As college students, sometimes we have to branch out from our usual Sunday night boxed spaghetti and canned marinara sauce meals. But breaking habits could taste as good as fresh pasta in Italy. Or as good as fresh pasta in the East Village, to be exact. Nestled just a few blocks from New York University is every pasta lover's dream come true, San Marzano.

This pasta paradise is under the radar—blink and you'll almost miss it—but once you step in the restaurant, you're immediately welcomed by a spacious yet comfortable industrial ambiance.

The Location

You can find San Marzano on 117 2nd Ave., a quick stroll if you happen to find yourself by Washington Square Park.

Come in for brunch or lunch and your meal is accompanied by the city sunshine through their floor-to-ceiling windows. But aside from the aesthetic that will look good in any Instagram feed, is the menu of all menus.

The Menu

Start with appetizers like meatballs served with marinara sauce or their fresh and creamy burrata. Then dive into the array of fresh pasta and sauces to choose from. That’s right: a build-your-own pasta menu.

There are six pasta shapes to choose from, ranging from your classic spaghetti to even whole wheat and gluten-free options. Completing your meal is a choice of one from twelve sauces, where you can’t possibly go wrong with whichever one you choose. The selection ranges from your meaty classics, to your fresh veggie sauces, and homemade restaurant sauces.

pasta, spaghetti, macaroni
Jocelyn Hsu

It’s easy to get lost in the sauce—quite literally. For just nine dollars, you can mix and match pasta shapes that will accommodate your favorite sauce the best. I repeat, NINE dollar freshly rolled pasta served with homemade sauces, all a train-ride away if you’re within the New York area. Close your eyes and order a glass of wine and you might just be in Italy.

When I visited San Marzano last spring, I tried their alla norma sauce with bowtie pasta, along with their complementary and almost necessary baguette. After taking the required food pics on all social media accounts, I dove straight into my dream pasta dish. After scraping what was left of the sauce with my bread and fork, I immediately started to plan when I could come back again and fulfill my quest to try every sauce and pasta combination.

But Wait... There's More

Even when you’re not in the pasta mood, their menu offers panini and a brunch menu that will satisfy your cravings. San Marzano’s versatility doesn’t end in their array of sauces to choose from, for their dessert menu will have you risking it all after a whole bowl of carbs.

There are the all-time favorites tiramisu and cannoli. Then there’s my personal favorite, the ricottella, which ricotta and Nutella in a heavenly fried dough pocket served with whipped cream. You almost wish you had all the time in the world and the body capacity to try everything off their menu in one sitting.

Though East Village may be filled with many food adventures, make San Marzano a must-do if you truly want to experience the taste of fresh pasta on a whole new level. Maybe the next time you pull out the box of spaghetti from your pantry you’ll think twice and create your own pasta and sauce right in your kitchen.