We are so accustomed to chain restaurants here on the south side of Atlanta, that discovering a family owned and operated established eatery on the McDonough Square can take you by surprise. I had heard about Pasta Max, the little Italian place on the corner of the square on Griffin Street, but had never ventured over there. Now don’t get me wrong, I love anything with a noodle in it, but some how I’d never gone in to dine until recently.
Pasta Max is located at 50 Griffin Street on the Square in McDonough. Its a quaint, one room restaurant with charming brick walls and a very romantic, warm atmosphere. I met with the owner and operator Doug Zitz to talk about the restaurant and sample some of the amazing dishes he offers.
Doug prepares all his menu items in house and proudly gives his wife Barbara the interior design credit for the restaurant. Pasta Max started in Stockbridge at a location off Highway 138 in 1994 and moved to it’s current location on the square 5 years ago. With their faithful fan base of customers, Pasta Max has grown in reputation and by word of mouth to an eatery so popular that most evenings the dining room is full and patrons are happy to wait their turn for a table.
Let’s talk pasta! Doug treated me to several of the restaurant’s favorite dishes. Let me just say, Pasta Max has a new fan. My server for the evening was Carey Tyson and he did an extremely good job of recommending wines that would compliment all these amazing recipes. Here’s a run down of the amazing meal he served me.
All tables are served warm garlic rolls that are sprinkled with fresh parmesan. If you are on a date and planning on a goodnight kiss, have some mints in your pocket. These rolls are too good to forgo!
Brushetta - Vine ripe tomatoes, garlic, basil, fresh mozzarella on grilled focaccia bread.
Delightfully crisp and light. Most brushettas are heavy and oily, but Pasta Max’s version is a nice starter that wasn’t too filling.
Calamari - Italian style - buttermilk fried calamari, roasted peppers and tomato sauce.
The roasted sauteed peppers served with this calamari is what set the taste of this appetizer apart from the usual calamari. It gave it a unique and rich taste without being over powering. The calamari tasted fresh, not chewy. The breading is light and the tomato sauce is mild. All that together made for a great combination of flavors.
Carey’s wine suggestion for these two starters was a glass of Foghead Pinot Noir. A perfectly light and fruity blend for both dishes.
Spring Mix Salad - This light salad is served with a balsamic vinegar dressing that is made in house. The dressing is so good they need to bottle it and sell it! It has a light, sweet flavor to it.
Caesar Salad - With herbed croutons and grated parmigiana.
You can also add chicken to this salad and make it a main course.
For the next two entrees Carey suggested a glass of Red Santi. Another great suggestion!
Agnolotti - With prosciutto, spinach, ricotta and parmigiana, served with three suaces: herbed tomato, pesto, and parmigiana cream.
This dish is made to look like the Italian national flag. With three distinctive tastes on one plate, this is an absolute must try when you go into Pasta Max next time.
Lasagna - With Layers of steamed and grilled vegetables, roasted peppers and herbed tomato sauce.
This is certainly not your typical Stoffers style quick lasagna we all throw in the oven for a quick meal. Every bite of this dish melts in your mouth. Doug told me this was a customer favorite and I completely understand why. This dish taste like time and much love goes into every serving.
The next two entrees were served with a glass of Sterling Chardonnay VS. Perfectly suited for lighter pasta and seafood.
Black Pepper Pappardelle - With herb grilled chicken, mushrooms, leeks, herbs and cream.
This is Doug’s favorite dish on the menu. It is a rich wide flat ribbon pasta with an extraordinary flavor. The pasta and the cream alone would be an excellent dish, but coupled with the flavors of the chicken, mushroom and leeks and it is out of this world good. Take Doug’s suggestion and try this dish. You won’t regret it!
Angel Hair with Shrimp and Scallops - Shrimp and scallops served over angel hair pasta in a citrus butter sauce with grilled vegetables.
I saved the best for last! This was my favorite dish of the night. The scallops were seared to perfection, the shrimp was plump and tender and the sauce made my taste buds dance with every bite. I honestly did not want to stop eating this selection.
A trio of Italian Sweets - A cream filled canoli, Chocolate Chip Cheesecake, Tiramisu.
Pasta Max has an in house German coffee maker that tastes amazing with any of the above desserts.
So, instead of checking off the list of chain restaurants in our area when trying to decide where to go for dinner or that next date, do yourself a favor and drive to the McDonough Square and pull up to a table at Pasta Max. Doug and his staff know how to treat you like the special local you are!
Questo cibo e molto buono!!
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