Ravioli wins by a short rib

Run, don't walk, and order the short rib ravioli at Market City Caffe in downtown Burbank. The Italian restaurant's second annual Ravioli Festival continues through Oct. 31 and features seven ravioli dishes.

I tried three of the seven offered, including the butternut qquash raviolini recommended by my waiter. All three were as good as it gets, but the short rib ravioli ($17) was the coup de grace. It was filled with osso bucco-style short rib and is served in a Portobello mushroom broth that could have been eaten alone as a soup.

The butternut squash raviolini ($16) came in a close second to the short rib ravioli. The combination of fire-roasted butternut squash, cinnamon, mascarpone cheese, brown butter and orange sauce was simply marvelous. The pasta was perfect — not too thick, so you get the flavor of the inside ingredients. The touch of cinnamon in it coaxed the flavor from the squash that I can only call autumnal freshness.

My wife had the shrimp agnolotti ($18), ravioli filled with sauteed shrimp, ricotta cheese, Parmigiano Romano, lemon zest, with lemon grass consomme and a touch of chili oil. It too was delicious.

The restaurant is semi-upscale, but it had butcher paper on the tables and, strangely, a cow that guarded the entrance. However, there is nothing quite like an open kitchen. The restaurant feels more like a family place than a chain. Market City Caffe Hospitality Group is based in Los Angeles and has extended roots to Hawaii and Las Vegas.

The other four ravioli dishes offered during the festival included Gorgonzola chicken ravioli, prosciutto and mushroom raviolini, ravioli Sorrento and ravioli Bolognese.

All Market City Caffe raviolis are hand-rolled daily, and the end result is evident. Daily ravioli specials include lobster ravioli ($17.25) on Fridays.

The pasta menu has all the usual suspects — spaghetti with house-made meatballs, Linguine alle Vongole, Penne Arrabiatta, Spaghetti alla Bolognese and one that really made my mouth water, bowties with lamb ragu (slow-roasted lamb, celery and carrots, olive oil and bowtie pasta).

The night I was there, I wanted to top off the meal with gelato, but they bought a new freezer that wasn't working and had to send it back. Disappointed, I "settled" for the creamy cheesecake.

Market City Caffe offers a Saturday and Sunday brunch served from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., with live chamber music from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tableside Bloody Mary's are $10 a glass and are handcrafted at the table using fresh ingredients. There is a full bar, an excellent wine and beer list and patio seating.

The restaurant will have a wine dinner Wednesday hosted by Don Sebastiani & Sons. A reception starts the evening at 6:30, followed by dinner at 7.


What: Market City Caffe

Where: 164 E. Palm Ave., Burbank

When: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday; 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Prices: $9.25 to $20.95.

Contact: (818) 840-7036; http://www.mcchgroup.com.

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