The SoNo Marketplace—with its hive of local food purveyors, artisans, weekly farmers’ market, and plans for a summer beer garden—may be best argument to never set foot inside a supermarket again. I was recently lured back to the Marketplace by the opening of PastaPresta, a new fresh pasta vendor anchoring the entrance of the market’s vast 50,000 square-feet.
One evening of fresh pasta and market nibbles, and a closer look at the people behind the market later, I was reminded why this culinary hub deserves a regular visit and why, despite its recent vilification, gluten is good (maybe great).
Open since December 2012, The Marketplace continues to evolve into a supportive community for the area’s unique food purveyors. Modeled after a european marketplace, its 50 merchants (not all food based) include well-known names such as Chocopologie, Olivette, Bloom Brothers, and Festivities Catering as well as newcomers such as Wise Guys Pasta Sauce, Pecan Patti, and Pasta Presta. These are small businesses, sourcing local ingredients, employing our community, and are playing an increasingly important role contributing to the diversity of our thriving food scene.
Case in point: The newly opened PastaPresta.
The brainchild of husband and wife team Bill and Meri Erickson from New Canaan, PastaPresta offers fresh, hand-made pasta Friday through Sunday. PastaPresta relies on fresh and local ingredients, and its Pastation, a combination pastamaker, ravioli maker and sheet cutter is the only one of its kind in the U.S. Egg, spinach and wholegrain pasta in addition to weekly special flavors such as heirloom tomato and squid ink can be cut on the spot into a variety of lengths and shapes. Think linguini, pappardelle and buccatini as well as gigli and casarecce.
Having tasted the pasta both under the care of Marketplace chef de cuisine Walter Rivalsi and from my home kitchen, it would be hard if not impossible to return to the dry pasta of my local super market shelves. When cooked al dente, nothing beats the delicate “eggy” flavors of fresh pasta which is best paired with delicate sauces or no sauces at all. Exemplifying this, Chef Rivalsi prepared PastaPresta’s three cheese egg ravioli with a simple and fresh marinara sauce from WiseGuys. A nest of the deep purple-gray squid ink linguini, benefits from a simple and light cream sauce (try Ronnybrook Dairy Farm cream. And of course, simplest is nearly always best. At home, we prepared the fresh egg pasta with a drizzle of olive oil, parmigiano reggiano, and sprig of basil.
The Erickson’s are long-time Fairfield County residents and gourmands who have spent several years living abroad before returning to New Canaan. Their appreciation for the daily ritual of shopping for fresh ingredients while living in Paris, drew them to the Marketplace as a home for their culinary venture. The couple, and occasionally one of their three sons, are likely to be found manning the Pastation and offering recommendations based on their weekly specials. “Besides the theater of watching us make our fresh pasta, and discovering what new tastes will be showcased each week, we hope that our customers will come by often to chat, and connect and to share the marketplace experience we so enjoyed everyday in Europe,” said Meri.
PastaPresta and its cadre of culinary-minded neighbors such as Wise Guys, Olivette, Bloom Brothers, Green Leaf Bakery and Café are just a few of the reasons I plan on being a regular at the Marketplace.