Melina’s Fresh Pasta
Photo by Layla Khoury-Hanold
Melina's Fresh Pasta opened Saturday in Durham's Lakewood neighborhood.
2717 Chapel Hill Road, Durham
Instead of a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Carmella Alvaro fittingly snipped a long strand of fettuccine to officially commemorate the opening of Melina’s Fresh Pasta in Durham on Saturday, December 2.
For the last seven years, devotees of Alvaro’s artisanal fresh pasta have snapped up specialties like lemon ricotta and fig and gorgonzola ravioli at Triangle farmers markets and gourmet grocery stores. Now the full line of fresh pastas, sauces, and take-and-bake meals are available at Melina's Fresh Pasta storefront on Chapel Hill Road (across from La Vaquita).
A steady stream of customers, plus Alvaro's family and friends, stopped by the grand opening last Saturday to check out the space. They tested samples, too, including fried pimento cheese ravioli, pillowy ricotta gnocchi with tomato-basil sauce, fig and gorgonzola ravioli paired with a toasty brown-butter-honey sauce, and ‘nduja ravioli, stuffed with Calabrian spicy salami, a nod to Alvaro’s Calabrian family roots, served with her sister’s caponata sauce. Alvaro’s mother and sister also baked an assortment of Italian cookies for the occasion, and Wine Authority offered a wine tasting. (Pro tip for Yankee transplants to the South: you'll find homemade cannoli at Melina's, too.)
Besides acting as a storefront, the impetus for opening a physical location of Melina’s Fresh Pasta is to serve as a production facility. The new space has created a more efficient work flow: each piece of pasta-making equipment (many of which Alvaro likens to giant Play-Doh machines) has its own nook. The staff has ample room to work and move around. As a bonus, the shop’s open floor plan allows customers a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes action, whether the team is hand-shredding mushrooms and cheese for ravioli filling or adding 250 pounds of flour into a paddle barrel mixer to make pasta dough.
Alvaro will also teach monthly pasta-making classes in the new space, where attendees will learn to make fresh pasta in a hands-on setting and then enjoy what they make. A “Ravioli & Shapes” class will be offered on both January 22 and February 23 from six-thirty to eight-thirty p.m.