Amaranto Pasta and Cucina - Authentic Italian In New Ways
Pasta-lovers on the Matakana Coast will be pleased to know there’s a new Italian eatery in town! But it’s not a traditional Italian restaurant – it’s a refitted 1966 caravan found at selected spots around the region.
Luisa Pollio and Tommaso Baldassarri started Amaranto only three weeks ago, selling both ready-to-eat takeaway meals and fresh handmade pasta, for customers to cook themselves. They began at the Matakana Village Farmers Market and were overwhelmed with the response.
“We sold out completely before midday,” Luisa says. “We love selling there. It's a great vibe. Early in the morning you get the locals, and later come the Aucklanders who are really interested in the products and love meeting the producers.”
They have chosen to keep their pasta completely gluten-free.
“We have worked for years perfecting the recipe, with a mix of seven alternative flours. We are using mostly organic, seasonal ingredients to bring out the best flavours. It’s not the traditional way, but our flavours are authentic, and we have Italian customers who love our pasta,” Luisa says.
The ready-to-eat pasta changes weekly, with menus and locations posted on Amaranto’s Facebook page.
“My favourite is beef ravioli, served with tomato sauce, or with butter, lemon and sage. Tommy's favourite is Strozzapreti with creamy ragù. Both are served frequently from the caravan and at the market,” Luisa says.
She says the biggest challenge was setting up the caravan – it wasn’t easy to fit an entire commercial kitchen inside.
“Kitchen equipment is heavy, so you have to be mindful of where you put everything. A balance between a good workflow in the kitchen and still being able to tow it safely!”
The couple have come a long way since they left Italy six years ago, moving to Auckland on a whim.
“We were working too much in Italy, always feeling stressed and not having enough time together. Tommy was working with a chef who had a cousin in New Zealand and told him about this country, so we decided to be crazy and just go over. We didn’t think it over, we just did it!” Luisa says.