Each week we feature a local business. Today we sat down with Gregory Baratte, co-founder of the Hello Pasta chain, to talk about his new Lower Manhattan restaurant.
How many types of pasta do you serve?
We serve six pastas: traditional farfalle (bow tie shape), rigatoni, and spaghetti. We also serve whole wheat fusilli, gluten-free penne, and organic fusilli
What’s your most popular pasta?
The spaghetti and, believe it or not, our whole-wheat fusilli! There are two categories of pasta-lovers in our restaurant: those looking for a traditional taste of Italy, and those who love our healthier options—not only the pastas themselves, but also the sauces. We offer many options with low calories, low sodium and low fat.
What’s the least traditional/most unusual dish?
Probably our tuna Provencal. It’s a very creative sauce for pasta, and it’s popular in Europe. Many of our customers love it.
How many pounds of pasta do you serve each day?
Are you considering any new menu items in the near future?
Yes. This week we’re adding an exciting range of antipasti choices, and are currently working to bring raviolis and tortellinis to the menu. And I can give you a piece of exclusive information: Because of popular demand, we will add a selection of paninis in March! And we’ll offer a great range of gelatos by summer 2011.
Are the sauces prepared on site or off?
Our sauces are prepared by our chef in our kitchen in Maine, then dispatched in our restaurants.
Is the pasta homemade?
No, but we work with one of the best pasta-makers in Italy. So we import our pasta.
Where do you get your ingredients?
Our chef is from Maine, so we try to use as many local Maine ingredients as possible. We also import selected products from Italy when we cannot find them locally.
Usually pasta in NYC is thought of as a sit-down affair. Is this the start of a new lunchtime trend in the city?
We hope so! We’re aware that it will take time. But we conduct weekly surveys with customers and regularly receive a satisfaction rate of more than 80 percent. The business is growing, as is word of mouth. Our customers tell us that they’re more used to eating burgers, sandwiches and burritos for lunch, but are happy to see something different available. It always takes a little while to win hearts and minds, and we’re working hard and with passion to do just that.
125 Maiden Lane