Trattoria Neapolis – Pasadena

Trattoria Neapolis - Pasadena

The opening of Trattoria Neapolis early last week was easily the most exciting thing to happen on South Lake Avenue since I moved into town four years ago. Sandwiched between an Aaron Brothers and an Anthropologie, the restaurant brings a California-inflected Italian menu, as well as a solid beverage program, to a part of Pasadena best known for Pie ‘n Burger. God knows I adore Pie ‘n Burger, but a new dining option is always appreciated.

Trattoria Neapolis - Pasadena

Chef Bryant Wigger, most recently at the Four Seasons Los Angeles, makes almost everything from scratch including the pasta, bread, and salumi. The restaurant’s centerpiece and point of inspiration is a 7,000 pound Neapolitan wood-burning oven that can blister a pie in 90 seconds flat.

Trattoria Neapolis - Pasadena

While perusing the menu, I sipped a spicy Moscow mule. The Astronomer indulged in a tall glass of Golden Chaos.

Trattoria Neapolis - Pasadena

Our spritely waiter Richard suggested a pizza to start because the wood-burning oven was the reason why Trattoria Neapolis came to be. The funghi pie was calling my name, but alas, The Astronomer’s not much of a wild mushroom lover, so we settled on the Agnello ($15) instead.

This pizza came topped with crumbles of house-made lamb sausage, sweet red peppers, rapini, Pecorino, and orange zest. Aside from the slightly-too-bitter greens, we liked everything atop our pizza very much.

Trattoria Neapolis - Pasadena

The crust was dynamite as well, with a notable and pleasant chew. Oftentimes Neopolitan-style pizza crusts are over-charred in spots, but this one didn’t suffer one bit from uneven cooking.

Trattoria Neapolis - Pasadena

The Polipo ($8), wood-grilled baby octopus with crispy potato torta, Cerignola olives, and tomato oil, had lots of great flavors and textures going for it. Our only dislike was the potato base, which tasted like it had been deep-fried a few minutes too long.

Trattoria Neapolis - Pasadena

From the appetizer courses, we moved on to a parade of pastas. Our waiter was nice enough to course out the four dishes that we chose, two at a time,  so that we wouldn’t be overwhelmed. By the way, pastas are available in half and full-sized portions. We went with the former in order to sample a greater variety of dishes.

The Astronomer’s favorite pasta was the tomato and shrimp risotto topped with burrata and roasted eggplant. He found it creamy, well balanced, and a pleasure to eat. Best of all, the shrimp were nice and snappy—not overcooked in the least bit.

Trattoria Neapolis - Pasadena

My favorite noodle of the night was the Aragosta ($19), bucatini with Maine lobster, Sweet 100 tomatoes, Calabrian chili, and lobster sauce. The noodles’ texture couldn’t be beat, while the lobster meat was sweet as can be.

Trattoria Neapolis - Pasadena

The roast garlic gnocchi was packed with tender shards of smoked pork shoulder, artichoke, and asparagus ribbons in a light broth ($9). The abundance of pork made it the star of the dish, while the gnocchi seemed to play second fiddle. Still, the bites of gnocchi that I managed to dig out were light and appealing.

Trattoria Neapolis - Pasadena

Our final pasta dish this evening was the rigatoni with short rib Bolognese, pancetta, and Grana Padano ($10). Both the house-made pasta and the sauce were solid, if not particularly memorable.

Trattoria Neapolis - Pasadena

We finished up with an interesting take on tiramisu ($9) composed of house-made ladyfingers soaked in amaretto and peach liquor and layered with mascarpone cream, peaches, and caramel. While The Astronomer desired a moister tiramisu, I found it nice the way it was.

Our dinner was most satisfactory considering that we visited Trattoria Neapolis on its second night of service. While the pastas were mostly good, it was the pizza that really made the night for me, especially Chef Wigger’s perfectly stretchy and spotted crust. You bet your boots The Astronomer and I are going to be stopping by for a slice (and a cocktail) on the regular.

Trattoria Neapolis
336 South Lake Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91101
Phone: 626-792-3000

One year ago: Eleven Madison Park – New York City
Two years ago: Restaurante L’estimat – Valencia
Three years ago: Hawaiian Style Cafe – Waimea
Four years ago: Vegetation Profile: Kalamansi
Five years ago: Jasmine Seafood Restaurant – San Diego

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8 Responses to “Trattoria Neapolis – Pasadena”

  • nice…that bucatini has my name on it!

  • Can’t wait to try it! Have you been to Abricott yet? Would love to hear your take on it…been meaning to try it as well.
    Thanks for all your delicious pics and tastings! Your blog is one of my absolute faces!

  • Tama – I haven’t been to Abricott yet, but I really like its sister restaurant Daisy Mint. And thank you for the kind words 🙂

  • That bucatini looks so tempting. Also love the even char on the pizza. Glad you have a new place to go on your regular Pasadena rotation.

  • i FINALLY tried Pie n’ Burger a few weeks back, but didn’t see this spot! looks good and that peach tiramisu i WANT!

  • Going next week,and now I’m really excited! My husband is going to frrrreak when he eats the peach tiramisu.

  • We went last night. We were seated upstairs, which I can’t decide was good or bad. The table next to us was a large party of local “Italians” that were making sure everyone knew they were important. Anyways, drinks were slow to arrive but AWESOME once enjoyed. The smoked chicken pizza was super yummy. And our entrees were great. The peach Tiramisu was really, really good. I could tell it was freshly prepared. Our server was a bit shy, but efficient enough. We look forward to another meal.

  • The food was crap. Cold linquine and three clams?

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