Option one: Open a box of Barilla pasta at home, dump it into boiling water, serve and eat. Option two: Go to the Barilla restaurant in New York City and have someone else boil the water and dump the pasta in, then bring it to you. Yes, the Italian pasta maker has opened its first restaurant in Midtown Manhattan.
Though the restaurant has been open for three months, the news of its existence is just now stirring up the Internet. And it sounds like what you would imagine — it’s not like the 138-year-old Barilla is trying to act too fancy for its fancy britches, serving its own pasta at a cafeteria-style counter or a rustic dining room, with meals ready quickly.
Which sounds a lot like an Olive Garden, points out the Wall Street Journal in its coverage of the new eatery, with the restaurant’s CEO Stefano Albano saying the company sees an opening for “a fast-casual Italian that provided high quality.”
Food is delivered to tables with on melamine plates with silverware, making it one step up from say, a pizzeria.
But one analyst who studies eating habits at market research firm NPD Group says restaurants can make it if they challenge New Yorkers’ palates.
“One of the top five foods we consume at dinner time is Italian food. The only question is who is going to give me something new,” he told the WSJ.
Sample pasta dishes at Barilla don’t sound all that challenging: It’s a lot of Bolognese and puttanesca — “Americanized stuff” according to Albano, including Alfredo and Primavera sauces. And everything is, of course, made from Barilla products.
“We are in business to also please people. That’s why I have Coke,” he added. “I need to balance out the things that we know people want and the things we know we want to offer to people that make us who we are.”
Italian Pasta Makers Take Bite Out of Big Apple [Wall Street Journal]