The first time David Lopes stepped inside Tiverton’s Litl Rhody Pasta K.O., he had no idea he’d be running the shop one day. He was a customer shopping for fresh pasta made by previous owner Steve Bird.
Over the years, Lopes became a regular, stopping by for Bird’s handmade ravioli, linguini, and other handmade creations whenever a craving hit. One day in the winter of 2022, Bird mentioned that he was getting tired and thinking of slowing down. “I said, ‘if you’re going to sell the business, would you please sell it to me?’” Lopes recalls.
It took some time, but eventually Bird agreed. About six months later, in September 2022, Lopes and his family – a partnership which includes wife Andrea and their sons, brother William and his wife Sarah, many cousins, and more – officially bought the shop. It’s a perfect complement to their other business, an olive oil and vinegar store called Virgin and Aged in Newport.
Operating two businesses as a family has its challenges, Lopes admits. But everyone works well together to keep things running smoothly. They live in Portsmouth, not far from either shop. “We are all on the go quite a bit, but it’s not just one person trying to do everything, which really helps,” he says.
Even though ownership changed, the focus sticks to what it has been known for since the beginning: creating the freshest handmade pasta, sold by the pound or the piece, and available in various shapes and flavors. The menu, which is posted on social media, changes a bit from day to day. Walk in at any given time, and you’ll find the case filled with options like bucatini arranged in nest-like piles, diablo (spicy) rigatoni, and pasta sheets in flavors ranging from garlic basil to black pepper.
The store’s ravioli – with filling flavors like lobster, butternut squash, and burrata with spinach – are popular with customers, as are its take-and-bake meals. Options include sausage lasagna, meatball and ricotta rigatoni, and buffalo chicken mac and cheese.
Making large quantities of fresh pasta is labor intensive, Lopes emphasizes. To lighten the load, they have developed a partnership with Alex Reppe, who serves as chef and manager at the shop. Reppe also runs his own business, Newport Pasta Co., through which he teaches pasta-making classes at Rhode Island breweries and sells at farmers’ markets.
In keeping with the Italian theme, the family’s Virgin and Aged olive oils and vinegars are also available at the Tiverton store. “We are excited about our small part in bringing these quality products to the region in a mom-and-pop style that is fleeting in an era of big box chain food purveyors,” says co-owner William Lopes.
Litl Rhody Pasta K.O. also sells to restaurant clients, including Fieldstones in Portsmouth, as well as Newport’s Brick Alley Pub, Sardella’s, and The Safari Room at Oceancliff. To meet wholesale demand, Lopes just invested in a new pasta-making machine that will help the shop produce ravioli more efficiently. “It’s going to revolutionize our production,” Lopes says. “It’s a good problem to have, but it’s still a problem when you have an item that’s so popular, you can’t keep up.”
14A Stafford Rd., Tiverton • 401-816-4207
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