After opening his second location, the proprietor of Hummus Fresh found he had far more floor space than his mostly take-out traffic warranted. Rather than moving to smaller digs, he bifurcated the room with a partition—creating a restaurant within a restaurant—and thus began the aptly named Just Ravioli, opened in March.
There is a self-serve row of pitchers filled with organic iced teas, and my wife enjoyed her selection while we discussed what to order. The menu is a single-page list of housemade ravioli and sauces. You pick your pasta and pair it with a sauce. We started with breaded, deep-fried jalapeno and cheese ravioli ($5) with a bowl of basic marinara for dipping. Served piping hot and tossed in Parmesan, they were nicely spicy and had a good crunch. There were more than enough to share. The dish is also available with plain cheese or meat filling.
Although the menu isn’t large, there is plenty to work with in mixing and matching flavors. We tried a plate of artichoke cheese ravioli ($12.99) with kale pesto sauce. A bite of the veggie pasta sans sauce was pretty mild. I could barely taste the artichoke. Or maybe I was distracted by the really outstanding use of oh-so-trendy kale. The consistency was reminiscent of classic cooked greens, combined with olive oil, herbs and plenty of garlic. There was so much of the fabulous sauce I used it to finish off the last of the deep-fried ravioli.
Seafood ravioli ($13.99) with alfredo sauce arrived next. The dish featured a plate of four sizeable half moons—each as big as a turnover—stuffed with a minced blend of fish, topped with plenty of sauce and Italian parsley. The sauce was perfect, a creamy blend of cheese and garlic that coated each bite with simple decadence. If you can’t tell, I really enjoyed this one.
At this point, the chef asked if we’d like to try a couple of his favorite creations. We agreed right away. Special plates tell a lot about a chef’s approach to building flavors. A plate of “eggplant sliders” ($13.99) featured a row of thick Italian eggplant slices, topped by large cauliflower ravioli and spicy marinara sauce and fresh basil and parsley. The skin on the eggplant slices was a little tough to cut, but the flesh of the plant was cooked through. It’s just the nature of the beast. As with our first two plates, the sauce was the real star of the dish.
A plate of spinach and meat ravioli ($12.99) covered in a creamy pesto sauce, topped with sauteed peppers and onions, finished with a few florets of roasted cauliflower was better. Together, the spicy meat mixture and sauce were delicious, though I wish there’d been more than just a few bits of pepper and onion. The cauliflower was roasted to the point of being crisp and crunchy—nearly dehydrated—but its slightly bitter earthiness actually worked well with the rest of the plate.
By this point, we were pretty full, but we just had to try the lone dessert on the menu—deep-fried chocolate and cheese ravioli ($5) covered in whipped cream, then drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauces. The crunchy bites were still warm, and the filling of ricotta, mascarpone and cocoa was smooth and semi-sweet. The sauces provided most of the sugar, and the effect was a not-too-sweet meal topper that even a non-dessert eater might enjoy.