It’s the eighth dinner service at Mastrantos, the newest Heights restaurant at 927 Studewood St. specializing in shareworthy global cuisine, and co-owner Xavier Godoy keeps apologizing for leaving the table. On this night, the place is humming, so Godoy, a 30-something Venezuelan man with an impressively thick blonde beard, is darting from one place to another. He greets guests, works with servers, and chats with his cooks.
And every few minutes he returns. “I’m so sorry,” he says, as I eat through the layered snapper crudo bathing in a leche de tigre that’s at once briny and gingery.
I'm enjoying the honesty, and I love the desire that Godoy and his wife Mari have to impress and showcase their vision. Along with executive chef Tony Castillo (formerly of Tiny Boxwoods), the couple exhibits a fresh excitement. The pasta, specifically, showcases this enthusiasm.
The sweet purple agnolotti is filled with an exhilarating pop of gorgonzola and sweet potato and set in a decadent sage butter sauce. This soul-warming dish colored with beet juice is a nod to the mountainous Piedmont region of Italy, and it’s a stunner.
Mastrantos has two other pasta dishes on offer—a rustic, Sunday-perfect ragu bolognese and a wild squid ink linguine in coconut curry—and will be adding more shortly. The shareable plates include baby carrots over carrot hummus, salty beets with a gorgonzola dolce, and that delicious crudo, while grilled salmon and espresso-rubbed tri-tip are on the entree list.
The restaurant’s dough lab isn’t just for pasta, either, as it has a breakfast service highlighted by homemade croissants and cachitos (Venezuelan kolaches), plus bowls, arepas, and toasts.
A square bar greets guests immediately; on one side is a row of high-top seats, and on the other side is a long booth with tables cozily close together. Mastrantos stresses transparency, which is why you can view just about everything the staff is doing. The vibe is informal but smart, fine for families and dates, an exciting neighborhood spot eager to be a friend. Just like the Godoys.