The type of businesses I love to feature on Girls on Food is family-owned businesses where the food is so tasty, that they’ve earned an opportunity to expand and are on the brink of something bigger. Pasta Sisters in Los Angeles embodies just that- their dine-in deli and pasta shop is growing into a second, and much larger, location in Culver City this coming Fall.
While I eagerly await their future 90 seat Culver City location to open in the Helms Bakery (it’ll be walking distance from me!) I decided to stop into their main shop on W. Pico Blvd. and try the famous spaghetti dishes I’ve been reading so much about over the past two years.
3343 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019
Their current location, in an unassuming strip mall, is small, but it gets packed! I came in on a weekday around 4 pm, all the tables were full, and there was a line for the to-go food. As I was taking images of the interior, a regular customer of theirs was curious to know what I was photographing. I told her about the write-up, and she let me know that Pasta Sisters supplies their pasta to a nearby school on Fridays for their lunches. This may have been the first time I was impressed with a restaurant for doing good before I tasted just how good the food was.
The Executive Chef and the driving force behind Pasta Sisters is Paola Da Re, mother to Francesco Sinatra, the Manager, and Giorgia Sinatra, the Creative Director and sister to Luisa Da Re, Pastry Chef.
Paola’s family grew up in a small Northern Italian town called Padova, and she fondly remembers helping her mother make gnocchi, a skill that would land her her first professional cooking gig, years later.
Although Paola doesn’t have formal training in the culinary arts, her cooking comes from her mother, Maria Giovanna’s, two hand-written diaries, which the family still treasures to this day.
Years later, Paola, Francesco, Giorgia, and Luisa relocated to Los Angeles. Paola started working for a family as a nanny, and when the parents tried her pasta, they started to hire her for family dinners.
Then, her big break finally happened. Giorgia was working as a waitress in an LA restaurant (who’s name we won’t mention), and during an employee tasting of this restaurant’s new gnocchi, the manager noticed Giorgia winced after one bite. He asked what was wrong with it and Giorgia politely informed him her mothers was so much better. (talk about a #sorrynotsorry!)
This restaurant allowed Paola to come in and sample three different versions of her gnocchi. The restaurant instantly fell in love with them. This restaurant brought her onto staff as their resident gnocchi-maker.
After her first taste of the restaurant industry, she finally opened Pasta Sisters. This retail shop and deli originally intended to serve as a pasta shop with takeaway items. They started with one table and one counter, but from the word-of-mouth popularity in LA, have since grown into over 15 seats and focused on creating a more fast-casual pasta menu.
According to Giorgia, “We’re trying to grow slow, we’d rather take baby steps. We want to stick with a home made quality and not feel corporate. Taking care of the product is a priority before becoming huge.”
And let me tell you, you can taste the homemade freshness in each bite! This is simple Italian cooking at it’s finest.
All customers start with a serving of fresh Focaccia Bread, airy and light, perfect for dipping into the sauces.
I started out this tasting with the paper thin Bresola Carpaccio, air dried salted beef carpaccio with arugula and shaved Parmigiano. This is probably the thinnest carpaccio I’ve ever had! It’s such a lovely lighter way to start a filling meal.
The first pasta I tried was the Fresh Spaghetti with Pesto alla Genovese. The pasta is made every morning with Italian flour and organic eggs, and you can taste the freshness in each bite. The pesto sauce, with basil, Parmigiano, and Roman pecorino, is a little lighter on the garlic which allows the flavor of the pine nuts to shine through.
The Fresh Spaghetti Bottarga was my favorite pasta. This is made with dry Sardinian mullet eggs, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil. Although the aroma of the dish is bold and a little fishy, the flavor actually quite delicate.
Pasta Sisters will be at this year’s LA Food Fest. I got a sneak peek and tasted the Homemade Gnocchi with Arribbiata they’ll be serving for the famous #stretchypants festival. After one bite of the gnocchi, I could taste how this whole business began. Paola’s gnocchi is like perfect little potato pillows; they’re the softest on the inside I’ve ever had. The arribbiata sauce provides a kick, and although I usually order gnocchi with a creamier sauce, this is an excellent way to mix it up.
I knew I had carb-overloaded, but I still had to try Luisa’s Chocolate and Ricotta Pie. The crust is an Italian pie crust called “pasta frolla”, it’s similar to a shortbread. It’s sweeter and little bit more crumbly than traditional pie crust. The creaminess of the ricotta and the dark chocolate flavor make this pie a winner in my book.
One item I have to look forward to for next time is the Sfogliatelle; this is the one item they import from Naples in the shop. This flaky puff pastry stuffed with ricotta and candied citrus looks incredible, but I was too stuffed!
This location is currently open Monday – Fridays, 11:30 AM – 7:30 PM and Saturdays, 11:30 AM – 3:30 PM, they are closed on Sundays. Peak hours are lunch and early dinner.
I cannot wait until they open right by my house in Culver City! I know Pasta Sisters is going to flourish as a business and I’m excited to see what happens next!