Pasta pasta pasta....

Hi everyone!

I am 2 months away from opening my first store :lol: . I have had alot of experience with pizza, however pasta not so much.

I am looking at adding 4-5 pasta’s to my menu. My first question is what would you recommend to place on the menu. Im thinking a Bolognese, Lasagne, but im not sure what the other big sellers are.

My second question (as we are about to finalise fitout details) is what would you recommend in regards to preparing the pasta? If at all possible i dont want a stove in my shop (due to space problems). I recall Tom Lehman once suggested purchasing ready to serve pasta dishes (I am in Australia so i cannot use his supplier recommendation) is that a viable option?

Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Where are you in Australia?

I may be able to help once I find out where you are.


Hey Dave im in Hervey Bay, Queensland mate.

We do pasta in our shop but are looking at a better way of doing it. Currently we buy in bulk sauce - Bolognaise, Tomato & Basil and Carbonara and portion control and freeze. We can have up to 25 variants from 4 sauces and 6 different pastas, plus Spag Meatballs. 26 if you include lasagna. :frowning:

Pastas are par cooked and portioned controlled and frozen. When the order comes we take out the pasta and sauce. The sauce goes in our 1600 watt commercial microwaves for heating and the pasta goes into saucepans of boling water for finishing. All are served up in plastic take away containers. It is not the most effiecent way of doing it and we are looking at doing it better.

We also do a lasagna that we buy in in foil containers @ 500gm. We estimate 3 days sales and put this amount in the coolroom. When we get an order we put them in the microwave for 90 seconds to take the chill off and slightly heat through, top with a couple of slices of tomato and top with cheese. They go go through our conveyor oven at 262 celsius for 7 minutes.

We are looking to do pre-done pasta and sauce where we can get it out of the freezer and finish off in the microwave, but we haven’t perfected it yet. We keep getting burnt / dry sides. The sauce we use has a very short use (no preservatives, freshly made) by so we can’t keep them in the coolroom thawed.

We are looking at reducing our range to Lasagna, Spag Bol, Fettucini Caronara, Ravioli & Tomato Basil, Chicken Agnolotti with Creamy Mushroom (fresh mushroms added to Carbonara) and a Cannoloni with Tom Basil, with the pasta / sauces ready combined.

Check with your local pasta suppliers as they will have portion control (normally 400gm) ready made packs that you can thaw and put through the microwave or through the oven. Problem is that you will pay about $5 for them and sell for about $9. Ours cost us about $4.40 and we sell for $10 (500gm). Lasagne costs $4.95 and sell for $10 but they take minimal handling.

Pastas are good add ons but the profit margin is not that great, especially if you are getting pre-made packs, or filled pastas. Penne and Spag are the best lines as we buy bulk for $1.50 kg and put 250gm cooked (about 220gm uncooked) per serve. We cook these ourselves so the margin is much better.

Pastas also take you away from the make bench and when busy can be a great pain in the butt. Sometimes I wish I didn’t do them, but they represent anywhere from 5% - 10% of our sales on any given night.

We always find that when we are short of start or are getting hammered we get lots of pasta orders - murphy’s law :roll:

As you don’t have a stove you will need a microwave. Don’t muck around with a domestic one as they take too long. Invest in a commercial one such as Menu Master. You can pick up new ones for about $1300 for a 1100 watt. I paid $1600 for 2 slightly used 1600 watt Menus Master ones. The cooking time is so quick compared to domestic ones. You can often pick up some cheap on E-Bay and there is a company on the Gold Coast that specialises in used kitchen equipment and often have them going for around $600 - $800.

Try starting off with lasagna and see how you go from there as you need to do a quantity of pastas to make it worthwhile.

Talk with your suppliers and see what you came up with ideas wise. Also make sure you get lots and lots of samples from different companies and try them all because some look great but taste terrible. We tried about 8 companies and ended up staying with our original one. The last thing you want is turning a customer off with poor pasta as this can flow through to losing your pizza sales.

Hope this helps you out.

If you want more info email me at or give me a call on 0400 022 188.