Photo by Georgina Salter
Boulud Sud, Daniel Boulud’s Mediterrean gift to the Upper West Side, isn’t just for dinner across from Lincoln Center anymore. Under the direction of Chef and Culinary Director Travis Swikard, the restaurant invented a “Happy Pasta Hour”. Nightly from 9 PM Sunday through Thursday and from 10 PM Fridays and Saturdays, the Bar and Lounge Area turns into the place for local residents to drop by and experience the restaurant’s superb pasta offerings. Priced at half of what they are in the restaurant itself, they’re a salute to Italy and Boulud Sud’s talented Chef.
Preternaturally young-looking, as befits someone who knew he wanted to be a chef at age 4, Travis Swikard has been at Boulud Sud since it opened 7 years ago. Since then, he has risen from Executive Sous Chef to Executive Chef to Culinary Director of both Boulud Sud and neighboring Bar Boulud. Swikard is passionate about pasta. When he was 18, going to college and working in San Diego, his Chef/Boss recommended Paul Bertolli’s “Cooking by Hand”. He credits Bertolli, one of the original chefs at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, with his fascination with pasta. And it shows. His kitchen has mastered the art of pasta making, whether in sheets for his masterful take on Stracci, Linguine, Agnolotti and Raviolis. They’ve also conquered the making of Rigatoni. Four pastas are featured at Happy Pasta Hour plus a daily special which changes with the season. Most recently this was a short-rib ravioli with ribbons of Spring Asparagus atop.
The pastas are sold in two portion sizes: Appetizer and Main Course. The Appetizer size is perfect for sharing so a couple can sample two or three –or all the pastas. Don’t expect pasta you could find anywhere else. Starting with fresh-ground local and Italian flour, they’re made with organic eggs from Alderfer Farm, a 5th generation family farm in Southeastern Pennsylvania. And don’t expect any red sauce pastas on Boulud’s list. Instead, choose from Lemon Saffron Linquine with Seppia Puntarella, Grated bottarga and garlic bread crumbs. A new menu item is Swikard’s salute to spring: Hand-cut Stracci features Peektoe Crab, Burrata, Fava Beans and Sorrel. Vegetarians will be pleased to find Potato and Artichoke stuffed Agnolotti with foraged mushrooms in a Spring Onion-Parmesan Broth. Finally, there’s the chef’s take on Rigatoni alla Carbonara featuring House-made Pancetta, Snow Peas and Black Pepper.
Chef Swikard describes Boulud Sud as being about “elegant and inspired Mediterranean cuisine. It’s about taste, texture and aroma first and foremost, but also about fun”. Judging from the crowd, sipping cocktails from the extensive cocktail menu or a glass of wine from the superb Wine by the Glass list, Happy Pasta Hour is a great success in both the Food and Fun categories.
Boulud Sud. 20 West 64th St. Between Broadway and Central Park West. NYC 10023. Tel: (212) 595 1313