Since the coronavirus pandemic forced restaurants to temporarily close their dining rooms, many were challenged to get creative—and fast—in order to stay afloat. All across the country, establishments have implemented new takeout and delivery initiatives to drum up business while keeping staff employed and providing convenient options to their communities.
A growing number of restaurants, in particular, are now offering pasta kits: DIY packages of freshly made pastas and handcrafted sauces for at-home preparation. The model makes a lot of sense. Pasta is comforting, familiar, widely loved by the masses and extremely quick to prepare—when thrown into a pot of boiling water, fresh noodles cook to al dente in mere minutes.
In fact, most of the chefs we spoke to will continue make-at-home meal programs even after regular service resumes. The added revenue stream can help expedite their comeback plan while giving people the opportunity to whip up outstanding pasta in their own kitchens (win-win).
Whether you’re craving hearty tubes of rigatoni coated with rich bolognese or creamy strands of spaghetti cacio e pepe, these standout spots will deliver the goods. Mangiamo!
Under normal circumstances, this buzzy Seattle restaurant’s flagship experience is an extremely ambitious and inspired multi-course tasting menu. However, once the pandemic hit, Addo’s focus quickly shifted to support a takeout operation—a considerable change for chef Eric Rivera. The restaurant pivoted to introduce take-home pasta packs consisting of five fresh pastas and five sauces (for $55). “People like pasta, so for us it was an easy move since we already have an extruder. We’re producing about twenty times more than we’re used to doing, but it’s what people want right now so we’ll give it to them,” says Rivera, who is “having a good time with it” and will keep the entire pasta program—along with additional prepare-at-home goods, meats and fresh seafood packages—moving forward.
Rezdôra, New York City
Up until a few weeks ago, scoring a table at Rezdôra was one of the most coveted reservations in town. Now, Italian chef Stefano Secchi’s exceptional Emilia-Romagna fare is readily accessible—much to the delight of locals. “In order to survive, you have to adapt,” Secchi says. “We’ve pivoted our business to accommodate pickup and delivery only, something that we didn’t plan on doing. We also wanted to give back, so 10 percent of fresh pasta sales are going to ROAR x Robin Hood, which is an amazing organization dedicated to restaurant worker relief.”
The Flatiron hotspot offers mix-and-match daily pastas for two (stuffed anolini, radiatore, spinach pappardelle) with handmade ragus including braised wild boar with porcini mushrooms and Modenese-style with prosciutto and pork. (Pro tip: Don’t forget the gelato and vino to round out your meal). “Our goal has always been to make people happy and we’re going to do everything we can to see that through, while trying to keep people employed.” Secchi would like to continue cook-at-home efforts after figuring out long-term logistics. “It’s happened so quickly, but we’ve had a great response from New Yorkers!”
Bakin’ & Eggs, Chicago
A few weeks ago, acclaimed chef and Chicago native Ryan Poli borrowed an extruder to make pasta and red sauce for his friends and family. After an overwhelming response and requests for more, the idea for Pasta Peddler was born. “Everyone loved it and asked if they could get some pasta for their friends, or if they could buy some sauces as gifts. I had no intention of ever doing this as a ‘job,’ but in the age of COVID, here we are,” Poli says. “Also it gets me out of the house for 6 to 7 hours a day working in a kitchen that’s closed right now. So I’m just making pasta and jamming tunes all day. It’s very therapeutic.”
Each Pasta Peddler kit serves four to six people and includes two pounds of freshly extruded pasta—in shapes like rigatoni and bigoli—and one pint of each sauce: vodka, spicy tomato, parmesan cream and mushroom bolognese. Half portions are also available. Chicagoans can reserve the kits online for pickup at Bakin’ & Eggs, a cheery breakfast-and-lunch-spot in Lakeview founded by Poli’s friends, Bob and Gina Hartwig. “We are all in this together,” Poli added. “It’s a phrase I’ve been saying to a lot of people when they pick up the pasta.”
Rossoblu, Los Angeles
Chef Steve Samson’s contemporary love letter to Bologna serves phenomenal pasta to the downtown LA crowd, who can still get their fix—but now at home. “Prior to the pandemic, we had been planning to launch Pastificio La Dotta in order to showcase our talented sfoglino (“pasta master”), Francesco Allegro,” Samson says. “The shutdown has allowed us to focus our energy on different goals, namely the pastificio and establishing a philanthropic effort.”
Rossoblu’s current menu boasts a handful of customizable pasta kits for two—including hand-rolled tortelloni filled with potato and housemade sausage with brown butter sage, and spinach tagliatelle with bolognese or vegetarian tomato sugo—along with containers of signature sauces and reheat-at-home lasagna and eggplant parmigiana. “We definitely plan to continue these efforts after the restaurant reopens,” Samson added. Also noteworthy: The restaurant will offer a limited amount of multi-course meals, through Tock, starting next weekend.
Locals and tourists alike flock to Miami Beach’s rustic Italian taverna for the freshly made pasta, so it’s no surprise that the make-at-home kits for two—including Macchialina’s beloved pappardelle bolognese, spaghetti pomodoro and cacio e pepe—are a welcome addition. “We like to think we have a finger on the pulse of our city. When the quarantine started, we knew people were going to be stuck at home with limited ingredients and lots of free time. So we developed the pasta kits—each comes with pasta, sauce, cheese and instructions—as a way to cover both of those needs. We were a bit shocked at the overwhelming support and excitement for the kits; it’s been a wonderful help during this tough time,” says chef-owner Michael Pirolo, who would love to maintain the effort once Macchialina reopens.
Felix, Los Angeles
Outstanding handmade pasta, which Los Angeles native Evan Funke mastered how to craft in Italy, takes center stage at his Venice trattoria, Felix (the restaurant even has a climate-controlled, glass-enclosed room where diners can watch the pasta-making action). So the popularity of pasta kits among Felix devotees comes as no surprise.
“Pasta Fresca” for two features nine mouthwatering varieties—from casarecci with vibrant pesto Genovese to mezzo rigatoni with oxtail ragu and pecorino romano. Housemade sauces by the pint and quart are also available for takeaway, along with knockout pizzas, other prepared items and bottled mezcal Negronis. Will fresh pasta kits remain a menu fixture after regular service resumes? It’s possible. Funke says, “We will make the best decision for the business and our staff when the time comes.”
Stellina Pizzeria, Washington DC
Shortly after debuting their Southern Italian concept in April 2019, co-owners Antonio Matarazzo and chef Matteo Venini—longtime friends and native Italians—decided to offer pasta kits for guests seeking simple, spirited meals to prepare at home. Since the pandemic derailed regular operations at their Union Market restaurant, the duo expanded the program to include additional styles of freshly made pastas with robust homemade sauces—from paccheri all’Amatriciana with Parmigiano-Reggiano to classic tonnarelli cacio e pepe. Each “Awesome Sauce” kit comes with cooking instructions and is available for pickup or delivery. The initiative has become a hit with locals staying sheltered and embracing home cooking and will continue once Stellina reopens for business.
Offering cook-at-home kits is something chef-partner Al Di Meglio has always aimed to do at his modern Italian eatery, so it made perfect sense to start now. “We wanted to provide the neighborhood an option to order food to cook at home. It started small, then we received insight that this was exactly what the neighborhood wanted,” says Di Meglio, who adds that figuring out how to weather the storm was important; being there for the community while keeping a few employees on payroll. Barano’s menu showcases fresh pastas by the pound (fusilli, paccheri, spinach lumache and more) and handcrafted sauces by the pint (tomato, vodka, pesto, pork bolognese and lamb ragu). Other DIY items: a pizza kit and a 12-ounce New York strip steak to flame at home. In a matter of weeks, the initiative has grown significantly—and will continue once the south Williamsburg restaurant reopens.
LaRina Pastificio e Vino, Brooklyn
Since being forced to close to diners, this Fort Greene neighborhood gem moved its “alimentari” shop (formerly a retail counter tucked in the back) to the front of the restaurant and expanded the offerings of food made in-house and specialty Italian imports. Customers can order menu staples for contactless delivery or pick up fresh pastas (rigatoni, spaghetti, ravioli, cavatelli, strozzapreti and more) and daily-changing sauces like ramp pesto and short rib ragu.
“LaRina has always strived to be a family restaurant,” chef-partner Silvia Barban says. “In this crazy time, our wonderful customers—really family—are supporting us by shopping our market, ordering online, sharing on Instagram and sending us encouraging words about how they miss us and can’t wait to dine here again soon. At first it was a tough decision if we wanted to, or even could, stay open, but ultimately, we wanted to serve our community—our famiglia. We are so grateful.” LaRina’s retail business will carry on after dine-in resumes.
Osteria Morini, New York City
This Soho standby is celebrated for its Emilia-Romagna specialties like savory rigatoni bolognese, which can be conveniently prepared at home now. Available for delivery or pickup, the practical kit serves four and has everything needed to recreate the signature dish: one pound of housemade rigatoni, one pint of hearty bolognese ragu, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, dried chili flakes, chopped parsley and a recipe card.
“We recognize that a lot of people want the experience of cooking at home right now, but don’t always have the right ingredients, or the time, to make something entirely from scratch. This is the best of both worlds—fresh, handmade food you can feel good about, that comes together in no time,” says Altamarea Group’s corporate executive chef Bill Dorrler, adding that the kit provides a high payoff for a tiny bit of effort. The team will carry out this initiative into the foreseeable future, periodically switching up the type of pasta.
Also noteworthy: Osteria Morini’s Washington, DC outpost is offering cappelletti-making kits for two that contain stamped-out pasta sheets, truffle ricotta filling, prosciutto, butter sauce and assembly instructions.
M. Georgina, Los Angeles
After seasonally-driven M. Georgina temporarily closed to guests, chef-owner Melissa Perello and team partnered with County Line Harvest farm to offer Los Angeles residents customizable CSA boxes. Select from several handcrafted pastas by the pound—including semolina malfadine, tehachapi red fife casarecce and squid ink spaghetti—and flavorful sauces such as walnut crema, pork ragu, pesto and tomato marinara. You can pre-order your favorites for curbside pickup at the ROW DTLA eatery every Friday. Complete your meal with seasonal farmers’ market produce, bottled craft cocktails and an organic grain “Pain au Levain” sourdough country loaf that should absolutely be part of your order.
“If the M. Georgina Shop continues to evolve and there’s still a demand from our guests, we see no reason to discontinue the services,” Perello says. “It’s hard to predict what the landscape will be after the shutdown and for the foreseeable future, but we are remaining nimble and working with our team to help our community.”
Osteria 57, New York City
Adapting to the new norm during coronavirus, chef Riccardo Orfino and his team transformed their intimate West Village restaurant into a production facility, renamed O57 Lab, where they’re crafting both their regular menu for delivery and homemade line, Fatti in Casa. The program evolved into an online specialty store with scratch-made pasta kits to prepare signatures—such as fettuccine with pesto Siciliano, or ravioli with tomato, basil and Parmigiano—at home. Top-quality ingredients are sourced from small companies and directly from producers to lend support during this time.
“We’re working together for our common good. We all have to take responsibility for what is happening and take this opportunity to shift our actions in a direction of sustainability, respect and cooperation,” says owner Emanuele Nigro, who will “absolutely” keep O57 Lab going to meet the need for “healthy, locally-sourced, organic and sustainable products.”