Plenty of people trek into the city from Fairfield County to try top restaurants or visit their favorite Italian markets. Not many make a reverse culinary commute. But one family travels from Manhattan every weekend for their standing lunch reservation at Il Pastaficio in the Mill Pond Shopping Center. What’s the draw? The freshest hand-made pasta and authentic regional dishes you won’t find elsewhere. The husband, who is Italian, brings his wife and two-year-old son to Pastaficio simply because they love the pasta and have made Sunday lunches there a family tradition.
“They say they have never tasted pasta like this,” says Pastaficio owner Federico Perandin. For Federico, who moved from Italy to Greenwich in 2016 with wife, Anissa, and pursued his passion of opening an artisanal food business, this family’s loyalty is the ultimate endorsement. “They are willing to drive an hour every week to eat here.”
Another Italian native, the chef for Ferrari U.S., who appears regularly on Italian national television, also frequents Il Pastaficio and hosted his team’s Christmas lunch in this petite eatery.
The pasta market and restaurant has gained such a following since its opening in 2018 that Federico has expanded into Westport, recently opening a second Pastaficio, and he has secured space for a third location in Darien.
When you walk into the Greenwich eatery, the aroma of a Bolognese sauce simmering scents the air. Sauces and pastas as well as desserts are made fresh daily. There are several ways to enjoy it all. You can bring home fresh pasta and sauce from the refrigerated cases (it takes just a few minutes to cook), order one of the entrées to go or eat in and bring your own wine or other drinks.
There are only two large tables plus outdoor café seating in Greenwich, but the Westport location seats forty and has an expanded menu with fish and meat entrees, and vegetable sides and a full bar. In Greenwich some regulars stop in every week for the same type of pasta, whether lasagna Bolognese or ravioli tartufo, while others come to explore different flavors and specialties.
Federico, who has an advertising background and once worked on the Girod’ Italia race (Italian equivalent of the Tour de France), offers his own tour of Italian regions through his food that represents Northern, Central and Southern Italy as well as Sicily and Sardinia. Sicily is known for its eggplant and ricotta salata, and he will serve Pasta la Norma with fried eggplant, tomato sauce, basil and imported ricotta salata.
In Northern Italy in the Veneto region, a popular pasta consists of long, thick noodles made with eggs and grappa called bigoli; this variety holds sauces very well. Fresh homemade sauces include pomodoro, ragu, amatriciana, cacio e pepe, pesto and puttanesca as well as twists on classics such as the hearty wild boar Bolognese. Because the pasta here is made daily with special flours from Italy (10 varieties are used depending on the type of pasta) and no preservatives, many people who have gluten sensitivity find that they’re able to indulge in food from the regular menu. But Pastaficio’s team also produces gluten-free pasta daily using legume flours of chickpea, beans, lentil and peas. It’s higher in protein than regular pasta and delicious. Some of the pasta is made with ancient grains, rich in vitamins and also lower in glycemic level, so it’s lighter and easier to digest.
Dessert lovers will appreciate the creations of the dedicated pastry chef who has impressive credentials and was previously head pastry chef at a three-star Michelin restaurant in Florence. Tiramisu and crostata (baked tart) are among the coveted treats as well as a special “salame di cioccolato.” Shaped like a whole salame, this fudgy delicacy blends Italian cookies, butter, egg yolks, sugar, Belgian cocoa and dark rum and gets sliced into rounds, an elegant alternative to cake.
With everything made fresh, in-house everyday, the temptations at Il Pastaficio abound. There’s a case of Figo gelato inside Pastaficio, so you can bring home pints to go with your meal. Events are part of the mix at Pastaficio, too: Book both tables in Greenwich to hold a private party for your group (BYOB). In Westport, Mondays and Tuesdays are dedicated to pasta-making classes taught by Federico. In the future, Federico and Anissa plan to host an upscale trip to Italy, visiting Bologna—the inspiration for Pastaficio—along with Modena, Parma, Verona, Padua and Venezia. Meanwhile, people can experience true Italian food right here. Says Federico, “My real goal is that people can feel, eat and live like in Italy for an hour or two.”