by David Zindell
Day after day, meal after meal for 21 years, Pasta Jay’s has drawn throngs of people hungry for some good Italian food to its attractive setting in Boulder’s West End, just off the Pearl Street Mall. If it’s substantial portions and taste you want, you’ll get plenty of both here.
You have to like garlic, though. You’ll smell its pungence thickening the air as soon as you walk into this colorful restaurant, with its red-and-white-checkered tablecloths. Garlic forms the predominant flavor of any dish made with red sauce — and most other dishes, as well.
The 15 pizzas each come in small, medium and large. They range in price from the $10.99 small Josephina, with Italian sausage and roasted red bell peppers, to the large Jay’s Roman Orgy for $16.99.
Sauces range from pesto to Alfredo to basic red. Toppings include arugula, pancetta, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, shrimp and other toothsome ingredients. You can choose one of Jay’s combinations or build your own pie.
Not surprisingly, a lot of people come here for the pasta dishes, such as the Baked Lorenzo: linguini and crumbled sausage cooked in a tomato cream sauce, for $10.99. The sumptuous Shrimp Giacamo, simmered with sun-dried tomatoes in a Gorgonzola cream sauce, costs $15.50.
Owner Jay Elowsky once worked in his Uncle Sonny’s pizzeria in San Clemente, Calif. There he learned to prepare family recipes passed down from his great-aunt, “Mama Genovese.” He named the Stuffed Chicken Genovese in her honor, and most anyone ordering this delicious dish of chicken breast filled with sausage, roasted red peppers, Provolone cheese and mushrooms — all baked in a rich tomato and basil sauce — will come away delightfully stuffed. This entrée goes for $14.99, $4 more than the homemade manicotti, and $2 less than the Tortellone Alfredo with shrimp.
Pasta Jay’s serves specials, from World Famous Monday Night Spaghetti Night to Sunday’s Plati’s Steak Bracciole. Order one of these dishes, or anything else you’d like, and if it’s warm enough, try to sit at one of the tables outside. It may be the best place in Boulder to people-watch while drinking wine and eating some hearty and savory food.