Toronto's secret new pasta joints are hidden inside homes
While some have delved into baking during lockdown, or even starting small businesses out of their homes delivering products, others have done the same with the art of pasta creation.
Back To The Pasta and Pasta Forever are just two of many handmade pasta delivery services operating out of homes in Toronto, with other businesses like Rockwell Pasta doing the same thing. Like with baking, some are hobbyists, but others are professionals using their talents and sudden surplus of time to find a new way to feed people.
"We moved to Toronto from Italy few years ago and we were both working in high end restaurants before the pandemic," Luca Lanzafame and Luli Lavdari of Back To The Pasta wrote to blogTO in a statement.
"During COVID we had a lot of time to gather our thoughts and talk about our passions. Sunday has always been fresh pasta day for us both here and in Italy and our friends used to tell us that it was so good that we should've make a business out of it. In September we started talking about it and by the first week of November we went online."
It's a similar story with Jess Maiorano of Pasta Forever, where she sells pasta and snacks and also runs virtual pasta classes.
"I'm a chef who has been specializing in pasta for the past few years, and was working as a pasta chef when COVID hit and shut all restaurants," Maiorano told blogTO. "I started off doing fresh pasta deliveries to close friends and neighbours."
Not only does the professional experience of these chefs make their products worthy of coveting, the way they have to operate during the pandemic means small batches made by hand by a small number of people with a great deal of control over the end products. That also means they can change things up seasonally on a whim, allowing for more creativity for them and more surprise for customers.
"I think what makes my product special is that everything I do is handmade, mostly because I cant afford all the equipment that other pasta wholesalers in the city use. It's alot more work to do everything by hand, but it makes the product a lot better," says Maiorano.
"I also like to offer specials every week and I think the customers like that I offer fun meal kits, creative things you would eat in restaurants, not just tagliatelle and bolognese like everywhere else offers. I like to really work with seasonal vegetables, and different cheeses, do alot of different shapes, it keeps it interesting."
Lanzafame and Lavdari echo this difference in their products, saying that although there's no secret ingredient or piece of wisdom that makes their pasta so great, the simple traditions they follow keep customers coming back.
"The secret of our pasta and sauces is not a secret really, we use high quality ingredients sourced locally supporting small businesses and never take shortcuts, for example our dough is hand made regardless of the quantity of orders we receive and our bolognese cooks for six hours at least," they write.
"The IG page grew pretty fast and so did the demand, we found a very supporting community especially in the east end and people were very excited about our product, we have a few customers that order basically every week and that is the greatest reward one can ask for."
The popularity has become so great for Maiorano's product over at Pasta Forever, for example, that she's actually outgrown working out of her home and now operates out of an environment she's familiar with: professional kitchens.
"Since expanding the business over the last few months, I no longer work from home," says Maiorano. "I work out of restaurant/cafe kitchens, as the number of orders just keep climbing."
Hopefully all the pasta chefs currently pivoting with pasta delivery services and all sorts of other projects will be able to get back into pro kitchens soon so they can work with a team serving a full house like they're used to.
Back To The Pasta
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