Toronto just got a hidden new store for fresh pasta and pizza
Toronto's new hidden shop for handmade pasta and pizza was actually conceived by people under lockdown in Italy.
Called La Pecora, the concept offers delivery and also operates as a pop-up shop from Thursday to Saturday at 1100 Queen Street West. They offer pasta kits, fresh pasta, pizza, porchetta, sauces and sides.
The chef behind it, Mike Sala, is only 30 yet has 13 years of culinary experience, "including spending over a year living and working as a pasta chef in Abruzzo, Italy in a Michelin-starred restaurant," according to the La Pecora site, which describes the project as "a food delivery service that specializes in fresh, handmade, traditional Abruzzese food."
"In Italy, Mike immersed himself in the food and culture, while experiencing a greater connection to the land and traditions," it continues. "Upon his return home to Toronto, Mike decided to launch La Pecora."
Speaking to blogTO, Sala said: "We launched La Pecora on Dec. 17 2020. Jenn, Julian and I came up with the idea over the phone while Jenn and I were in lockdown in Italy.
"We always had a dream of starting a food company so when we had to move back home to Toronto due to COVID, we decided 'why wait? Why not just figure out a way to do it now?'"
"Before this, Jenn and I had been living in Italy. I was working as a chef de partie in a Michelin-starred restaurant in Abruzzo, Italy for almost a year when COVID hit.
"We had plans to move there indefinitely but changed our minds when the food industry closed there due to COVID. I've been working in restaurants since I was 17 and as a chef for eight years now."
20 frozen ravioli di ricotta go for $15, while 300g of fresh pappardelle is $7.
All items can be ordered online for delivery, or you can check out their pop-up shop to see what's available to pick up.
"We chose to make our focus on cooking food from our family's regions of Italy, Abruzzo and Molise, which we believe to have some of the best dishes and products in the country. While we grew up eating this kind of food, during our time living there, we got to experience the culture firsthand," says Sala.
"For us, what makes Abruzzese culture and food so special is not just the dishes in particular but the overall respect for natural and high quality ingredients. Our focus is to keep our food traditional and simple, while maintaining a high standard of quality."
For pizza, there are 9-by-13-inch potato and rosemary or tomato pies for $12.
10-to-12-ounce porchettas are $16, and there are options like oxtail ragu, rapini pesto and tomato for sauces.
For sides, you can grab pepperoncini or confit cherry tomatoes for $8.
"We chose to start with pasta, pizza and porchetta because we felt it was a good introduction to Abruzzese cuisine. And given the current state of circumstances, it's a good way to maintain quality while doing takeout and delivery," says Sala.
"We make two types of fresh pasta, one is a semolina based extruded pasta, which is lighter and one is our egg noodle, which is more rich in body. All of our pasta is made fresh each morning."
As for pasta kits, you might find bucatini paired with an Amatriciana sauce, spaghetti bundled with tomato sauce and meatballs, or pappardelle coupled with oxtail ragu.
"As of early February, we started a pasta pop up, where people can come and get fresh pasta, pizza and daily specials, like porchetta," says Sala.
"We found our space on Kijiji. We were looking for commercial kitchens and found this space and thought it would be perfect for what we want to do. We also love the location, Jenn and I lived across the street before moving abroad."
People in Toronto are loving the taste of Abruzzese cuisine they've brought back with them from Italy to Toronto.
"The response has been really great so far. We've been getting good support from our customers and have developed some regulars already which we're so grateful for. It's not easy for the food industry right now but we're hoping to continue to grow and see where we can take this," says Sala.
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