By Tracy Iannell
On Saturday, Oct. 30, the prosecco was flowing at 40 Main St. in celebration of a fast-paced first year in business.
The neighborhood shop honored this milestone with their house made decadent lobster raviolis—crafted just minutes prior to the event. In attendance: over 110 well fed, unabashedly pasta-obsessed neighborhood fans. It was a mutual admiration society.
This is no overnight success; rather the culmination of two years of planning during the pandemic. The business concept is genius and perfectly timed: creative, hand-crafted offerings of restaurant quality pastas and their side dishes at a fraction of the cost. With this caliber of “to go” dinner, simply prepared at home in 20 minutes, the shop was rapidly embraced.
Such a unique foodie story has deep- seated roots in fine dining, culinary schools, and over 60 years of combined, diverse restaurant street cred. Matthew Delisle, Peter McGough, Ryan Fessinger, and Sarah Adams all met at the legendary L’Espalier, formerly in the Back Bay. When that iconic restaurant closed, the coworkers remained connected via the hospitality community and social media. After stints at Eataly, hotels, and a few side hustles, the four reunited. The formula: a work ethic of mutual respect, approachability, and a high caliber of expertise. The shop is a study in friendship, shared history, aspirations, a passion for food, and resilience.
Matthew, one of the two longstanding chefs by trade, has lived in Charlestown since 2002. Riding his bike on local streets, he discovered the tiny jewel of a dry cleaner’s storefront—ironically in the very same building he calls home, owned by the Chin family. His vision for a vibrant Charlestown Main Street, with more varied businesses, meeting places, and exemplary food, resulted in their licensing application in January of 2021. Transforming his deep expertise from fine dining to a smaller, nimbler business was contagious.
Peter, who was cooking at Mida in the South End, missed the experience of a guest-facing, hands- on eatery. With his partnership with Matthew, he returns to his love of the ultimate comfort food-pasta. The determination to “keep it local” means that Charlestown now enjoys exceptional freshly prepared foods that are challenging to find. The Main Street Pasta and Wine Shop opened 10 months later, with a variety of handcrafted pastas, meatballs, pesto, sauces, and cheeses. Shortly thereafter, with the newly acquired wine license, Ryan and Matthew curated their selection of special wines. Sarah, with her passion for service and Ryan, who streamlined operations, advanced the same dream.
Their complimentary skills yielded an easier transition than anyone expected. Although all of the Main Street team are multi-taskers, the ravioli making, seen in their front window, is the star attraction. All agree that the days are busy, the year flew by, and that time management is the greatest challenge. Matthew elaborated: “Being chefs and in the restaurant world is not just what we do, it is who we are.” The mantra of creating a good environment run by those who care is abundantly clear.
There were inevitable surprises. No one predicted the number of babies and dogs in Charlestown, and how rapidly the “high-end food to-go” would become habitual for busy working parents. Young families visit weekly for a “ravioli run” including sauces and wines. The learning curve included unpredictable pivots: like understanding the best packaging for fresh pasta, and forecasting demand when the neighborhood’s “word-of mouth” marketing brought the crowds. Reworking prior roles and tapping into creativity became increasingly fulfilling. Simply, it is a happy place.
When you have the opportunity to quiz a chef about his food favorites, you must. Matthew’s go-to meal? Red sauce and meatballs with some smaller pasta like gnochetti, paired with the newly stocked 2015 Cos red. Peter favors the freshly made malfaldine (a flat, sauce-magnet pasta) tossed with a sausage ragu, and complimented with a glass of Barbera. The wine racks are filled with approachably delicious offerings, including a growing organic and natural wine selection. As wine lovers themselves, they appreciate distinctive wines priced in the sweet spot of $20-$30.00 – or even less. By sourcing from smaller vineyards, local distributors, or producers on the verge of being discovered, the reasonable wine prices are as compatible and value -oriented as their food deserves. Choosing a wine for the squid ink pasta, ricotta cheese- filled pillows of ravioli, or meatballs is made even easier with Ryan’s handwritten, detailed tasting notes tied on the bottles. And, there is not a wine snob in the place.
No one is resting on their laurels after the first year, and holiday preparations are well underway. There will be pre-ordering for Thanksgiving, lobster and truffle raviolis, and new artisan pasta shapes. Special occasion varietals and sparkling wines round out the selection. Holiday gift baskets, and orders for larger gatherings easily eliminate entertaining stress.
Looking forward to 2023— a restaurant in Charlestown is in the exploratory phase. These entrepreneurial restauranteurs appreciate the town’s overwhelming support, and see additional opportunities to fulfill their original vision – always with enthusiastic “thank yous.”
Peter sums it up perfectly: “Without the neighborhood, there would be no us.”
You can select your wines, pasta, meatballs, crave-worthy cheeses, crackers, chocolate and snacks– seven days a week from noon until six p.m. at 40 Main St. Oh, and while your stomach growls in anticipation, watch the artistry of the pasta makers. Follow them on Instagram for the latest news and releases.