Featured Entrepreneurs

How to Grow an Artisanal Pasta Business

Meet local pastaio Matt Ruzga. Matt owns Porta Rossa Pasta & Provisions, a shop that started in our shared commercial kitchen as an artisanal pasta delivery service.

Matt’s story begins during the pandemic. After spending years mastering his craft at the best Italian restaurants in NYC, Matt suddenly found himself at home. The Covid quarantine, however, freed him from the hustle of running professional kitchens. Away from places like Marta, Del Posto, the Fox & Falcon, he found time to dream about a business of his own.

Access to Commercial Kitchen Turns Dream into Reality

After rolling pasta and simmering sauces at home, he joined Garden State Kitchen and made his business a reality. He started sending weekly emails to customers to sell his food. When orders and quantities came in, he shopped for ingredients and booked just the right amount of kitchen hours. In one of our catering kitchens, he prepped, packed, and rolled out for delivery.

Matt also used our shared cooking space to work out kinks and scale up. Because he didn’t have to pay high monthly membership fees, or cover utilities or insurance, he could experiment without taking on a lot of risk. Paying only for storage and kitchen time meant he could fold profits back into his business. This cost savings, along with a successful crowdfunding campaign, gave him enough to open a place of his own.

Business is Booming

Today, Porta Rossa (yes, with a red door) stands as a specialty grocery store where Matt sells local and imported products. He still simmers sauces and rolls pasta into traditional shapes that tell a story beyond typical grocery store shelves – and he’s still growing his concept. He constantly creates delicious new items for his customers. Fresh herbed focaccia waits on the counter and there’s a daily selection of hand-spun gelato to choose from. A small list of sandwiches evolved into a full lunch menu – along with a need for more seating. This spring brings even more growth. A new outdoor dining patio will welcome diners when the weather is nice.

Evening Dinners + Special Events

Though Porta Rossa is open mainly during the day, Matt has ventured into some evening activities. He recently led an after hours pasta-making class, sharing his love of the craft. He’s also hosted exclusive dinners in conjuction with a local wine shop which provided pairings. ‘An Evening in Abruzzo’ took diners on a flavorful trip from the mountains to the sea, just east of Rome.

True to Italian Roots

While Porta Rossa’s offering keeps expanding Matt stays true to his roots. He still makes small batch pasta the old fashioned way, focusing on technique and context. Every shape tells a story of place and time in Italian history. Some require custom extruders or are cut by hand. Others he stuffs with fresh cheese or ingredients available only for a moment in the season. All are available by the pound to take home and enjoy.

If you drop in (and we think you should) please say hello! And if you’re looking for a way to grow your dream food business, we have a kitchen ready for you too. Come take a tour.


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