Trailer-Made: Regal Ravioli

 
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 11.02.11
 
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UPDATED June 2014 with new address and hours, below.
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Ravioli is a simple dish. A sheet of pasta with a scoop of meat or cheese or vegetables and their endless combinations, covered by another layer of pasta and crimped together. You might call them pierogi or gyoza or kreplach where you’re from, but we all have a soft spot for dumplings. And now we have a rolling spot for ravioli at Regal Ravioli on East Sixth at Comal. (We also have a pierogi trailer now, but I'll save that one for another time.)
 
At Regal’s yellow trailer, you pick a ravioli style from one list, then a sauce from another. There might be mushroom or beet or sausage or even Wagyu beef chili fillings and always cheese. They’re five to an order for $7-$9. Regal sauces them with marinara, fontina veloute, pecan pesto, Bolognese and others.
 
Something subtle to start. Ravioli with butternut squash and pecan pesto ($8). They seem made for each other on a hard-gusting fall day, the ravioli with creamy-sweet squash and warm notes of poblano, the pesto with basil and olive oil and nuggets of Texas pecan. I could taste every element in a ravioli with Italian sausage ($9) from Peach Creek Farms south of Bastrop: the sausage’s herbal heat, the tang of red peppers, the smooth bite of ricotta. Layered with the trailer’s thick, sweet marinara, each raviolo was like a composed casserole, with a better balance of pasta to filling than you’d get from lasagna or another heavyhanded macaroni collective.
 
We’ve been conditioned to think ravioli is meant to be slick, when its more native state is something like a dough pocket, something meant to withstand the weight of expectation. These ravioli can take a punch. Too many punches. I don’t need my pasta to go 12 rounds, all hard on the edges and sticky in the middle. So sticky that the ravioli on the bottom of the paper boat clung for their lives, and I ended up just skimming off the tops and leaving the bottom layer anchored in place.
 
I talk a lot about the service level at trailers, and Regal Ravioli is one of the reasons why. The sausage ravioli I just described, with the marinara? I’d actually ordered it with Bolognese. I’ll live. But halfway through lunch, owner Zach Adams came out to apologize, saying they’d accidentally switched the sauces. The sauce he brought out was the same deep red, this time with equal parts ground lamb, sauce that started with prosciutto simmered to melting. I liked its tomato profile, but I’d gladly trade the acidity for the smoothness of a Bolognese finished with cream.
 
Adams and the other cook were as apologetic for the mistake as they were helpful when the person I was meeting didn’t show up. I had $27 worth of ravioli, salad and San Pellegrino, and they were ready to store it, heat it or refrigerate it, in any order I needed. A cooldown was ideal for a $2 bottle of Chinotto, one of those 200ml ready-made vases for the flowers my kids pick from the yard. They wouldn’t like the soda, though. It’s a brown digestif that tastes like bitter orange Chloraseptic throat spray, and my adult palate has warped to the point that I loved it. Your average half-liter of regular fizzy San Pellegrino is $2.50. Wuss.
 
So my company stood me up. I wouldn’t have shared the salad, anyway. It was a simple toss of apples, Gorgonzola cheese, crushed pecans, roasted red peppers and fresh tomato with a lemony vinaigrette for $6. Nevermind that the menu listed oven-roasted tomatoes. And pears. Adams asked permission before substituting the apples. The improvisation held together, and the bounty of cheese alone would have carried the $6 price.
 
Regal Ravioli
Updated June 2014: 1502 S. First St., 512-364-9752, www.regalravioli.com
Hours: 6 to 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
 
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)
 
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