Cassinelli in Astoria: the history of Italian pasta in New York

Jul 29 2019, 07:34 | by Michela Becchi
The oldest Italian pasta factory in Astoria, New York, invites customers to closely observe the pasta production process. Here's the story of Cassinelli.

Astoria is known as the "Greek quarter", a multi-nationality neighborhood that is also famous for its many top-level restaurants. But in Astoria, Queens, among local Chinese cuisine, Greek coffee and exotic tables, Italian fresh pasta has long found its niche.

Cassinelli: Italian pasta in New York

Cassinelli, a true legend in the neighborhood and beyond, was born in 1912 in Manhattan, then moved to New Jersey and finally, in the '30s, to Astoria. A small workshop with an old machine that makes fresh spaghetti and other traditional Italian shapes, daily.

Cassinelli: the quality of Italian pasta

Nowadays, customers also have the opportunity to take a look at the kitchen and watch the owners forming, manipulating and stretching the dough. Over a hundred years of history, it's correct to say it: over time, this shop of delights has managed to preserve the spirit of the beginnings and the high quality of the products.

The story of Nella Costella

That same "home-made" genuine philosophy, with a taste of the past that is now––at a time when shops dedicated to fresh pasta are on the rise in the Big Apple––becoming even more precious. The same originally put into practice by Nella Costella, a young mother who emigrated––like many other Italians––in 1957 with few hopes and no knowledge of English. Evening language courses and lots of good will lead her to approach the then owners of the pasta shop, Peter and Adele Cassinelli, who offered her a part-time job.

Italian pasta in New York, from restaurants to homemakers

Fifty years later, Costella became the co-owner with Cassinelli, along with Tony Bonfigli, another migrant of the 1950s. Today, the oldest New York-based pasta factory serves high-end restaurants in busy Manhattan, in addition to the most demanding customers: Italian-American grandmothers.

Italian pasta in New York: ravioli and bucatini

The shop produces about 1,800 kilos of pasta a day, including classic spaghetti, bucatini, rigatoni and linguine with cuttlefish ink, as well as a vast array of stuffed pastas such as ricotta and spinach ravioli or agnolotti filled with ground meat. Customers can also buy the rolled out dough to be cut or stuffed at home.

The clientèle

Even today, there are many Italian expats living in the United States who choose to stop by Cassinelli to find the flavours of their home land, and more and more Americans and foreigners are approaching authentic Italian cuisine thanks to their pasta. This is a piece of Italian history in America, which over 100 years after its birth continues to reap success.

Cassinelli Food Products – Astoria (NY) - 23rd Avenue -

by Michela Becchi

cross linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram