Chris Macchia, executive chef/partner at Nonnina in Chicago (part of the team behind Chicago’s well-loved Piccolo Sogno), is taking pasta on the menu to another level with a tableside show and tell that’s usually reserved for aged cuts of beef.
Diners keen to learn more about the difference between maccheroni or pappardelle are in luck. Alongside “grandma-inspired” meatballs, classic fritto misto and wood-oven-baked clams, diners find some Italian terms describing all the fresh housemade pasta that may be unfamiliar.
“We felt people might be intimidated to order something if they don’t know what it is…just glance right over it on the menu,” Macchia says. It's also a marketing move to showcase the fresh pasta and generate dining-room buzz. “People love to see it, and they love to know that we make it here. It’s a sales tactic.”
The one downside to the pasta tray: Some customers want to mix and match the pasta, sometimes against the better judgment of the kitchen. Luckily, that isn’t happening too often.
All in all, Macchia says the pasta tray has been a success, especially for those diners who “want to know a little more detail.”