Image source: Nancy Ruhling via Huffington Post
Nancy Ruhling over on Huffington Post wrote a story about the people behind Cassinelli, the fresh pasta factory on a quiet avenue in Astoria. They are known for their delicious pasta – ravioli to penne – but also for their unorthodox hours. Nancy pins them down – “Astoria’s only pasta maker is closed on Sundays and Mondays, and even when it’s open, its front-window gate is rolled down for 30 minutes at lunchtime and again at 3:30 in the afternoon.” If you’ve walked by and never seen it open, you might not even realize they do have business hours.
Tony Bonfigli and Nella Costella are the owners (they are not married) and have been at the pasta business at Cassinelli for over 50 years. Tony came over from Italy when he was 13 (1956) and Nella arrived in 1951 (she’s 8 years older than Tony, so she was 21). After she had her first child she worked part time at the factory. She and Tony bought Cassinelli from the owners in 1972.
The company, started by Peter and Adele Cassinelli, has been around since 1912, first in Manhattan, then New Jersey, and finally Astoria after the Great Depression. The factory makes a variety of pasta shapes – cappeletti, cappelloini, fettuccine, fusilli, rigatoni, and tagliolini. There’s also filled pastas liked tortellini and ravioli. They also make pasta sheets.
The factory has a staff of eight people, and they make between 3,000 and 4,000 pounds of pasta a week. Most of it is sold to “prime retailers and premier restaurants” around the city. They also sell pasta from their storefront on 23rd Ave. You can also pick up jars of pasta and amaretto cookies there, too.
Astoria Characters: The Pasta Pair [Huffington Post]