Pop-up Mattarello rolls out authentic, handmade pastas
I leaned closer to the coiled ropes, noticing that they smelled strongly of the ocean in their pre-boiled state. I pinched one end of a beautiful black noodle, rubbed the Play-Doh-like string between my fingers, and took a bite. Raw, it contained an oddly tender chew. Cooked, it firmed up, yet remained fragile, pliable — I was seized with the desire to create a whole new adjective to describe these noodles, because the ones that came to mind couldn't adequately capture what I tasted.
An epiphany: Fresh pasta is the dish. You need never wonder what you're going to do with pasta — you're not going to dress it, or drown it. You're going to eat it. I ate these squid noodles in Mattarello tomato sauce for round one, which hid the essence of the sea more than I wished. I went lighter in round two, with a squirt of lemon juice, a plop of butter, a glop of olive oil, grated parmesan, and (this may sound strange) small chunks of avocado. Delectable, absolutely.
Amid San Francisco's ultra-hip, ultra-now pop-up scene, Li and Pauley have witnessed friends turn their transitory trucks and tables into brick-and-mortar restaurants. They have business-savvy friends who tell them that now is the time to move forward.
"We know we're at a fork, but we don't know yet which prong we're going to take," said Pauley. He briefly pondered a larger pop-up, or expanding into more locations, but opening an eatery doesn't appeal. "Anna is a doctor, and I don't miss the restaurant scene, the appetizers, the entrées, the running around." Pauley stops to say hi to friends entering Biondivino, then concludes, "I love making love to my dough. I love doing this." *
Mattarello's next pop-up is Dec. 22, noon-3pm at Biondivino, 1415 Green, SF. For future locations and pre-ordering, visit www.mattarellosf.com.
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