Friday, August 9, 2019

Park Street Deli Veggie Alfredo Pasta (Aldi)

Behind this plain product name is an unexpected explosion of (too much?) flavor.
I grabbed this on a recent shopping trip, expecting to serve it to myself on one of those many nights my wife works, and I’m too helpless to do anything else—much to my surprise, we ended up eating it together for dinner that very same night I brought it home.

As the title of the product insinuates, this one is a fettuccine alfredo-style pasta dish, only with penne instead of fettuccine noodles, and various vegetables (mainly broccoli and red pepper) replacing any possible meat inclusions. I like me some meat, but I also like me some vegetables, so I was a little excited to give this a shot. What I wasn’t excited about was the $8 price tag, which seems a little high for such a (seemingly) small amount of pasta, but hey, sometimes you just have to live a little.

An unappetizing view of a half-eaten container.
Holy shit, my taste buds were not expecting that first bite: it’s a stunner. I feel like I can’t even properly explain this dish in flavor terms, because it’s so rich that it overwhelms the senses; it doesn’t quite taste like a standard alfredo, but you can definitely taste alfredo buried in there somewhere, while the vegetables actually provide more to the flavor of the dish, than just being there for a splash of color. I think my wife put it best when she compared this to the taste of a vegetable lasagna…they are quite similar, although this has the benefit of being coated in alfredo sauce!

The sauce is nice and thick, and definitely several notches above the typical “frozen TV dinner” sauce (though, granted, this one is refrigerated), coating each noodle with an abundance of sauce that doesn’t fall off when you go to pick it up or take a bite. There’s a disgusting(ly good) amount of cheese in here, too, with long strings of the stuff clinging desperately to each forkful right after you take it out of the oven, which also makes things appealing from a visual standpoint, too.

When all is said and done, this is an overwhelming dish, rich as all hell, yet so flavorful that you don’t want to put it down. Eventually, though, I had to once the mere thought of another bite started to make my stomach churn; not at all because it was gross, but simply because it’s so creamy and decadent and full of unhealthy stuff that a little bit goes a very long way. I can’t remember another time that I felt like my taste buds were “exhausted” after eating something, but that’s how this made me feel…there’s just so much going on that you inevitably succumb to it, no matter how hungry you are going in. And that $8 price tag certainly didn’t seem as bad when my wife and I had some for dinner, and there was still enough for me to take to work the next day.

I definitely wouldn't call it a "gourmet" dish, per se, but it's at least on par with a good chain restaurant pasta (which might be an oxymoron), and for a fraction of the price.

Overall: 7/10. This one is really hard for me to put into words, but Park Street Deli’s plainly-named Veggie Alfredo Pasta is an overwhelmingly rich dish, with a literal explosion of flavor that I was not expecting. It doesn’t taste like a standard alfredo, but I also can’t explain exactly what it does taste like, so I can be of no help here...it's one of those things you'll just have to experience for yourself. The vegetables (broccoli and red peppers) are well-cooked and provide actual flavor to the dish, rather than just being there for extra color or texture purposes. At $7.99, this dish certainly isn’t for everyone budgetwise, but with a quick prep time (it can be microwaved in 5 minutes), and more flavor than most pre-made mass-produced dishes, this is a welcome change from the normal alfredo. Just be prepared to test your limits, because a little bit of this goes a very long way.

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