I should start by saying that this dish is rich — certainly not for those still trying to stick to their New Years resolution. While cream sauced pasta might always be an off-limit item for calorie counters, it’s the Gorgonzola, ricotta and Parmesan cheese that makes this dish especially decadent and delicious. It’s this same indulgent quality that has people lined up around the block at Gayle’s Bakery & Rosticceria, a neighborhood fixture in a small beach town called Capitola, a few miles south of Santa Cruz in Northern California.
I visited Gayle’s for the first time in college on an adventure to find a solid, quality meal and a break from the less-than inspiring food of the dining hall. Craving something comforting more than anything, I felt right at home in front of their massive rotisserie and deli case packed with roasted chickens, slow barbecued ribs, potato salad and sandwiches. The place was bustling with business and food was flying out the door but nothing seemed to be selling faster than the humble looking spinach-gorgonzola pasta. As I remember it, not one customer left without ordering some. So, like any smart food explorer, I did as the locals did and took some to-go. After a few bites, it was obvious what all fuss was about.
Having moved away from Santa Cruz, I’m no longer able to take part in what became a near-weekly trip to Gayle’s for some of their signature pasta. So feeling especially deprived of late, I searched for the restaurant online and was lucky enough to find that they’ve been giving out the recipe to their customers for years. After making the dish at home this past weekend, I’m happy to report that it’s as soul-satisfying as I remember it.