Bella Ravioli, South Medford MA

On a beautiful fall day, I took a stroll down to South Medford to restock my freezer with some homemade pasta at Bella Ravioli, and as I noticed they had signs up that it’s their 40th anniversary I thought maybe what with all the long time spots dropping out in the region lately that they deserved a bit of touting. Bella is mother-son retail operation where the son makes the pastas and Mom makes the sauces and the meatballs. They are generally both in the shop when I go in, and one indication of how long they’ve been there is that when Mrs. DePasquale rings up my sale, she likes to call me “young man”. (This is nice to hear, but grossly and horrifyingly inaccurate).

I think the pastas are good not great–the filled ones are kind of underseasoned in my opinion–but I’m a big fan of the plain cheese ravioli and the spinach tortellini. I generally buy the frozen ones just to have on hand for meals, but it’s cool when you buy them fresh and they get put in the classic red and white Italian cardboard box where they’re dusted with plenty of cornmeal so they don’t stick together. Sometimes they even tie it up with string! I’ve also never gone into this shop without having Robert Depasquale being there in the back, rolling out pasta of assorted kinds. (There’s also some other old Italian guy who’s almost always there who doesn’t seem to do anything at all but just hang out, which very much adds to the atmosphere).

It’s a family owned, long running retail store where the people involved show up every day to put in hard work to make products that they’re proud of in a historically Italian-American neighborhood. Do they make ravioli that’s so out of this world that you’d drive across town just to buy it? Nope. But I can walk there and buy pasta that I know is being made fresh because I can see it. The son is always there, working at it. There are fewer and fewer places like this, sadly, and I’m sure as hell going to stock my freezer here when I can because I know in my heart that maybe it’s not going to be there forever.

(Coda: in the rare instance that someone decides to go here on the strength of this maudlin paen, please be warned that they are terrible about masking and always have been. I shrug this off for my two minute visits, myself, but if that is something that you’re scrupulous about then now you know!)

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Not maudlin, just great. Thanks for this neighborhood post.

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Lovely post. There’s one like this in a prime spot in Little Italy in nyc, and I’ve mulled over how long it will be there.

I wonder if they supply to any larger stores - some of these kinds of places in nyc used to do that, and I think maybe it kept them afloat. Gets harder as the other stores get replaced by chains, because getting into those is a whole other story.

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Not to derail this to NYC but, out of pure curiosity (and a desire to guzzle good pasta), which is this spot?

Di Palo’s? (But not a pasta place, primarily, and solid in their prime spot given their fame.)
Raffetto’s? (Less well known, but well outside Little Italy, I’d think, although these definitions are fluid.)
I know both and have eaten from both, but if there’s another I’d like to know.

This is exactly the kind of place we need more of but are becoming extinct. Thanks for this invaluable report - it’s a good reminder that even the most mundane places/food experiences are important.

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I really enjoyed reading your review of Bella Ravioli and agree with you that it would be great if there were more of these old family run businesses around. I’ve never tried Bella Ravioli’s products but have driven past it many times on my way to Colette’s Bakery, on Main St. Medford which is another locally owned business making superb French pastries and breads. A friend told me about Colette’s about 6 months ago and now I’m addicted. The croissants, baguettes, eclairs (chocolate & coffee), the tart citron, and everything else I’ve tried have been excellent. Hands down the best French breads and pastries in the Boston area in my opinion. Go early on the weekends because they usually are sold out by early afternoon.

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Across the street - opp Ferrara and Nyonya
Piemonte maybe?

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Thanks.

Bella Ravioli IMO makes the best fresh traditional Italian cheese ravioli. Yes, it’s fun to shop there. The “old guy” is Robert’s older brother who’s had some health problems in recent history. One other thing to know is this is a cash business.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold

Market stall in Lima
Credit: TXMX 2