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You don’t have to visit a restaurant to get truly excellent pasta in Philadelphia. Kensington outfit The Pasta Lab offers its hand-crafted wares at farmer’s markets around the city or to pick up right where its made.
Working out of a shared warehouse space in Kensington, Chris Wright and Gina Rubinetti produce about 1,200 pounds of the stuff each month, all made from locally-grown Pennsylvania wheat.
Freshly milled whole grains provide the satisfying texture and flavor of Pasta Lab creations, which come in a rotating selection of more than 30 shapes. These include traditional Italian noodles — tagliatelle, rigatoni, paccheri, pappardelle — as well as exquisitely shaped, hand-filled egg doughs in styles like ravioli and cappelletti.
Wright and Rubinetti source almost all ingredients from Philadelphia and Lancaster County. Essentials include eggs from family-owned farm Horseshoe Ranch in Fredericksburg, sheep’s milk cheese from farmstead creamery Otterbein Acres in Newburg, and Genovese-by-way-of-Philadelphia pesto from Anna Maria Loves Pesto.
It takes 15 to 20 hours each week to fabricate the filled pastas, which are stuffed with ever-changing combinations. A recent version of cappelletti featured Indian lime pickle, St. Malachi cheese, coppa, and pastured pork. Another popular combo: eggplant skin ash ravioli stuffed with Caputo Bros. provola cheese.
To create the extruded noodles, the Pasta Lab uses bronze dies. These metal plates are what the dough is pushed through, with the size and style of its holes determining the shape of each end product. To use these tools is both a science and an art form; Wright and Rubinetti maneuver each 5-lb. die to produce pasta with a surface that’s hard to find outside of Italy. Its rough-textured exterior allows more sauce to adhere to its surface area, creating a full-flavored finished dish.
The Pasta Lab is also producing a rotating variety of ready-to-heat sauces and dressings. Keep an eye out for the heavenly bolognese, or the lightly smoked cultured butter made with cream from Seven Stars Farm in Phoenixville.
It’s all available to order online for pick up, or at the following weekly farmer’s markets (arrive early for the best selection):
- Clark Park: Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Rittenhouse Square: Saturdays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (except the first weekend of the month)
- Headhouse: Sundays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Christ Church: Every other Wednesday 3 to 6 p.m.
- Chestnut Hill Outdoor Market: First Saturday of each month 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.