Food Critic Review: Kappasta
What is the most competitive food city in the world? Some may say New York. Others might say Rome or perhaps Paris. Yet in the sleepy suburb of Evanston, Illinois, lies a foodie scene more viciously cutthroat than A&O’s application process.
Of course, I’m talking about the sorority philanthropy event season.
In years past, I had sampled the delectable peach cobbler at Pi Phi A La Mode, and suckled down some juicy chicken at Tri Delta: Lord of The Wings. Yet in my final year at Northwestern, I decided to head off the beaten path, to the newly opened Italian eatery Kappasta, a combination of “kaput,” and “pasta,” as in, “this pasta will soon be kaput because you eat it so fast!” The family-owned business is operated by a group of sisters, a tight-knit group bringing their Westchester spin on a Tuscan classic. They’d built up a reputation as the most exclusive and secretive food club in town. But was their bark worse than their bite?
The first hiccup of the evening came as I arrived, as the sisters seemed perplexed to find me wanting a table, given that I was not currently hooking up any of the sisters. They continued to ask “who I knew there.” I nervously replied, “Katie?” Luckily that was enough for them to let me in. I knew the restaurant was elite, but I had no idea that even I would barely make it inside.
The intriguing décor of the eatery was the first thing I noticed. The neo-post-modern plaster white walls, the faux-wooden tables, and the light smell of cheap beer and vomit immediately transported me back to Italia, sipping vino by the Arno on a warm summer’s evening. The furnishings were designed by another family-owned business, the brothers mononymously known as Pike. They explained that many of the brothers had spent the quarter in the city of Florence, and had brought back their impeccable decorating sense, along with a nasty strain of European chlamydia.
The first dish, or torno, was a light serving of spaghetti-- a pasta known for its long, thin rectangular shape-- and meatballs-- a Etruscan recipe of small, round spheres of beef. I was dismayed to find the pasta overcooked, quite far past the point of al dente as I had requested. The meatballs were a delightful surprise, as they appeared quite soggy at initial glance, but then were revealed to be actually rather hard. Topped with a hearty red marinara sauce, the dish was thankfully saved by merely drowning the floppy noodles and meat in an ocean of tomato.
That’s when things began to get a bit dicey. As the next dish, the primo piatto, arrived, I was confused to find it to be another helping of spaghetti and meatballs. I waved the waitress over (which took several minutes, as she was busy gossiping near the kitchen doors with her sisters) and asked-- had there been some kind of mistake? No, she replied, every dish here, from secondo piatto to dulce, was spaghetti and meatballs.
I asked to speak to her manager. She stated that her manager was busy doing coke in the bathroom. Well, this is outrageous. Does she know that Lord of the Wings has at least three types of chicken wings? And Pi Phi A La Mode has ice cream dollops as a side? If I had wanted to eat like an animal, I would have scooped up a pile of dirt at A Phi Mud Olympics.
I was near about to blow my top when I realized that perhaps I was missing the bigger picture. I had forced my expectations of an authentic Italian meal onto this avant-garde establishment-- when clearly that was never the intention. These sisters had formed a community, and whether it be through food or high socioeconomic status, that’s something I had to respect. Maybe the real point of this restaurant was to bring people together. Or maybe, just maybe, the real point was to pretend that philanthropy is the reason Greek organizations should stay on campus. Either way, I’m going to take the worst shit of my life tomorrow.