Edible Tastings: Deano's Pasta, Somerville
Photos by Michael Piazza
If you’ve bought fresh ravioli or tortellini in a supermarket or specialty grocer, including many Boston-area Whole Foods, you’ve likely tried Deano’s Pasta from East Somerville. Hidden in plain sight on a side street tucked between Broadway and Route 93, this third-generation, family-owned pasta factory cranks out hundreds of pounds of fresh egg pasta every day, from scratch, for restaurants and grocers alike. Made exclusively of semolina, eggs, and salt, Deano’s pasta has a firmer texture than others made of durum wheat flour, leaving the noodles perfectly chewy and al dente after cooking.
Machines imported from Italy roll out and cut the pasta sheets for noodles and fill and seal the stuffed shapes, their specialty. Ravioli, tortelloni, cannelloni, agnolotti, luxuriously plump with lobster, shrimp, and scallops, wild mushrooms and ricotta, roasted pumpkin with amaretto, artichoke and mascarpone, or a classic three-cheese blend, are blast-chilled after filling then packaged. Short cuts are made on extruding machines, including a telephone cord-like fusilli, plump gemelli, and rolled cavatelli, looking every bit handmade once they’re tossed with semolina flour and gingerly packaged in plastic bags. They even make fresh sauces on the premises, pairing perfectly with the pastas: basil pesto, traditional marinara with garlic and basil, and their signature “Onesto” cream sauce, are flash-frozen in 1-pound tubs ready to reheat and serve.
But it’s the unusual ingredients in some of the long-cut pastas that separate Deano’s from your regular grocery store dried pastas: along with the typical spinach, tomato, and fresh egg tagliatelle, you’ll find noodles flavored with red chile, jalapeño, rosemary, sage, squid ink, and lemon-basil. Delicious when simply buttered and showered with grated cheese, these pastas can be the basis for some truly extraordinary dishes, deliciously different, and so much fun to eat!
Whole Wheat Fusilli
Nutty whole wheat flour is added to the semolina for a dense and chewy noodle well-suited to rich, meat-based sauces like duck ragù or shredded braised short ribs; these are the noodles that’ll stand up to caramelized onions, seared chicken livers, and bitter radicchio. For the simplest preparation, sizzle a spoonful of anchovy paste and a crushed clove of garlic in olive oil, then add cooked fusilli, a handful of toasted bread crumbs, and some fresh thyme. Serve cheeseless if you like, or sprinkle it generously with grated Pecorino Romano.
This is a classic but Deano’s version, made with loads of fresh spinach, is just more “spinach-y” than most. Try it tossed with sweet cream butter, slivers of smoked salmon, a dollop of crème fraiche, and grated lemon zest. Or use it as the basis of a green carbonara, redolent of crispy bacon, creamy eggs, and plenty of grated Pecorino. For a simple weeknight meal, boil in salted water and toss with butter, shaved ricotta salata, and minced chives.
More than half an inch wide and full of minced fresh rosemary, these are the broadest of Deano’s noodles, and they make a perfect bed for a light meat stew like blanquette de veaux or a white wine–braised lamb. For a simpler supper, toss cooked pappardelle with plenty of olive oil and grated cheese, then stir in a dollop of fresh ricotta and a handful of minced herbs.
Squid Ink Tagliatelle
Black as night and slightly saline, these noodles pair perfectly with seafood. Toss with garlicky steamed mussels and fresh parsley for a brilliant take on linguine with clams, or sauté cooked noodles in butter with slivered red chili and top with crème fraiche and salmon roe for an elegant meal.
Bright with floral jalapeño flavor, but not terribly hot on the tongue, these noodles are the perfect base for a non-traditional sauce. Try them Mexican-style and spice your ragù with cumin, chili powder, and lime; toss in the pasta and sprinkle with chopped cilantro and crumbly cotija cheese to serve.Or stir cooked fettucine into a peanut butter-tamari-sesame oil sauce with lots of garlic and ginger, chill to room temperature, and top with scallions, cucumber, and chopped peanuts for a different take on Chinese cold sesame noodles.
Red Chile Linguine
Skinny and tender but fiery red and quite spicy, pair these unusual noodles with sweet, butter-poached lobster or shrimp, some sautéed spinach, and a squeeze of lemon. Or diminish the heat with cubes of sugary roasted beets and creamy fresh goat cheese for a vibrant, hot pink dish. But the best way might just be the simplest: make a traditional pasta aglio e olio, sautéing boiled noodles with massive amounts of sliced garlic in olive oil and tossing with grated Parmigiano, minced fresh parsley, and an added pinch of red chili flakes for the spice lover at your table.
A great alternative to classic egg pasta, the delicate lemon and basil are enhanced with a lemony cream sauce and ribbons of fresh basil. Or, in summer, tip steaming hot pasta into a bowl of chopped garden tomatoes, slivered garlic, whole basil leaves, and cubes of fresh mozzarella. Toss in some sliced olives, a shower of Parmigiano Reggiano, and serve hot or at room temperature.
NOTE: Deano’s attends several local farmers markets, and delivers their pastas through Watershed to homes in the greater Boston area. They hope to open a retail-friendly shop in the future, but for now the best way to get the cut and flavor of pasta you want is to buy it direct from the factory store. All the products are sold frozen; drop frozen ravioli directly into boiling water, but allow the long and short cuts to defrost on the counter for 30 minutes before cooking.
Factory store hours are Mon–Fri from 8:30am to 4:30pm.
15 Garfield Ave, Somerville
This story appeared in the Spring 2015 issue.