Since that was back in 1992, and the place is bustling -- with a line out the door some evenings -- apparently it isn't all that hard to find!
The dining room is cozy, with about a dozen tables, and can be convivially boisterous on a weekend evening, but it's the kind of place where you might strike up a conversation with the diners at the next table, and maybe glean a tip on what to order. The tiny, open kitchen sizzles, making hungry diners even more ravenous with the sights, sounds and aromas of cooking.
One of my favorite salads is a special, but one that appears frequently on the menu.
Asparagus, tomatoes, roasted red peppers and feta, with fresh basil and drizzled with a balsamic dressing ($7.50).
When asparagus and tomatoes are in season, this dish is lovely to behold, and even more delightful to taste. The salty tang of feta complements the fresh ingredients, and the balsamic vinegar brings a sweet-sour component to the dish.
Many pasta choices beckon, from ravioli and tortellini to penne and linguine. Marinara and puttanesca sauces are available, as well as some less usual combinations.
Fettuccini with broccoli and walnuts is a vibrant and flavorful choice, and healthful, too ($7.50). Quite a bit more indulgent, but also full of flavor is the fettuccini carbonara, with a double dose of smoky bacon and prosciutto ($7.95).
Over a dozen chicken dishes provide food for thought.
Bowtie pasta with chicken, spinach and gorgonzola ($8.95) is creamy, tender and delicious, and the Pizza Lover's chicken ($8.95) features many of the ingredients you might find on a pizza with "the works" -- olives, peppers, mushrooms, marinara sauce and provolone, along with fettuccine and chicken.
Pasta jambalaya is a twist on the Creole rice dish, with shrimp, chicken and prosciutto, and fettuccini standing in for the rice ($9.95).
One dish that I haven't tried yet that sounds intriguing for autumn is the chicken caraway ($8.95) with cabbage and a creamy caraway sauce over noodles. It might be a perfect cold-weather dinner.
Seafood and veal dishes round out the menu, along with pizzas and sandwiches. A children's menu is also available ($4.95 to $5.95).
Desserts include tiramisu and various chocolate temptations.
If you have no room for dessert, but still crave something sweet, don't overlook the jar of "help yourself" jelly beans on the way out.
The menu offers enough variety that most diners could find something to fit their palate's desire at Pasta Preziosa.
Over a decade after I first discovered this place, Pasta Preziosa continues to please, with fresh ingredients, pleasant service and fair prices.
* CHERIE MERCER TWOHY teaches cooking in La Canada. She can be reached at www.chezcherie.com