“We’re not just presenting our chefs with a list of standard options to choose from,” she said. “If they want crawfish and scallop cannelloni, we can make it for them. We can make two-cheese, three-cheese or four-cheese ravioli, and they can choose the cheeses. We’ve made more than 1,000 variations on pasta for our clients. Anything they can imagine, we can probably make.”
Pasta Mami is a family business founded by Mark and Hilda Portwood. The couple met at Capriccio, renamed Pricci in the 1990s. He was the head chef; she was the pasta maker. In 1987, they went out on their own.
These days, both daughters are part of the company, with Angela serving as chief operating and financial officer and Lisa as chief customer service officer.
“My parents always hoped we would join them in the business,” Angela Portwood said. “They are the CEOs. They make the final decisions. But we all wear all hats when needed. I get right in there and make pasta, too. In fact, I can go from weighing the ingredients for the pasta dough to cooking fillings to making pasta to costing out the recipes.”
The Portwoods work Monday through Friday from their Marietta kitchen, starting at 6 a.m. and wrapping up in the late afternoon.
The products include egg pasta — which can be plain, or flavored with such things as tomato, beets, spinach, jalapeno, rosemary and basil — as well as combinations. One of the latter features squid ink and plain egg pastas layered, so the final result comes out striped in black and white.
Pasta Mami makes a pappardelle that Portwood said gives a dish a Cajun flavor without all the heat. “It’s perfect for someone who doesn’t like spicy food, but wants that spicy flavor. It’s perfect with seafood,” she said.
And one of the company’s most popular ravioli is the eggplant variety.
Extruded pastas are made by machine, with a bronze die that provides a particular texture. Rolled pastas go through a laminator and then are cut to shape. The bucatini is torn by hand, and the tortellini, cannoli and manicotti are filled and rolled by hand. In addition, there are almost as many varieties of flavored gnocchi available as there are pastas.
The fillings are just as involved. The Portwoods make the sausage; smoke the mozzarella, chicken or duck; and cook 50 pounds of steak at a time for the braised beef filling, trimming all the meats in-house.
Pasta Mami’s primary business is wholesale, but the pasta is available through Fresh Harvest, Garnish & Gather, Rise and Shine and the Chop Shop, and you can find the company’s products on some Delta Air Lines flights.
Surrounded by pasta at work, Portwood said the family still enjoys eating it at home: “The mozzarella and ricotta ravioli are my mom’s and my favorite. The extra raviolis that weren’t perfect enough to sell? We pan fry those and snack on them for lunch.”
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