Dare I say they have some of the best freshly made pasta in the state? Yes! I’ll tell anyone who asks — Paul’s Pasta serves my favorite pasta dishes in Connecticut. This family-owned pasta shop is nearly as old as I am, and I have two decades of experience dining at Paul’s Pasta to share with you in this review.
If the tell-tale sign of a great restaurant is a crowded establishment with smiling customers eating with gusto, then Paul’s Pasta is definitely one of the best in the state. When coming during the height of mealtimes, Paul’s Pasta always has a waiting list, but this shouldn’t dissuade visitors — turnaround times are generally not substantial and the wait is always worth it. Reservations are not accepted.
Before even looking at a menu, your first decision will be whether to sit indoors, where you can watch the pasta being extruded from a massive, silver, hand-powered pasta maker, or outdoors, where you can relax as boats and submarines pass along the Thames River. Weather permitting, choose outdoors because a little breeze along with wine and a comforting meal is not to be taken for granted. The seats outdoors also provide a bit more breathing room, because Paul’s Pasta isn’t huge.
Upon sitting down at a table covered in ultra-casual green plaid, you’ll want to pause a moment or two to drool over all of their menu options, appreciating that everything comes in full and half portions. And those full portions certainly are generous — but go for it anyways because the reheated leftovers are just as good.
Now, let’s talk the menu. One of their most amazing dishes is their chicken alfredo, with the smoothest, creamiest alfredo sauce around. Two generous sized breasts of crispy fried chicken are gently displayed atop the heapings of sauce and pasta in the full portion; one hunk of crispy fried chicken is atop the half size. The crispy chicken even has melted, slightly oven-browned cheese on top, which just ups the comfort level of this dish. If you do see the bottom of your bowl, use a chunk of their garlicy, buttery bread to soak up the remnants of the creamy sauce.
When the chefs are feeling especially inspired, the chicken alfredo gets a flavorful makeover, transforming into buffalo chicken linguine. In this dish, the all-time favorite alfredo sauce gets amped up into a spicy, but not overly so, sauce that furthers my claim that Paul’s Pasta is a place you’ll want to dine at time and time again, especially since the specials do change.
The homemade lobster ravioli doused in cream sauce is another item on the menu worth writing home about. The chunks of lobster within the fresh ravioli are succulent and combine nicely with the thin pasta dough and thick, creamy white sauce.
Ever heard of spaghetti pie? Do I hear crickets? I’d never heard of spaghetti pie, nor had I tried it until a more recent trip to Paul’s Pasta. This massive dish — even the half portion is monstrous — is essentially spaghetti, cheese, and vegetables baked into a pie and topped with an avalanche of chunky, flavorful tomato sauce.
The lasagna is another massive dish perfect for leftovers. It features numerous delicate layers of pasta, ricotta, and beef — somehow always tasting better than when I make it at home. I’m thinking the fresh pasta and amazing sauce are the main contributors to the structure and flavor of this dish here.
Other special dishes also crop up depending on the season. A summertime favorite has to be the linguine with scallops and fresh veggies, like pea pods and broccoli, in a garlic butter sauce. This light favorite actually feels very healthy for an offering a Paul’s Pasta, where the menu staples are typically doused in cheese — just the way I like it.
Another really awesome feature of Paul’s Pasta is that they’ve got you covered for take-out. Not a great at home chef? Who cares, because if you are throwing a party, you can purchase their freshly made, uncooked pasta, ravioli, and tubs of their sauce to take home. Just toss together a garden salad to go along with it and you’ve got yourself a delicious meal that will please even the most discerning diners. In fact, Paul’s Pasta made at home for Christmas Eve has become a flavorful tradition for my family.
Do note that by the end of a busy evening, dishes like the spaghetti pie and lasagna do start to run out, so keep this in mind if your mouth is set on eating a specific dish. But don’t worry, because everything on the menu is good.
Though located off-the-beaten-path of popular tourist destinations in Connecticut, Paul’s Pasta is close enough to Mystic, Stonington, and New London to make it a dining destination for tourists, but more commonly, it is packed with locals seeking high-quality comfort foods. You really need to visit, but come hungry. So, do you think Paul’s Pasta serves the best homemade pasta in Connecticut?
Paul’s Pasta: 223 Thames Street, Groton, CT 06340