The term “Chipotle-ization” has become synonymous in the food world for any fast-casual restaurant that features an assembly line method for producing a diner’s order. I believe Subway and Henry Ford might take umbrage with the term, but that’s an argument for another day. This technique has been used to assemble everything from burritos and pizzas to poke and salads. The one cuisine I have not heard of until this point is pasta.

This is where Project Pasta comes into the picture, as they’re taking the assembly line and giving it an Italian twist. I will admit that when I first heard about this I did a bit of an eye roll. However, I always try to keep an open mind and, after our visit, I must say my cohorts and I walked away very impressed. The statement, “I’ll definitely be back” was uttered several times. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning of the line, shall we?

As with all these establishments, there are hard decisions to be made before one can enjoy their repast: such as what type of pasta (spaghetti, farfalle or penne): which sauce (marinara, pesto or Alfredo); what sorts of toppings (11 different veggies) and, most important, what type of meat (meatballs, chicken, sausage and bacon are all available) will be involved. Of course, for those that are indecisive, Project Pasta does have preset house combos available.

My associates weren’t in the mood for making decisions, as they both settled on the Great White ($10) preset, which comes with a combo of Alfredo and pesto sauce, penne, spinach, mushrooms and chicken. My custom order featured penne, marinara, sausage, beef meatballs, bacon and a multitude of veggies ($11).

After it’s ordered, the concoction is cooked up in a frying pan and whipped into one homogenous amalgamation. Their sauces might be their strongest attribute. The marinara was smooth, a bit herby and had that slight sweetness a good traditional tomato sauce needs. I also stole a bite, or two, of my colleague’s white pesto and it too was deliciously creamy and well-flavored. The veggies were all fresh, and—while all the meats were good—the edge goes to the sausage as it had a nice, subtle smokiness to it. We all agreed that adding shrimp to the menu would go a long way toward pasta perfection.

The Chipotle-zation of America isn’t slowing down any time soon, but if the future holds more establishments like Project Pasta, count me in for the revolution.

Project Pasta
991 Saratoga Ave Ste 110, San Jose.