What inspired you to open Nonni’s Italian Kitchen and Pasta Shop?
I had been in the food business for quite a few years and I was fortunate to come across a fresh pasta shop for sale. Memories of traditional Sunday dinners with my Nonni DeDucca were the inspiration to open an Italian restaurant. I can remember sitting down to eat those home cooked meals that my Nonni took all day to prepare from scratch, and having such a comfortable and satisfying feeling. I knew I wanted to share that feeling with people. Italian food was a no-brainer.
How is your pasta made?
We make fresh pasta daily with water, eggs and semolina. I mix these items into the pasta machine until I get the consistency I want and then I feed it into the sheeter until I obtain the correct thickness. From there, I lay it out on my wooden pasta table and cut the pasta into sheets, which are then made and cut fresh into different types of pasta like spaghetti, fettuccini, rigatoni and pappardelle.
We also make various flavors like sun-dried tomato, spinach, tomato basil and herb garlic, to name a few. Some of our pasta is made by hand, but most is made with what I like to call my post-World War II equipment. They are 60-year-old machines from Italy but they still work.
What one item do your customers always ask for and rave about?
We’re known for our Eggplant Parmesan. We always hear from our customers that it is the best they have ever had; we even sell it to local markets. I cannot tell you our secret recipe, but I can say that making the dish is quite the process and takes some time.
What is your favorite item on the restaurant menu?
My wife and I eat in our restaurant every day and so do our children and grandchildren. As a family-run business, we’re always here together. My favorite item would be the Veal Saltimbocca. I think it is hard to get a veal dish when you go out to eat that is as tender as the veal in our dishes. We pound them so well that they melt in your mouth.
What would you say is the best thing about owning and operating a restaurant?
The company we keep. As a very community friendly restaurant, we have met so many great people from all over the state. We support our schools and do fundraisers when we can. It makes me very proud that we have become successful and I love hearing how delicious someone’s meal was. I am so pleased that we are able to maintain the highest quality of meals at the most affordable prices.
What do you think your Nonni would say about the restaurant and store today?
If Nonni was here today, she would definitely be proud of me and the family oriented business I have created, as she was very big on family. However, she would be pretty strict on a few things, such as salt shakers on the table. Nonni believed that you were to eat the food exactly the way it was prepared.
What is the best pasta dish you have ever eaten in your life? Where were you?
My wife and I were at a little seaside restaurant on Elba Island in Italy. I got a dish with spaghetti and clams and she got fish. We were certainly surprised when they came out and my meal had black spaghetti (squid ink pasta) and my wife’s was a whole fish. But both were the best I have ever tasted.
Let’s talk lasagna. How do you make yours at home?
We pretty much make it the same way as we do at Nonni’s. Our ingredients are the same: fresh pasta, ricotta, mozzarella, sauce, basil, etc. The only difference is that at home we make one pan of pasta and one gallon of sauce at a time, but at the restaurant we make about 45 pans of lasagna a week and about 100 gallons of sauce at a time.
Phillip and Cheryl DeDucca own Nonni’s Italian Kitchen and Pasta Shop in Tiverton.