A repast at Pasta Piatti can be an adventure through sumptuous dishes that blend past with present.

A repast at Pasta Piatti can be an adventure through sumptuous dishes that blend past with present.

The restaurant's New World Italian cuisine offers such classics as chicken Parmigiana and lasagna to eggplant Caprese panini and Italian-sausage burgers. Also look for a seared ahi salad alongside the traditional Caesar salad or minestrone soup.

Tuscan ambience makes this a great place for lunch or dinner, and carryout and delivery are available. If you can catch a warm, sunny day, dining alfresco is available on the deck in front of the restaurant.

Sunny days are hit-or-miss this time of year in the Rogue Valley, so my friend and I took a seat inside, where it was a bit warmer.

We were graciously greeted by Alexis, who let us choose a window booth and brought us glasses of RoxyAnn Winery pinot gris. The wine turned out to be a good match for Italian food.

Of the antipasti, try the squash fondue. It's a delectable side dish that starts with half of a roasted acorn squash. It's topped with soft ricotta and caramelized onions and Granny Smith apples, sprinkled with a smattering of pumpkin seeds and maple syrup, and served with toasted focaccia and cranberry relish ($6.95). It's a delicious start for a meal on a cold afternoon, and the portion is more than enough as an appetizer for two people.

The pizzas at Pasta Piatti will beckon. These artisan pies are available on 10- or 18-inch, hand-tossed crusts and include creative mixtures of toppings. Look for the Oregon, graced with white sauce, pears, walnuts, bacon and Gorgonzola dolce, or the Verde, topped with sliced Brussels sprouts and shallots, extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and fresh-cracked pepper. The Bianco con Funghi sounds delicious with mascarpone sauce, wild mushrooms, fontina from Willamette Valley Cheese, white-truffle oil and chives. Prices range from $9.95 to $26 for the Shrimp Pistou. Add $2.95 to any 10-inch pizza for a soy crust.

We ordered the meatball pizza with thinly sliced, house-made meatballs, shaved shallots, tomato sauce and mozzarella, to take home for later ($12.95).

Of the pastas, fettuccine Alfredo is tough for me to resist. The crab ravioli equally enticed. I gave it all up for the cappellini: angel hair pasta topped with tomato sugo, shredded organic basil, garlic and extra-virgin olive oil ($9.50). This simple pasta sauce is a mouthwatering delight. Grated Parmesan, salt, pepper and red chili flakes are available if diners wish to enhance the flavor of their dishes. I didn't think it necessary.

Pasta dishes range from $9.50 for the cappellini to $15.25 for chicken Parmigiana. Wheat-free pasta also is available.

My friend looked over the pasta and chose the roasted turkey-club panini. This sandwich touted slices of oven-roasted turkey breast, applewood-smoked bacon, romaine and sliced tomatoes, along with thin layers of rosemary aioli and pesto, on focaccia. It was garnished with a side of organic greens tossed with a light honey-citrus vinaigrette.

Paninis cost $8.75 for the eggplant Caprese to $9.95 for the Italian-sausage burger.

We shared bites of this and that, turning lunch into a flavorful buffet.

Pasta Piatti is budget-friendly and a safe bet for good food. Chef Tom Beam shares some of his recipes on the restaurant's website, www.pastapiatti.com.

The Ashland restaurant is at 358 E. Main St. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Some menu items are not available after 4 p.m.

Pasta Piatti accepts only Visa and MasterCard. Call 541-488-5493 for more information.

— Laurie Heuston