Except for the large banner hanging from the scaffolding outside Pasta Wafu, you would hardly know it was there. It is tucked in the long and narrow space behind the usually packed Ramen Setagaya, and the name on the door still reads "Oriental Spoon," it's former incarnation as a Japanese tapas restaurant, which itself only opened in July. But Pasta Wafu is all new and features Japanese style pasta, and sushi, and Italian food--all under one roof. Confusing? Yes. Tasty? Well, that too.
You can start of with antipasti, if you' like--there's a generous filet mignon appetizer for just $11 that our neighbors were devouring, or seared tuna with balsamic vinegar and arugula. Or, if you're hankering for your tuna with some wasabi as we were, the sumo tataki arrives with six generous slices of tuna in a sharp wasabi broth that'll go well with your bread basket. The sushi menu includes starters, salads, and myriad complex rolls, all for under $12; likewise, the most expensive single-entree item on the Italian-heavy menu also hovers around $12.
Gothamist and our dining companion opted for two of the Wafu Special Pastas, a subheader under an ambitious section of the menu titled "Pasta Revolution." The Spicy and Refreshing Seafood Juicy Sauce with Linguini ($12) arrived steaming hot, perfectly al dente noodles in a spicy seafood broth with shrimp, mussels, scallops, and vegetables soaking up the heat. Our dining companion's Shanghai Pasta with Linguini (yes, pasta with linguini) was a milder, less saucy broth made of chicken and fresh oysters, then sauteed with vegetables and tossed with al dente noodles. It was tasty and warming, but we ruled that it could use a bit more spice.
The restaurant is sleek--more spacious than you'd expect--and a sunroof suggests that there might be a garden out back and nice light during the day. If we could completely ignore the lack of continuity--the seemingly out of place rye bread in our bread basket, the mish mash of cuisines, the oddity of eating mozzerella and wasabi in the same meal--then we'd definitely come back at least for the pastas--tasty and original even if in no way authentic.
Pasta Wafu is located at 141 First Ave between 8th and 9th Streets; phone number unavailable.