Jerry Bello—the man behind health-conscious snacks like Sensible Portions, Pita Bites, and Veggie Straws—has a new snack on the market, this one inspired by a meal he had in Tuscany. They're called Pasta Chips; made of semolina flour and oven-baked, they're about the size of ravioli, complete with the ridges. Each flavor is inspired by a sauce, and tied to a region or city in Italy—Spicy Tomato Herb is meant to evoke Calabria, for example; while Mediterranean Sea Salt nods to Puglia (where you'll find the largest salt flat in Europe). Here's what we thought of all five flavors, which—as the bags say—have 60% less fat than regular potato chips.
The inspiration for this flavor comes from the pizza mecca of Naples—so I shouldn't have been shocked to discover that the chips tasted exactly like Bagel Bites. Dusted with a red seasoning, the chips are equally tangy and salty, with hints of garlic and onion powder.
Rank: 1, for reminding me of Bagel Bites.
Mediterranean Sea Salt
These were the only flavor without a visible coating of spices or seasoning. All in all, they were simple, salty—but not overwhelmingly so—and satisfying. The ingredients list ran half as long as the rest, which is always a bonus (though there were still a few words I couldn't pronounce). And because these were the most bare bones, they pair well with dips like salsa or hummus.
Rank 2, despite being a bit too plain to stand out on on their own.
Garlic and Olive Oil
I happen to love garlic, so I was not turned off by the fact that these taste (and smell) like someone dumped an entire canister of garlic salt in the bag. It more than lives up to its name, though the olive oil flavor is overpowered. My advice: have a stash of mints handy, for this is one garlicky (and addictive) chip.
Rank 3. The strong flavor was great for this garlic lover.
Though this flavor hints at what the real, creamy sauce tastes like, it falls short of the real thing. They could stand to be cheesier; the parmesan and romano cheese flavors get lost beneath the garlic and onion powder. Bottom line: if it's alfredo you want, just splurge on the pasta. And note that you'll want to have napkins handy to wipe off the fine white powder that will coat your fingers.
Rank: 4, for being a tad too salty and not cheesy enough
Spicy Tomato Herb
For such a savory-sounding name, these were actually a bit bland and unbalanced, and don't really taste tomato-y (despite having both tomato powder and dehydrated tomato in the ingredients). There was just the faintest hint of spice, which only hits once you've swallowed the chip, so those looking for a kick will be left wanting. They have a tang to them, and a hint of red pepper. For some reason, they reminded me of the Italian dressing that comes in packets at fast-food restaurants.
Ranking: 5, for not being spicy or flavorful enough.
Samples provided for review consideration.