Pastosa Ravioli:

7 Jun

A Look at Cultural Businesses in New York Neighborhoods

     The Pastosa Ravioli franchise was originally an entrepreneurial food quality venture started in 1967 by Anthony G. Ajello, Tony or T.A. to his friends. Previously a Salesman for Polly-O cheeses, Anthony saw restaurants,catering businesses, and Italian food stores creating ravioli, manicotti, stuffed shells, and other dishes with what he’d always describe as ‘low grade’ ricotta and machine made mozzarella. Finding a business niche in producing lots of these foods, he knew customers would prefer his ravioli over the competition. After settling down in his new location in beautiful, bustling Bensonhurst on New Utrecht and 75th, his imported ravioli and pasta machines (and great location) made business boom. From serving shelves of imported goods along with quality meats and cheeses, handmade mozzarella, and fresh pastas to New Utrecht, Anthony began delivering to restaurants and stores all over Brooklyn, and later the other five boroughs.

Nowadays, that store produces tons of pastas and between the production of the ‘ravs, manis, and shells’ the store runs through 10,000 lbs of Ricotta every week, making about a hundred mixes per week using a hundred pounds of ricotta with each batch. Aside from exporting all over the tri-state area, Pastosa ships all over the nation, often sending boxes of ravioli across the country to give people the food they’ve grown up with, often in Italian-American communities in Nevada and Florida. Despite the store’s huge quantity of production, it still serves the community with varieties of imported goods: pastas, cheeses, tomatoes, cookies, oils, and stove-top coffee pots, to name a few. The area has fruit markets and grocers to provide general foods at cheap prices, keeping the New Utrecht headquarters a specialty foods store appealing to neighborhood Italian-Americans and anyone who wants great Italian foods.

One particular location on Staten Island, has diversified to meet the needs of a much more suburban area. Sitting on 1076 Richmond Road, this location offers pastas, deli specialties, meats, cheeses, and imported goods just like nearly all other Pastosa locations, but has opened its own produce section and an extended refrigerated section, stocking its own butcher’s meats, gelato and yogurt pints and  fruit sorbets, seafoods, and frozen vegetables. This location acts as the neighborhood’s grocer, as there are few nearby places to shop, making Pastosa a very convenient one-stop shop for many customers, both Italian-Americans eating familiar food and local homeowners. Wary not to lose any authenticity, mozzarella and many other counter staples are made and cooked by hand daily The store is large enough to be able to produce its own ravioli, manicotti, and stuffed shells, which it sends to island’s other two Pastosa stores. One of these stores, on Forest Avenue, was previously a small shop which didn’t have the same conditions. Rather than being in a rather secluded neighborhood, it is on one of the island’s busiest roads, with conditions and service similar to New Utrecht’s more urban neighborhoods. It only caters to serve deli foods and Italian specialties.

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