A Delicious Vision: there’s a turbo bistro in town
Trying new restaurants is always fun for me. Although, since I have several favorites, deciding to try a new place has become more challenging. Albuquerque, NM is a real restaurant town. I think there are more per capita here than many other comparable cities.
The gifted English novelist Virginia Woolf, in “A Room of One’s Own” wrote, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” I wholeheartedly agree. Do we not owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to dedicated cooks, chefs and restaurateurs everywhere?
This week-end while in town, we decided to try a new spot that recently opened. The concept was appealing, and I love Italian. Two local brothers decided to expand on their success. Owners of the wildly popular Saggios, a winner of the “Best Of” for their pizza, they decided to open another place because they have such a high demand for take-out. Given that Saggios is a nice, sit-down place, they came up with the concept of a “turbo-bistro.” They opened Fastinos, both sit-down and take-out where one can get “bistro quality food really, really fast.” Their tag line is, “Fresh Fast Food.”
Dining in for our first visit, even approaching the restaurant was a kick. Signature murals of stunning color, depth and detail leap into view as one approaches. Inside, oldies music was playing (always a good sign from my perspective!), and the décor was reminiscent of favorite memories growing up. A wacky, casual, creative combination of Happy Days meets the Jetsons. It was a comfortable setting with healthy hanging plants, bright colors, an ultra modern ceiling fan, and old world cuisine. The pasta, with chicken and pesto, was sumptuous and surprisingly generous; the meatball stuffed baguette was just right, the salad was very fresh and nicely appointed, and the lemon cheesecake with blueberries was yummy and refreshing. A really nice feature is you can build your own pasta dish (as well as pizza).
But what I enjoyed almost as much as the meal was the story. Two local guys with a successful enterprise who turn their experience of heavy take-out traffic into a new concept. I think it is really neat that they not only have an eye for expansion, but they have a vision. Fresh fast food. And during the time we sat there, a steady stream of folks came in for to-go orders. Clearly many were feeding a family or entertaining company, judging by the sizes of the bags that were being carried out the door.
I believe in supporting local businesses. Here’s to dining out often and well. Even when it needs to be fast it ought to be good. It will be interesting to follow these two brothers’ progress. There are plans in the works to open another Fastinos Fresh Fast Food soon. And I will be curious to see if the term “turbo bistro” finds its way into mainstream culinary lingo. Whatever one chooses to call it, I know I’ll be back. And these guys make fast food not only fresh, but healthy and delicious. Given our dire economic times, it is heartening to see a tasty business that is expanding, and a couple of local entrepreneurs who seem to be having lots of fun.
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