By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Mar 10, 2021 at 11:01 AM

Each week we are featuring a new restaurant as part of “Cash Mob MKE,” an initiative created to give Milwaukee restaurants a boost during these tough times. Click here for a delectable repast of everything we’ve ordered (maybe inspiration for your next carry-out meal) 

The Pasta Tree
1503 N. Farwell Ave., (414) 276-8867

[More on today’s cash mob here]

Since 1982, The Pasta Tree has been an East Side staple, offering diners a cozy environs along with housemade breads, pastas (a rarity in the early years) and sauces. And this week, our aim is to give this long-time Milwaukee restaurant a much-needed boost with our one-day cash mob.

Head to The Pasta Tree and you’ll find a large slate of items from which to choose, including their namesake pastas, which range from simple preparations like their take on aglio olio and pesto to long simmered bolognese, all of which are generously sauced.

On our recent trip, we started off with smoked mozzarella in sugo, a dish featuring hand-breaded smoked mozzarella served with a rich tomato vegetable sauce ($11). 

Fried mozzarella from The Pasta TreeX

The cheese, which did carry a healthy bit of smoke flavor, was fried until crisp. Its richness was offset by the slight acidity of the well-seasoned sauce, which was filled with rustic pieces of sweet pepper, carrots and onions. The sauce was plentiful enough to enjoy with the cheese. We sopped up the extras with the housemade bread that accompanied our order (on this particular night it was a rustic loaf dappled with black olives).

Olive bread from The Pasta TreeX

Because simple is often best when it comes to fresh pasta, we opted for the aglio olio, which at The Pasta Tree is made with garlic sauteed in olive oil and seasoned with red pepper flakes ($16). We ordered ours with spinach pasta (you can choose from traditional egg, spinach or whole wheat, plus options like gluten-free pasta, tortellini or gnocchi for a slight upcharge).

Aglio olio from The Pasta TreeX

The garlic was mellow, but not bitter and it flavored the plentiful olive oil, which took on a sparse amount of heat from the chile flakes.

We were also eying up the homemade manicotti, since it’s a dish we seldom take the time to make at home. But we ended up getting our ricotta fix in the form of gorgonzola alfredo, a rich dish which we made even more indulgent by upgrading with ricotta gnocchi ($23).

Ricotta gnocchi with gorgonzola cream sauceX

The large hand-cut gnocchi was tender and pillowy with a fresh, neutral taste that allowed both the earthy sauteed mushrooms and creamy Italian gorgonzola, which enlivened the rich romano cream. And yes, we used more of our bread to sop up the generously applied sauce.

The entire meal was a fair match for the bottle of Sangiovese Tuscana, which was bold enough to take on the smoky cheese, garlic and gorgonzola ($36).

Of course, we also splurged on dessert, opting for a Pasta Tree classic: a slice of tiramisu featuring ladyfingers soaked in Kahlua, Rum and Espresso and layered with sweett mascarpone and dark chocolate ($10). 

Tiramisu from The Pasta TreeX

How to order

The Pasta Tree offers curbside pick-up and delivery as well as limited dine-in service. Orders can be placed online for pick-up or delivery. The Pasta Tree is open on Wednesday from 5 to 9 p.m.

If you choose to participate in our restaurant love bomb, bolster your support by sharing photos of your meal on social media using #CashMobMKE.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.