There’s all sorts of reasons you might go to Prica Farina in Warren. I’ll scan through the people in line to find some of them. There’s a couple after my own heart, eating dessert first: They down a cannoli each, freshly filled in front of them. In the corner, a small family tastes gelato from a visiting supplier. And us? We’re here partly to manage our cheese addiction. Prica Farina introduced us to Vermont Shepherd’s Invierno, and over the holidays we’ve gone through two pounds of it. Really though, same as everyone, we’re here for fresh pasta.
If you’ve never had fresh pasta, disgrazia! I used to make pasta frequently… then I had a child, and it became a casualty alongside my study of the fretless bass. Prica Farina does it better anyway, with traditional bronze-cut, sauce-loving pastas. Ask the proprietress Priscilla for guidance if need be, but if you can boil water and have a four-minute attention span, you’re up for the challenge. I’m sure their pasta has won hundreds of people ill-deserved compliments at dinner parties at this point, but I mostly use it to make the mundane special. With a neat little package from Prica Farina boxed up in the fridge, I can elevate a weekday meal without really trying.
When Prica Farina first opened, my toddler had enough space to run laps around the storefront while we chatted with the owners, Priscilla and David. David is often feeding ribbons of pasta dough over a stainless-steel table, while Priscilla smiles and bustles about in front. Like everyone who enters, at some point our toddler pauses to stare, transfixed by what must seem a glass toy box, filled with different shapes and colors. There are classics, like linguini in alluring nests, but also the more whimsical and modern. There are industrial little radiatore next to flirty little campanelle, in colors from squid ink black to the gold of a dim winter sun. Every piece of pasta is picture perfect.
Now it’s the holiday rush, and our little man can barely glimpse inside the case for the forest of legs in the way. I’m not surprised how business has grown. That’s because Prica Farina isn’t just one of those boutique food curiosity shops, with a selection destined to gather dust in your pantry. It’s not filled with tiny jars of caviar and impossibly small, expensive magic beans from Provence. Instead, Prica Farina peels away part of your grocery shopping from the supermarket and improves it. Prica Farina understands that pasta, no matter how fresh and lovely, is a staple. If you’re lucky enough to live nearby, it sells it affordably so that you can buy it on a weekly basis.
From this particular trip, I spent about 30 minutes making radiatore in a maitake mushroom garlic cream sauce, with some barely wilted baby kale. I’m not bragging to say it tasted remarkable, because that remarkable something extra had very little to do with me. A frilly flush of maitake from RI Mushroom Company, crisp baby kale from Little River Farm, a decent glug of cream, all lead to the critical step: a gentle tug on a red and white thread. That tug opens a special little pasta box, and a different level of quality.