By Ava Stryker-Robbins
There are many theories about the origin of pasta and how it became such a universal food. Some claim Marco Polo brought pasta to Italy from China in the 13th century, while others say the Etruscan civilization—ancient Italy—made some recognizable form of this carbohydrate as early as the 4th century BC.
Pasta comes in many different shapes. The conchiglie—shell-shaped pasta—at Arco Cafe is served with veal and beef meatballs. The consistency of the pasta combined with the fluffy, flavorful meatballs is heavenly. Each bite carries warmth, serenity, and joy. Daniele Fiori—the co-owner and founder of Acro Cafe—grew up eating conchiglie pasta, although he said in a phone interview with WSR that meatballs are “more often served as a side dish in Italy.”
The tomato sauce served with this dish is an integral part of the recipe–and Arco Cafe. It is made completely from scratch daily, with tomatoes imported from Italy. The pasta is handmade daily as well using flour from local farms. According to Fiori, the shell shape of the conchiglie was historically symbolic of prosperity. In modern times, however, the pasta is more attractive to younger age groups due to the “particular shape” and “funny nature.” Arco Cafe serves pasta in many different shapes in its various dishes, and also sells its fresh pasta by the pound for takeaway to cook at home.
Arco Cafe was opened in 2014 by Fiori and his sister Francesca, who immigrated to New York City from Sardinia to pursue their passion for food and cooking. Cooking was a very important activity in Fiori’s family; “I really grew up in the kitchen of my house…home cooking was an everyday thing, even on the busiest days.” Opening a restaurant had been something he “dreamed of since he was a kid.”
Fiori appreciates the support the Upper West Side has given Arco Cafe. “It has always been very strong,” he concluded. He feels that he is “part of a big family.”
The Conchiglie dish costs $19.90.
The Dish: Conchiglie
The Restaurant: Arco Cafe (886 Amsterdam Avenue at 103rd Street)
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