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Mainly Pasta 

Tastemakers

Ever been in a rush to prepare a fabulous dinner for someone, with visions of grandeur in your mind and a limited number of bills in your wallet? Without proper planning the pie-in-the-sky idea ends up falling flatter than a badly prepared souffle.

What you need is the guiding hand of an expert, someone on the outside who can connect the pipe dreams rattling around in your head.

One place that does just that is Mainly Pasta on Main Street in the Fan. They recently bumped their hours back to 7 p.m., which allows plenty of time even for the worst procrastinators to pick up the makings of a fresh meal, or just grab one that's already prepared and go.

Owner Kirsten Perkinson bought Mainly Pasta three years ago with her husband, Ted, after opening 821 Bakery Cafe and running it for years. Every day, they tirelessly hand-prepare the pastas and sauces, fresh ingredients handed over with helpful suggestions even the most hapless cook can work with. They also do ready-to-eat dishes for those with no hope in the kitchen.

Kirsten is always ready with a meal idea. In minutes, over the phone last week, she rattles off a dinner for two that includes pasta fagioli, a white bean and pasta soup, homemade pasta zavatelli with fennel sausage, broccoli with garlic and pine nuts, and tirimisu for dessert, all for $20-$25. Throw in a great midpriced wine like the Cavit Trentino merlot ($11), and you're still talking about an impressive dinner for two under $40. Can you beat it without making it yourself?

Mainly Pasta is open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Saturday, at 2227 W. Main St. They also do catering. 359-9304.

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