On the corner of Niagara and Austin sits a Buffalo institution–Gondola Macaroni Products. Started in a West Side home in 1958, Gondola moved to their current location at 1985 Niagara Street in 1968 and have been crafting handmade pasta products ever since.
The array of pasta available at Gondola is enough to send an indecisive grocery shopper into an apoplectic state. Walk through the door of this store front, and you’ll find ravioli (cheese, meat, spinach and lobster), tortellini (cheese and meat), stuffed shells (cheese and spinach), a huge variety of egg noodles (two thicknesses of plain egg noodles, in addition to tomato, saffron, squid ink, spinach, red hot pepper, black pepper, carrot, and garlic egg noodles), and to top it all off (literally), tomato sauce (plain and meat).
All of the Gondola pasta is made by hand, using durum flour, water and eggs. After the ingredients are blended, they are put through a homemade extruder to form one-quarter-inch thick sheets of pasta. These sheets are then spun onto rolls measuring seven inches wide. Ravioli and tortellini are formed by feeding the pasta rolls through press machines. With the addition of semolina to the pasta mix, the dizzying selection of noodles is created.
Gondola is a family pasta business. In 1955, Guido Colla moved to Buffalo from Crespano, Italy. He got a job as a mechanic at Gioia Macaroni, where he maintained and fixed the company machinery. A year later, Guido’s wife, Maria (current owner of Gondola), and children (including Al Colla, current president of Gondola) came to join him. Guido’s ingenuity led him to build his own pasta machine, and by 1958 the family began making pasta from their home on Potomac Avenue. In 1968, the Colla family bought the former Black Rock Pharmacy on Niagara Street and renovated the facility. It remains the home of the company today. Guido Colla passed away in 1985, but it is safe to say that his pasta legacy lives on in Buffalo.
In the name of research, of course, I needed to sample some of Gondola’s fresh-from-the-factory delights myself. I opted to purchase lobster ravioli, which comes in a 2-person, 9.6 oz. serving (12 little pillows of deliciousness in total) for $3.75. It’s a dish best served with a light and understated sauce—tomato sauce will overwhelm the flavor of the lobster. Not wanting to mess with a good thing, I made sure to follow the directions exactly:
Add ravioli to 7 cups boiling water (per package). Stir gently to second boil. Cover securely and remove from heat. Let stand 15 minutes (al dente) or 20 minutes (tender). Drain and serve with butter or your favorite sauce.
I also took the advice on the package and served the ravioli with butter, to which I added a pinch of black pepper and a couple of strands of saffron. I am quite certain that two entrees of lobster ravioli with saffron butter would cost much more than $3.75 at any restaurant worth its salt, and nothing compares to the experience of going to the place where your food has been produced, selecting it yourself and enjoying it in the comfort of your own home. And if you’re wondering how to prepare squid ink noodles, well…try them with a spicy tomato ragout, a seafood sauce, or some sautéed shrimp. Whatever you decide, Gondola pasta won’t disappoint.
Gondola Macaroni Products
1985 Niagara Street, Buffalo, 14207
716.874.4280, call for hours