As I walked into Cry Baby Pasta early one Wednesday evening, I felt an instant sense of comfort and familiarity. Alt–pop music suddenly amplified as we entered the main room from the foyer, which was filled with portraits and paneled wood. The room was populated by families, elders, and the occasional younger couple, and everyone was reveling in the novelty of another restaurant opening up in the usually quiet neighborhood of Queen Village (the restaurant is located on 627 S 3rd St.). There's been something of a dining renaissance in the mostly residential neighborhood, with trendy neo–classics like Hungry Pigeon and Royal Sushi & Izakaya, alongside newer additions like Cry Baby and Fiore. The words Queen Village aren't so obscure anymore as the dining scene there has grown. Maybe I felt so at ease because I’m a Queen Village native myself, but the space is welcoming enough that even out–of–towners will feel like one of the locals.
Most locals know Bridget Foy, the owner of Cry Baby Pasta, from her namesake restaurant that burned down in 2017, Bridget Foy's. Originally owned by her parents, the restaurant was a Queen Village mainstay and will be rebuilt in the coming months. However, Foy put all the extra time she had to use with developing Cry Baby, aiming to create a "rock and roll pasta bar where you can let your hair down and be yourself."
To start, we ordered the meatballs with tomato sauce and smoked ricotta, as well as the charred broccoli with garlic and anchovy. Both were delicious; the meatballs were incredibly succulent and perfectly salted, balanced out by the relatively sweet and fresh taste of ricotta cheese. The broccoli was spicy and garlicky, though some bites were a bit overseasoned. Definitely not a highlight, but an option for vegetarians. Other options range from soups, bruschettas, and salads to open the meal. The starters were good, but what came next was on a totally different level.
Cry Baby Pasta doesn't have pasta in the title for nothing–it truly does take center stage. We ordered the tagliatelle with bolognese sauce and parmesan as well as the rigatoni with vodka sauce, pancetta, and chicken. Immediately, we noticed just how fresh the the dish tasted–we knew at that moment that we were eating some high quality pasta. The tagliatelle was creamy and meaty with hints of fennel–truly Italian comfort food at its finest. The chicken in the rigatoni was well–spiced and juicy, and the dish as a whole wasn’t drenched in vodka sauce (as it might have been at another restaurant), which let the pasta speak for itself. The portions were filling and generous, but not grossly large.
Though we thought we couldn’t eat anymore after the main course, we managed to share a ‘Torta Della Nonna’, a traditional Tuscan dessert whose name translates to ‘grandmother’s tart.’ Immediately upon biting into the tart you get a nutty crunch from the pine nut covering, with the silkiness of the custard filling providing the perfect balance.
While Cry Baby is definitely a place reserved for more special nights for the average college student, it’s a more casual option that doesn’t require you to put on your most uncomfortable pair of shoes in order to enjoy a sumptuous meal. Prices vary, with starters and sides staying in the $10 and under range, pastas ranging from $12–$17, and large plates staying under $22.
Cry Baby is sure to be a great time for anyone visiting, with good food and good vibes tucked inside an unassuming facade that will make any food–lover feel like they're eating a home–cooked meal with a little bit of edge.