Pasta Wiz is officially open! Come by for a dish of our delicious, healthy pasta, smoothies, salads, and crepes. See our menu at http://pastawiz.com & find us on Seamless! #nycfood #nycfoodie #newyorkcity #brooklynfoodie #healthyfood #healthynyc #eatgreen #eatclean #organicfood #organicbrooklyn #organicpasta #pastawiz #whereiate #whattoeat #wheretoeat #newrestaurant
On Sunday evening, I walked through the wooden doors of the restaurant hungry and eager for dinner and was immediately met with a line made up of moms and dads with their excited kids and fellow adult HP fanatics wrapped in Gryffindor scarves and other Hogwarts regalia. To my surprise, when I made it to the front of the line, I wasn't met by a barkeep dressed in wizard's robe but instead I found an iPad mounted on a stand ready to take my order. Since wizard folk have no need for technology, I felt like this was a little off-theme but decided the computers were all part of the restaurant's mission for fast service.
The create-your-own pasta menu offered four base pasta options: spaghetti, fettuccine, fusilli, and radiatori. There are also gluten-free and vegan options and a number of vegetables, proteins, and signature sauces to add in the mix. I chose spaghetti with shrimp, mushrooms, and the creamy tomato sauce and added a Caesar Salad and the Pasta Wiz crêpe for dessert. I then scooted down the line to watch my pasta being made.
The ambiance, at this point, had me feeling more like I was standing at the pasta station in a college cafeteria and less like I was feasting in the Great Hall at Hogwarts, and I was taken even more out of Harry's world by the three people beside me complaining to the chefs about their incorrect orders. Fortunately, I was pulled back in when I heard my name being called. Just as Harry followed the Basilisk's hisses in the Chamber of Secrets, I followed the voice and found a man — not Tom Riddle, don't worry — standing in the dining area holding my hot crêpe. I took it and found a table among crystal balls, suits of armor, and other artifacts that might have been found at Hogwarts but weren't specific references to the series.
After finishing my second and third courses, I went to stand by the salad bar only to find that I was still fifth in line to get my order. I stood behind two good-natured Brooklyn dads who started talking to me about how unorganized the place was, but they didn't seem to be angry and their kids, who sat at their own table nearby, still seemed to be having a ball. When I finally reached the front of the gathering around the salad bar, I found myself face to face with the Sorting Hat, the one clear allusion to my favorite fantasy series. I smiled and started to think maybe the brand new restaurant was simply still working on getting all the kinks worked out.
As a Harry Potter purist, I'm tempted to feel shortchanged by this place that all the buzz led me to believe would have an HP theme. Did the owners liken the boy wizard's name to their restaurant simply to get publicity? They didn't serve butterbeer — or alcohol of any kind — and none of the workers were dressed as characters from the series, so it didn't quite make sense that everyone had been talking about this Harry Potter restaurant all week. Still, it's hard out there for new restaurants, so I understand the desire to stand out. With Harry's many devoted fans, selling yourself as a Harry Potter-anything is one sure-fire way to do that.
In the restaurant's defense, its website doesn't seem to explicitly state that it's Harry Potter-themed. Instead, it says, "While the interior of the Pasta Wiz flagship resembles a wizard’s enchanted lair, the real magic shines through in the prep time of their dishes: approximately 3 minutes." In a recent interview with Gothamist, Pasta Wiz's owner, Alex Dimitrov, explained, "We decided Pasta Wiz, it's like a wizard magical place, so we've made it Harry Potter-style. We decorated in a Harry Potter-style." Perhaps the owner was just using Harry Potter, our generation's most iconic story of wizardry, as a means to communicate the aesthetic he was going for and the internet, as per usual, just sort of ran with it.
Really, what the restaurant achieved by associating itself — inadvertently or not — with the series was to make me absolutely determined to enjoy myself and hope desperately that it has some success and sticks around long enough to smooth out the bumps. After everything, having even a feeble escape into the Wizarding World just around the corner from my muggle dwelling is still a dream come true.