Pasta Perfection

The readers speak: Broders' Pasta Bar is an essential Minnesota restaurant

This place is the rarest of birds—a thriving, functional, multigenerational family business. Chef Rostance told me that his average line cook has been there for five years. (Because the work is so grueling they try not to schedule any of them more than three nights a week on that hectic dinner-service line.) The person who makes pasta has been there for 10 years.

"It never made sense to me in the restaurant business, the way we have this throwaway mentality about people," Chef Rostance said. "Most places get someone in there for a few months, and then they're gone. But your customers really benefit when you spend a little more on the back end, because when they order the number 11 they want number 11."

Speaking of that back end, no line cook works the line at Broders' Pasta Bar until he has trained for three months. No dish makes it onto the menu until it's been cooked by every line cook, Rostance told me, "at least a dozen times. We have wonderful employee meals here. Then we get feedback from all the servers. I'm not the kind of guy who comes out and says, 'This is what [the dish] is, like it or lump it.' I think you're always learning, and no one knows the customers' taste and reactions like the servers. I'm in love with the whole concept of local, seasonal, regional, rustic, simple things made with the very best ingredients. It's a fairly humble vision, but it makes people happy, which is what I'm interested in."

Somehow I'm not surprised when a little digging reveals that the most essential Minnesota restaurant comes out of those most essential old-Minnesota values: family, making people happy, value for the money, humility, and a fair day's work for a fair day's pay. Of course, there will be those of you who won't get your head around a place with wild boar on the menu being any sort of Minnesotan restaurant, much less an essential one. I didn't tell one of my friends the premise behind our visit until we were in the parking lot after dinner. "But that's not a Minnesotan restaurant!" she laughed with the special laughter that rejects something absurd. It was as if I had just told her that Broders' big stucco building was, in fact, an armadillo.

"Au contraire," I thought, as we parted. It may not be the essential Minnesota restaurant of our Lake Wobegone press releases, but it is an essential Minnesota restaurant nonetheless.

BRODERS' PASTA BAR

5000 Penn Ave. S., Minneapolis
612.925.9202 www.broders.com
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