At Monica’s Pasta Shop in the North End, strands of handmade pasta fill a display case —
silky linguine; textured chitarra; thick spaghetti-like bucatini with its hollow center; pale red tomato fettuccine. There’s capellini, pappardelle, and gnocchi; plump raviolis stuffed with chicken, asparagus, and fontina or prosciutto with ricotta. These are some of the offerings at the store that recently opened on Richmond Street, the latest venture from Jorge Mendoza, the chef and owner of the restaurant Vinoteca di Monica next door, where the pasta room produces up to 200 pounds of the starch every day. Mendoza was stirred to open the shop as an effort to recapture a bit of the feel of the neighborhood when years ago the streets were lined with grocers and butchers. “We live in an Italian-American neighborhood without a real pasta shop,” he says. “We had some but now they’re gone.” Mendoza’s brothers, Frank and Pat, run two other North End businesses — Trattoria di Monica on Prince Street and the market Monica’s Mercato & Salumeria on Salem. The family immigrated three decades ago to Boston from Argentina and lived in the North End. It was Mendoza’s Italian mother, Monica, he says, who taught him to care about food and inspired his passion for cooking. “I’ve been cooking since I’m 6. By the age of 8 or 9 I was making cutlets.” Here you’ll also find homey sauces straight from the restaurant’s kitchen — Bolognese, ragu, and marinara — and the beloved lasagna, chicken cutlets, and other prepared foods. There’s a small selection of cheeses and meats as well as some Italian specialty grocery items. If you want tips and advice about ingredients and cooking instructions, don’t hesitate to ask Mendoza if you see him meandering around the cozy shop. He’s more than happy to share. 141 Richmond St., Boston.
ANN TRIEGER KURLAND