The aroma of freshly baked bread wafted through Durum Pasta in Lynn on a recent morning as shoppers chatted, waiting in line as they shopped for dinner. With its cases displaying house-made cheese ravioli, fresh and frozen pasta, sauces, and prepared dishes, and signs proclaiming everything is 100 percent organic, the bright little shop is an unusual sight on gritty Eastern Avenue. But Al Giorgio, one of the owners, thinks things might be starting to change. The reception to the shop, which opened in mid-September, he says, has been enthusiastic. “The bread sells out every day,” he says, and it’s been difficult to keep up with the demand for prepared foods. “Word of mouth travels pretty well,” he adds.
The fresh and frozen pasta comes in many shapes, and there are also gluten-free varieties. Besides cheese ravioli, filled pastas might include a changing menu of pumpkin or lobster ravioli, tortellini, and gnocchi. Sauces include tomato, pesto, and al forno, and there’s olive bread and ciabatta. The menu of prepared foods also changes often with chicken and eggplant parmesans, sausage and peppers, and cheese and pepperoni pizzas by the slice. The shop sells imported olive oils, canned tomatoes, and several types of organic flours, including sometimes difficult to find Tipo 00 for making pizzas.
Giorgio’s Durum Pasta may be new, but the family, with origins in Southern Italy and Sicily, has long been in the food business; its restaurant, La Famiglia Giorgio, has been an institution on Salem Street in Boston’s North End for almost 30 years. Al Giorgio, who owns Durum Pasta with his parents, said the idea for the retail shop started when they needed more space to produce homemade pasta for the restaurant, Driving through Lynn, they saw the building, formerly a meat market, for sale, and bought it. Now they produce 5,000 pounds of pasta in Lynn to sell both at the restaurant and in the shop. Although they had been making their pasta with 100 percent organic flour for a while, a retail shop was a way to highlight that, he said.
Durum Pasta is very much a family affair. Giorgio’s cousin, Lisa Silva, works the cash register. His mother, Maryann, makes the prepared foods, he says, as his father, also Al Giorgio, oversees. The younger Al’s wife, Chrissy, does desserts and some of the baking.
A few days after Durum Pasta opened, four women chatted as they stood in line. One said she had been in the shop twice that day, and another commented she used to make her own meatballs but “I got lazy,” and Durum’s are a fine substitute. Giorgio says the lines have been long on weekends, proving his hunch that there was room for a retail concept in the neighborhood. “We’re bringing the North End to the North Shore,” he says.