Fresh pasta made with love and tradition
While it can be easy to focus on the big cities as the centres of culinary excellence in Australia, it’s often the case that unlikely towns are producing some of the best quality food.
In Anna Bay, a small town in Port Stephens, a long-standing pasta company has become a bit of a local secret, beloved for its flavoursome, fuss-free pasta dishes.
We’re talking about Pasta di Porto, the unassuming shop tucked into Anna Bay’s small shopping strip that also happens to be the most awarded pasta company in Australia’s prestigious Sydney Royal Fine Food Show, entering from 2010 to present.
A small boutique family business owned by Domenica Fedele and Peter Toth, Pasta di Porto began back in 2009 as a way for Domenica to pursue her passion for cooking, and for Peter to try a career change.
“I always loved cooking, and my kids would tell me I should do something with it, so I guess it was just about pursuing my passion and sticking with it,” Domenica said.
She and Peter started Pasta di Porto while they were living in Sydney, before making the move to Anna Bay and entering their first Sydney Royal Fine Food Show in 2010.
Pasta di Porto has entered every show since, and has been awarded seven championships, one Best in Show, and almost 200 medals across Gold, Silver, and Bronze.
It’s a testament to the hard work and dedication that goes into making Pasta di Porto’s pasta, and a way for Domenica to honour the traditions of her family.
Domenica’s family hails from Reggio Calabria in southern Italy, and it’s this heritage that is at the heart of her cooking for Pasta di Porto.
“My heritage is from southern Italy and my passion is to continue with the family traditions instilled in me by my papa and mama. so they can continue to live on through the generations,” she said.
Several of Pasta di Porto’s filled pasta flavours, such as Veal Osso Buco, Duck Ragu, and Pea and Pancetta are directly inspired by dishes her parents used to cook when she was a child.
Domenica’s cooking is inspired by la cucina povera (which literally translates to ‘poor kitchen’), which is the food poor Italians in post-war Italy would cook, making the most of the simple ingredients they had.
At Pasta di Porto, this concept shines through as Domenica aims to make simple food that’s easy for people to prepare. She says anyone can make delicious family meals using a few ingredients – either seasonal produce, or what’s on hand in your pantry.
With just a small team of five family members, Pasta di Porto provides pasta not just to the local community, but to restaurants across the region.
If you’ve eaten pasta at Little Beach Boathouse in Nelson Bay, Market St Basement in Newcastle, or Esca at Bimbadgen in Pokolbin, then you’ve already tried some of Pasta di Porto’s goodness. You can also find Pasta di Porto's products stocked in stores in Newcastle, the Hunter Valley, the Central Coast, and as far as Brisbane.
When you head to Pasta di Porto’s store in Anna Bay, you’ll also find takeaway coffee and Italian sweets like cannoli – we wouldn’t blame you for leaving with your hands full.
Domenica says that while making traditional southern Italian pasta products for customers near and far is the core of her and Peter’s business, she’d love to run local cooking classes one day.
“I’d love to do that, for people who are really pressed for time and still want fresh food.”
Even if Domenica shared her multi-award winning cooking techniques and recipes, we’re still sure we’d keep coming back to Pasta di Porto for more.