The Highland Park Landmark 110917
22 | November 9, 2017 | The highland park landmark dining out hplandmark.com Family tradition reigns supreme at Pastificio Xavier Ward, Editor Dream jobs are few and far between. For Pat Galli, however, her dream was self-made and rolled through the cylinders of a hand-crank pasta maker. Galli, owner of Pastificio, 122 Highwood Ave., Highwood, remembers graduating college and not having many job prospects. Frustrated with the stand-still job market, she suggested she and her mother open their own shop as she had often kicked around the idea of doing. She remembers her mother saying, “I didn’t sacrifice immigrating here and sending my oldest child to college to see her having to work really hard in the kitchen.” Then again, Galli said, what’s better than working for yourself? Pastificio is a take-home Northern Italian eatery. As you enter the shop, the unassuming facade gives way to the northern Italian assemblage that lies just beyond the door. There are rows of spices and artisan olive oils, a glass case full of all of the house-made pasta you can imagine, and a freezer section full of freshly prepared and recently frozen take-home dishes. The most noticeable feature of the store is the pasta case full of just about every pasta you can imagine, from squid-ink linguine to basil fettuccine. Editors from 22nd Century Media stopped by and sampled the fare. One of the most popular dishes, the meat lasagna, isn’t your standard frozen lasagna. We sampled the seasonal pumpkin pasta lasagna ($12.99 per pound), but Pastificio’s standard is always available. A veal tomato sauce smothered the layered Italian classic, and its savory tang was well balanced by the mild and melty Parmigiano-Reggiano filling. Pastificio sells its lasagna by the pound. A family-sized tray, 9-by-13 inches, typically comes out to $42 and feeds six to eight people. It’s also available in medium and individual sizes. Next up was the cappellacci ($12.99 per serving), a medieval dish that is stuffed with pumpkin, butternut squash, fresh lemon zest, fresh ricotta and Parmigiano-Reggiano. It was smothered in a savory house sauce. Pastificio’s meatballs were next up ($9.99 for six or $19.99 for 12). Galli said she doesn’t use anything but finely ground veal for these Italian treats and they’re left to simmer in the pomarola sauce. For appetizers, you can find the insalata mista ($14.99 per pound), a fresh and tart salad prepared with fresh bell peppers, red onions, baby artichokes, olive oil and a light balsamic. If you can, save room for dessert. The always classic cannoli ($8.99 for three large or $12.99 for six mini) is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. However, for those looking for a lighter dessert, the frappé ($17 per package) is a light pastry stretched paper thin and tossed with powdered sugar. It pairs well with gelato or fresh fruit. All of these items are The seasonal pumpkin pasta lasagna ($12.99 per pound) includes a mild and melty Parmigiano-Reggiano filling topped with a veal tomato sauce. Photos by Martin Carlino/22nd Century Media handcrafted and passed on from her mother. It’s keeping a family tradition going. Pastificio recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, and Galli said people flooded in to give their respects to the food they’ve had for years. She remembered being in tears all day as more than 500 loyal customers came in to say congratulations. The shop is entering its fourth generation of customers, and Galli plans to keep that going. That said, she’ll never forget the shop’s humble roots. Her mother, Elsa Amidei, had immigrated from Italy and was doing domestic work for the Blossom family, of Lake Forest. Eventually she started cooking and word of her skill spread to the neighbors. Molly Blossom, whose grandparents employed Amidei, said one of the neighbors told Amidei, “You’re such a great cook, what are you going to do about it?” “After that, she quit doing the laundry,” Blossom said. Pastificio 122 Highwood Ave., Highwood 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday- Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday Phone: (847) 432-5459 Fax: (847) 432-5474 Website: pastificiohighwood.com From there, the dream took hold and began becoming a reality. Blossom’s mother is still a loyal customer to Pastificio. The shop’s start wasn’t easy, Galli said. “It was very difficult because the food industry still is dominated by males,” she said. “As a young girl, too, I had to try to gain the respect of the clientele. They would walk in, they would look at this young kid and say, ‘What the hell does she know?’” Galli helped to blaze that trail for women in the culinary industry and now, while it isn’t easy, women are far more respected in the industry, she said. When it comes to proving the doubters wrong, it’s all about word of mouth, Galli said. Galli estimated she has Pastificio’s cappellacci ($12.99 per serving) is stuffed with pumpkin, butternut squash, fresh lemon zest, fresh ricotta and Parmigiano-Reggiano smothered in a savory house sauce. Pastificio’s cannolis are offered in two sizes, $8.99 for three large or $12.99 for six mini, and are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. between five to seven new customers a day. Most of them come because their friends told them to. “Anyone who walks through that door becomes part of this pasta feature family, and that means we want to know you for a long time,” Galli said. Over time, the business has had to adjust, but not change entirely. Many of the customers who started coming 40 years ago are now elderly and live alone, which prompted the singleserving option that most dishes come in, Galli said. She even ships her food, if you request it. Along with the selection of prepared artisanal northern Italian food, Pastificio offers a wide variety of wines and assorted Italian treats. As Galli said, she has pretty much anything you’ll need for a party. Celebrating 40 years in business would have been hard to predict for Galli when she was a 22-yearold girl trying to make it. “Any young person who says, ‘I have this dream,’ I say go for it ... You will never forgive yourself if you don’t,” she said.
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