There's a sort of knowingness that pervades the experience at Pasta Supply Co. on Clement Street.
Watching a cook crafting various pastas by hand behind the glass counter, for example, you learn to distinguish tonnarelli from tagliatelle, or cuscini ("little pillows") from mezzaluna.
There's also astuteness behind the warm hospitality on offer, such as the decision by chef-owner Anthony Strong to create a stroller parking lot outside, to make the place as welcoming to young families in the neighborhood as to couples on date night.
Even the unusual way of ordering your meal shows forethought. When you're near the front of the queue (service is walk-in only, no reservations), the host hands you a menu and takes your order before you're seated, to reduce wait times and keep things flowing. On my visit, Brandon Wells, the genial general manager, performed this duty. He and Strong, veterans of Delfina Restaurant Group, have been friends since childhood.
Stinging nettle pansotti w/ red walnut cream.(Courtesy of Pasta Supply Co.)
Inside Pasta Supply Co.—which is also what it sounds like, a retail space offering sauces, dried pastas, and pantry products—the 38-seat dining area, where service began on June 21st, has black wood floors, a wall covered in cork tile, and '90s hip hop on the sound system.
For my first course, I chose the house salad of frisée, arugula, and artisan greens with Parmigiano Reggiano and a deftly understated lemon dressing with cumin and anchovy. I opted for the topping of bread crumbs made from pan'terra, the house version of ciabatta that may also be ordered warm, on its own, or with crushed fresh tomato pulp like some fondly remembered domestic pleasure from childhood.
House-made pastas are bronze pressed, a process by which the dough is extruded through dies made of heavy bronze rather than formed in silicon molds. This creates a rough surface that holds and soaks up sauces well. Among the five selections on the current menu are a lobster butter spaghetti and rigatoni with lamb ragù. I'd previously brought home a container of Pasta Supply Co.'s rich smoky pork sugo from the shop counter, so decided to try a meatless dish: sweet corn raviolini with sauerkraut and fried peppercorns. The buttery deliciousness was complete with a generous amount of ricotta salata.
Affordability is a key draw here: Only one of the pastas on the dinner menu is over $20. Staff delight in sharing insight about pairing sauces with pasta shapes. Malfadine is a popular pick, served at dinner with butter and cheese.
"It's such a fun shape," Strong says. "It has the slurpability of a long noodle and holds sauces in its ridges so well."
Dinner comes with a show at Pasta Supply Co.: the performance of making noodles by hand.(Courtesy of Pasta Supply Co.)
The wine list focuses on natural wines. Of course there are Italian vintages such as a 2021 Oltretorrente Tortonesi Bianco from Piemonte, but offerings also include an Oregon pinot and Vinho Verde from Portugal's famous Niepoort team.
"We have one foot rooted in Italian—we're making pasta, that's what we do, it's our focus," Strong says. "But it's also okay being nerdy American kids doing our thing."
Doing their thing shows up in the beer selection, where one of the three brews on the menu, sold by can or six-pack, is Bell's Two-Hearted IPA from Kalamazoo. A bit of nerdy creativity can also be spotted in the bathroom, which is wallpapered in a design of vintage punk rock show flyers. There's even some cheeky fun behind that pan'terra, named in honor of the heavy metal band Pantera.
Dessert comes in the form of panna cotta, with two selections including Dandelion chocolate with Earl Grey cream. I opted for the ruby grapefruit and Seka Hills olive oil version. The juicy fresh citrus segments provided counterpoint to the rich vanilla cream, and the smooth mouth feel was accented by the delicate crunch of tiny pink peppercorns.
The room was full as I left, a buzz of diners happily satiating their palates and comparing tasting notes, some already anticipating their next visit.
"You're lucky you live nearby," I overheard one say to his dinner companion. Buon appetito, indeed.
// Pasta Supply Co. is open for retail daily from 10am (9am on Sundays) and dinner service daily from 5pm to 9pm; 236 Clement St. (Inner Richmond), pastasupplyco.com.
(Courtesy of Pasta Supply Co.)