OLD SAYBROOK – A wheat fresco by local artist Jaime La Jones covers the walls of Pasta and Gargano’s Italian Market, which opens today, 28 July.
“This is a chef-driven company,” says co-owner Lani Gargano, who says the mural is a reminder of the Gargano family’s love for food, especially pasta.
Lani and her husband, chef Joel Gargano, have Grano Arso – translated as “burnt oats” – at Chester, a renowned award-winning restaurant. Their new venture is markets and cafes where customers buy food at the counter to eat at home or to go.
“Joel and I were like, ‘if we decide to do another business, it’s going to be driven by food. But it can’t be another fancy restaurant like Grano. It must be something else,’” Lani told the CT Examiner.
On the menu are a variety of salads, antipasti and sandwiches. Recommended for the CT Examiner is the roasted rye pappardelle, served with braised lamb ragu, rosemary, kale and smoked ricotta sauce – described as “reminiscent of beef stroganoff,” by general manager Ed Jones, a chef of nearly 20 years.
After ordering, customers can head to the “pasta lab” at the end of the market and watch the chefs make pasta from scratch.
Latte, espresso and cappuccino are offered at the coffee bar. The market includes supplies such as olive oil and bottled honey along with Italian specialty products such as formaggi, salumi and candied orange peel.
Joel’s father, another Gargano, a baker for 30 years, would make all the breads and pastries.
Lani also employs her uncle as a restaurant contractor.
“Everything you see from the detailed finish to the foundation, everything is meticulously put together and it all comes from the Gargano family,” he said.
The couple’s owners recommended they rent a place in Old Saybrook and they’ve been working on it for two years, slowed by the pandemic, and, on a happier note, the birth of their first child.
“This is 1,000 square feet of love and hard work,” Lani said.
Gargano Pasta & Italian Market will celebrate its grand opening on 28 July. The operating hours are 07:30 to 17:00 from Tuesday to Sunday.