Pasta Mia

March 2004 Dirt Cheap Eats

At least 30 minutes before this small trattoria opens at 6:30 for dinner, people line up on the sidewalk to get a seat. There is no list. You just wait until others get up from the red-and-white checked tables.

Expect servers to bring out crusty bread and olive oil for dipping. A good way to start is by splitting a platter of mixed greens ($5). You don't have to tiptoe around the menu–all main dishes are $10 to $13, and portions are huge. The tortellini rosa, tomato cream over tender cheese pasta pockets, is one favorite. We also liked the penne pasta smothered in tomato sauce with a pile of pesto at the center. The mixture is intriguing and delicious.