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Pastaia Julia puts the past in pasta

Pelican Hill’s pasta room was inspired by a family kitchen in Faenza, Italy

A little piece of Italy, nine-feet long by nine-feet wide, sits tucked inside Andrea Ristorante at The Resort at Pelican Hill.

The tiny, temperature-controlled room was not part of the original plans. But Managing Director Giuseppe Lama revised the blueprints to include a cucina della pasta:

A pasta room.

That’s where pasta chef, or pastaia, Julia Holland crafts 17 varieties of fresh pasta daily—from  ricotta cavatelli, to lobster tortelli, to potato-and-prosciutto-stuffed farfalle.

Each year, Holland and an assistant cut, roll and shape more than 2,500 pounds of pasta, using spinach, olives, beets, wine and squid ink for color and flavor. Seasonal specials include pistachio, hazelnut, beet and basil pasta dough.

“Sure I get tired after a long shift—everyone does,” Holland says. “But I never get tired of making pasta. It makes me happy.”

And working in a cucina della pasta? In Newport Beach?

“I feel like it’s a little hidden Italy.”


Inspiration for the pasta room came from Faenza, Italy, where Giuseppe Lama grew up.

His parents ran a small restaurant there. And each afternoon, as he did homework at one of the tables, he watched his mother buy hand-made pasta from the women in town. Some used old family recipes. Some used vegetables grown in their backyard. Some used cooking skills passed down for generations.

Together, they provided Lama’s mother with a variety of fresh, hand-made pasta every day. That’s what her son wanted to recreate—and why he revised the restaurant’s blueprints to include a pasta room.

As a result, locals know they can rely on Andrea Ristorante to serve them authentic Italian dishes— inspired by “Mama Lama.”

One day, Holland sculpts beef-filled agnolotti; the next, she hand-rolls beet-speckled fusilli; another morning, she sifts Caputo flour to create beautiful gnocci, which she calls, “little pillows of joy!”

Her little piece of Italy is maintained at a perfect 68 degrees. Her cupboards are stocked with imported stone-ground flour, organic eggs and purified water. And her iPod plays, what else, Italian opera as she presses, pulls, slices and shapes dough for the evening’s dinner service.

“You want the highest quality ingredients but really, in making pasta, it’s the feeling you put into it,” she says. “You have to love what you’re creating because the pasta will show that in the texture.”

Andrea Ristorante, at The Resort at Pelican Hill, 22701 S Pelican Hill Rd, Newport Coast, serves lunch Wednesday through Sunday, and dinner nightly.

MEET OUR PASTAIA

Learn how to make traditional Italian egg-based pasta dough, as well as lobster tortelli and handmade spaghetti alla chitarra in the Andrea Ristorante pasta kitchen. Join pastaia Julia on Thursdays at 11 a.m. for one hour of hands-on instruction and a delicious two-course lunch—made by you.

Advance reservations required: $120 per person, excluding tax and service charge. Maximum of three people per class. Call 949-467-6800 to reserve a spot.