Famiglia Baldassarre hand-makes 27 traditional types of wholesale fresh pasta from scratch for some of Toronto’s best restaurants, and also turns into a restaurant for a two-hour lunch service four days a week.
This short window where pasta can be purchased for dine-in or takeout, the fact that only a few rotating fillings and shapes are available each day, and the high quality and technique involved in making the food are all part of why this place draws lineups before doors open.
A hive of pasta-making activity in full view of the dining area takes up much of the space, which only seats around 10.
They specialize primarily in rich long and stuffed pastas originally hailing from the northern regions of Italy.
Fillings are made with fresh local produce, cheeses and meats as well as Italian D.O.P. cheeses and salumi, and you can collaborate with chefs to create unique custom fillings.
There are typically just two pasta shapes with two sauce options on the dine-in menu from noon to 2 p.m., Tuesday to Friday, but nearly 20 are retailed on the same days from noon until 5 p.m.
Shapes like rigatoni and spaghettoni go for $1.50/100g, others like cavatelli going for $1.75/100g and tagliatelle and pappardelle for $2/100g.
A list of fresh pastas available on the day of my visit includes tagliatelle at $5/250g, rigatoni and spaghettoni for $5/300g.
Fior de latte ($9) proves pasta isn’t the only thing they’ve made fresh excellently this morning. Also made in house, the fist-sized ball of mozzarella feels like an exercise in surface tension, the pearly exterior bursting squeakily to reveal a melty, wet core of soft creamy cheese.
Pomodori e cetrioli ($5) is a simple and summery dish of Ontario heirloom tomatoes and cucumbers, sliced thick to showcase their fat juicy flavour and brilliant colours, dressed with a splashing of olive oil and lightly but aromatically seasoned.
A 16-month D.O.P. parma crudo ($6) is probably the thinnest-sliced salumi in the city. Practically transparent, the meat is fatty, almost buttery, and melts in your mouth almost instantly.
Tagliatelle al ragu ($12) is dressed with a not-too-heavy Mantovan meat sauce that soaks into velvety flat noodles, which are made with whole eggs and soft wheat flour.
Ravioli di ricotta e spinaci ($12) we do “in bianco,” i.e. in a warm pool of butter with reggiano. I think I actually like the stuffed pasta even better than the long pasta. Its thick golden dough yields to fluffy, delicate filling.
The place is named for owner Leandro Baldassare, who perfected his Michelin pasta-making technique in Italy. They also sell Bar Ape gelato bars.