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What two things are guaranteed to make every Syracuse University student drool? Pastabilities’ fresh, warm bread and hot tomato oil dipping sauce. Sold all over Syracuse and Central New York, the restaurant’s famous bread and dipping sauce is the perfect way to start a meal, especially if you’re eating in the warm, inviting, and usually hopping, dining room of Pastabilities.

When to Go: Pastabilities, an Italian-American venue, is one of Syracuse’s favorite restaurants.  Be warned: on a Friday or Saturday night, the place will be jam-packed. If you want to get a table in less than 30 minutes, go early on a weekend night. During the week, the atmosphere is more relaxed. Pastabilities serves lunch on weekdays, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Dinner hours are Sunday-Tuesda, 5 p.m.-9 p.m., and Wednesday-Saturday 5 p.m.-10 p.m. The restaurant takes reservations only for groups of seven or more. Bottom Line: Take advantage of the wait to explore the shops in Armory Square, or pull up a stool to the Pastabilities bar while you wait.

On Tap: The room-length, gleaming wooden bar is stocked with everything to mix a quality cocktail. The restaurant also features a decent wine list and a variety of microbrews, domestic and imported bottled beers, and beers on draft. Don’t look for any happy-hour deals though; cocktails run around $9 apiece, beer is $3-$4 a bottle or a pint, and a bottle of wine costs anywhere from $20-$125. Bottom Line: That huge bar has a great selection, but is a little pricey for the average student budget ... unless you feel like splurging.

Blue Plate Special: You really can’t go wrong here, but the pasta dishes are the obvious highlights of the menu. Homemade pastas, sauces, and your choice of adding a meat, vegetable, or seafood to the dish makes for a memorable and authentically Italian meal. You can even order homemade pasta topped with spicy hot tomato oil if you didn’t get enough of it during appetizers.  Pasta dishes, including a creamy carbonara and outstanding sausage and littleneck clam puttanesca, range from $8.25 to $17. Specials such as braised halibut Provencal or a roasted lamb shank cost $19 to $26. Pasta dishes do not come with sides. Salads are an extra $5.75 to $8, depending on what kind you order. Bottom Line: Eat pasta!

The Scene: It’s more Italian-style city bistro than cozy Italian kitchen. The restaurant is long, narrow, and divided into three main sections. The front room is filled with small, four-person tables and looks out onto Franklin Street. The entryway leading to the back room is lined on the left with the bar and liquor selection, and on the right with wooden booths. Space is tight but the crowds of people make for a pleasant, out-on-the-town ambience. Bottom Line: Starting your Saturday night downtown classy but casual? Head to Pastabilities.

The Crew: The wait staff is professional and polite, but if you’re feeling chatty you’ll have better luck striking up a conversation with the bartender. Pastabilities is a large establishment, and the employees don’t always have a lot of extra time for chitchat. Bottom Line: Pleasant, but you might not become best buds and head to the bars together after their shifts end. 

The Crowd: Pastabilities is popular with students, especially when their parents are in town, but the main crowd in Pastabilities is the locals. Professional men and women of all ages, families, and married couples all enjoy the sophisticated but fun atmosphere of Pastabilities. Bottom Line: Everyone likes pasta. 

The Deets: Pastabilities is right at the heart of Armory Square at 311 Franklin St. It’s wheelchair accessible and takes cash or credit cards. While it's not exactly your Italian mama’s kitchen hearth, the entrees are good, reasonably affordable, and complemented by a great bar and atmosphere. Bottom Line: Bring your parents, your friends, your classmates, or even professors and enjoy!

by Christine Mehta


311 S Franklin St.
Syracuse, NY 13202
(315) 474-1153

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