There is nothing but flour and egg yolks in the pasta dough at Weights + Measures. "That's it. No water, no salt," says chef-owner Richard Kaplan.
And against conventional wisdom, they don't even let the dough rest. "Why are we complicating something so simple?" sous-chef and pasta maven Fernando Rios remembers thinking. "I think food should be like that."
"Like that" means more simple than the food he cut his teeth crafting at Da Marco, though Rios credits that restaurant's owner, Marco Wiles, with taking him from pastry chef to pasta and pizza specialist. When Houstonia visited last week, he was stuffing ravioli while a new trainee was rolling fettuccine ultra-fine.
"That basic philosophy carries through the restaurant," Kaplan continues. "We want to do fresh food that's put onto the table hot and a menu that sounds complicated but isn't." He says that anywhere in the world serving what he calls "elevated cuisine" is focused on ingredients and long-honed technique, not bells and whistles.
Tiny changes, then, can make a big difference. Kaplan has found a new local egg purveyor whose ova have deep orange yolks. "It changed the color and flavor of the pasta a bit," he says. For the better. And with that change comes another: This week Weights + Measures debuts a new and larger pasta menu.
Those include the above tortelloni, packed full of pulled lamb, covered in a confetti of celeriac and carrot and dressed in roasted tomato marinara butter. You'll notice there isn't much of the sauce on the plate. Kaplan says that one lesson he's learned eating in Rome is that pastas at the best restaurants are only lightly coated in sauce, just enough for an impact. Other new pasta dishes include ravioli filled with Gorgonzola dolce with caramelized apples in sage butter, potato gnocchi with braised veal cheek and fried quail egg with horseradish and swordfish and house pancetta over Israeli couscous, the only pasta not made in-house.
The other new dishes aren't bad, either. We have a serious crush on the oven-braised Spanish rabbit over creamy truffle polenta with a side of baby carrots. Of course.