1 May 2023

Nonna Maria's Pasta sets up shop in Mitchell

| Lucy Ridge
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Man in black tshirt standing in front of fridge with fresh pasta

Salvatore Costanzo is the owner and pasta-maker-in-chief at Nonna Maria’s Pasta. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

Nonna Maria’s Pasta has been a regular fixture at Canberra’s farmers markets for the last six or so years. They’ve now opened a brand new manufacturing location in Mitchell and are expanding their offerings.

Salvatore ‘Sal’ Costanzo is the man behind Nonna Maria’s Pasta, named, of course, after his grandmother Maria.

Sal grew up as one of nine siblings in Calabria, Italy, and learned to make pasta with his Mum and Grandmother. Moving to Australia in the 80s, he ran cafes around Canberra with his brother for many years before he began Nonna Maria’s.

It started as a hobby, which turned into a single market stall. Soon enough, he had wholesale customers, a second market stall and a whole new business to run. Nonna Maria’s has gone from a tiny homemade pasta side hustle to a business selling over 300 kilos of pasta a week.

Jars of arrabiata sauce

Sal sells house-made sauces to go with his pasta. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

He previously used space at the Barton Grocer to make his pasta but took the leap to set up his own small-scale kitchen in Mitchell in 2022.

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The new shop has a retail space where customers can buy fresh pasta to cook at home, house-made sauces and a few Italian staples like salami and passata. Sal has also started offering takeaway pasta for lunch. He chooses a few different varieties and sauces and keeps them warm for a quick grab-and-go lunch.

Fresh pasta in the fridge at Nonna Maria's pasta

Pick up some fresh pasta or a ready-made meal. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

It’s not fancy, but it’s comforting and delicious, and something of a flavour oasis in Mitchell’s fast food desert, especially on days when Sal serves up his traditional beef lasagna.

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This has also allowed Sal to experiment with new products and receive quick customer feedback. The week I visited he was trialling a new ravioli filling of peppery Italian sausage, served with a simple tomato sugo and parmesan.

Box of shortbread biscuits

Sal has expanded to making traditional Italian sweets. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

Now he also has space to make other Italian delicacies like a range of Italian shortbread biscuits: the almond flavour is the perfect accompaniment to a strong Italian coffee. He tells me that he plans to keep making more products. Next on the list is cannoli: a traditional Italian sweet made up of a cigar-shaped pastry and a flavoured cream filling.

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The new facility has also increased Sal’s capacity to make more gluten-free pasta and gnocchi.

coloured pasta bundles

Sal’s flavoured linguine is popular at the Capital Region Farmers Market. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

Some of Sal’s most popular pastas are the flavourful bundles of linguine flavoured with squid ink, parsley and garlic, beetroot, or saffron and chilli. He also makes ‘extruded’ pastas – which are pushed through a ‘die’ or mould to create different shapes, like casarecce and rigatoni.

His long relationships with the other stallholders at the EPIC Markets are still going strong: Ingelara potatoes go into the gnocchi, and he uses local eggs for the pasta. Keep an eye out for limited flavours when truffles are in season!

Nonna Maria’s Pasta is located at Unit 3/52 Heffernan Street, Mitchell. It’s open Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 2:30 pm.

They are also at Capital Region Farmers Markets at EPIC on Saturdays and the Southside Market in Phillip on Sundays. Pre-order pasta on their website; you can even organise home delivery. Follow Nonna Maria’s on Facebook or Instagram.

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Billy Monfries9:33 am 04 May 23

Heavily over priced for what is essentially peasant food.

Andrew McLaughlin12:35 pm 02 May 23

I know where I’m going on my next visit to Canberra!

Too right mate. Italian is the best food ever.

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