Chasing Ravioli (Issue 1029)

In which we are reminded that, no matter how good our offer or relationship is, many clients will always have an eye out for ‘what else is out there.’

One member of my family has a particularly strong affection for pasta. Her first choice and test case for any Italian restaurant is Fettuccine all’Alfredo. [Here’s a terrific short history of the dish, if you’re interested. The short story is: Invented in Rome in 1914 by restauranteur Alfredo di Lelio in an effort to nourish his post-partum wife after the birth of their first son.]

My family member’s second choice is cheese ravioli, a much earlier invention (the earliest known mention of ravioli appears in the personal letters of Francesco di Marco Datini, a merchant of Prato in the 14th century).

So, for a birthday present this year, I presented the idea that we would do a “pasta crawl” in Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts (close to where we live) seeking out places that make and sell pasta on site. The idea was: Meet the people (several of the providers are family owned), buy some ravioli, cook it, and eat it straight away (which, sometimes, has meant eating our Saturday or Sunday evening meal at 3:30 pm. Nevermind, it’s winter, cold and dark by that point.

I Googled “fresh pasta” and identified four providers that sell to the public. Each weekend during December, we went to one of them to buy ravioli. The first three offered their ravioli frozen. While they were quite good, the ratio of pasta to filling was a little heavy on the pasta. The fourth (and closest to our home) offered ‘made to order’ on site. Winner, winner, ravioli dinner!

So, I figured, we’d nailed it. We’d found our favorite local provider. And, then, I heard the question, “I wonder what else is out there. Did you look in Boston?”

“No,” I replied, “I looked only in the neighborhoods close to us.”

So, a couple of weeks later, we headed into Boston and found parking (miracle!) in the North End, a Boston neighborhood that, from the late 1800s until very recently, was predominantly Italian. Hanover Street and Salem Street are still the “Streets of Dreams” if visions of carbonara and cannolis dance through your head.

So, we parked, and looked up. There, catty-corner across the street from us, was Monica’s Fresh Pasta.

“Oooo, let’s go in there,” suggested my fellow crawler.

In we went. Fresh pasta they make. We asked for a pound of cheese ravioli. We watched as one of the store staff retrieved two hefty spools of pasta dough, loaded them onto a machine behind the counter, screwed on a metal cylinder containing the cheese filling, and, right before our delighted eyes, cranked out a pound of ravioli.

“Fresh!”, he said, smiling at us as he sprinkled corn meal over the completed raviolis.

New winner. The ratio of pasta to filling was AMAZING. Despite the thin pasta dough, the raviolis held up well as they cooked and they were an absolute treat on the tongue. Our new “go to” provider. Again, I figured we’d nailed it.

A week later, I heard, “So, there’s this place in Providence, Venda Ravioli…”

Nick Miller and Clarity train banks and bankers to attract and develop deeper relationships with small businesses. Many more Sales Thoughts like this and a host of other articles and resources at .

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