From bucatini to linguine: Behind the scenes with the Peninsula’s noodle masters.

Trish Battaglia at Saporito Pasta in Redwood City on June 1. Photo by Devin Roberts.

When my colleague Devin Roberts and I showed up at an 8 a.m. appointment deep in industrial Redwood City, we were flummoxed. 

“Where’s the pasta factory?” we asked each other as we circled fruitlessly around the block, passing an RV repair shop and asking a man if he knew where the pasta factory was. (He didn’t know there was even one nearby.) 

We circled the block again and then finally called the phone number of our contact on the inside: Trish Battaglia. She picked up immediately and eagerly stepped outside of an unmarked door and let us in. 

In the front office of the factory, we donned hairnets and walked into the back room where Saporito Pasta makes its noodles.

Production day at Saporito Pasta in Redwood City. Photo by Devin Roberts.

Battaglia, her husband Greg and their business partner Brian DiNapoli have run the Redwood City pasta factory for about eight years and are its third owners; the factory has been in operation for at least 20 years. Since taking on the business, they have quadrupled pasta sales, Battaglia said. 

And they’re looking to expand further: They recently purchased a new plant that will allow them to manufacture meat-based pasta dishes. Cooking with meat requires having specialized USDA inspection facilities, so they need a separate space, Battaglia explained. 

Cheese ravioli is among the pasta varieties made at Saporito Pasta in Redwood City. Photo by Devin Roberts.

A team of five workers clocks in at 5 a.m. daily to make fresh pasta and desserts that are served at restaurants like Local Union 271, 888 Ristorante Italiano, Stamp Bar and Grill, The Post, Miramar Beach Restaurant and the Peninsula Creamery, as well as sold at local grocers like Bianchini’s Market, Piazza’s Fine Foods, Sigona’s Farmers Market and Dehoff’s Market. The company works with other customers too, but some grocers co-pack the pasta to have that company’s branding on it, and some restaurants present it as their own housemade pasta, she explained.  

Making the pasta 

Semolina flour, water, and sometimes eggs are mixed and weighed to create the dough for the pasta created at Saporito Pasta. Photo by Devin Roberts.

Saporito makes both dry and fresh pastas with just a handful of main ingredients: semolina and water, plus sometimes egg. 

A roll of dough is fed through the laminator to create thin sheets of pasta. Photo by Devin Roberts.

The pasta is made in a series of steps: First, the semolina and water are weighed. Next, they’re added to one of two machines that mix the dough. The first machine mixes the dough until it comes out in flat sheets, which are then rolled up around rods that are then fed through another machine that slices the sheets into different noodle shapes. This machine makes noodles shapes like linguini, pappardelle and lasagna. 

Sheets of pasta are folded and cut for packaging at Saporito Pasta in Redwood City. Photo by Devin Roberts.

Then there’s the extruder machine. This one is used for making the pasta noodles that come out as tubes – from macaroni to gemelli to penne. These are pressed through different dies – like a Play-Doh press – shaping long strands of tubular noodles. 

Freshly cut noodles are dusted with flour at Saporito Pasta. Photo by Devin Roberts.

During our visit, the extruder machine was pumping out long, thick bucatini noodles. As the noodles emerged in long, thick cords, the operator would wait until each was a little longer than a foot before slicing the emerging noodles and rolling them in semolina. Then he gently folded each noodle set into a bundle to be packaged for delivery. 

Pasta dough is sent through the extruder to create bucatini noodles at Saporito Pasta in Redwood City. Photo by Devin Roberts.

As the day goes on, the team makes different batches of pasta, adding egg to some subsequent batches, and making further batches of the colored or flavored pasta varieties toward the end of the day. They’ve used natural ingredients like beets, spinach, roasted red peppers, paprika, saffron and squid ink in specialty orders, Battaglia said. 

Pasta noodles coming out of the extruder at Saporito Pasta. Photo by Devin Roberts.

Times were tough for the factory during COVID. The team had to deal with a spike in the cost of flour and the dissipation of their tech company commissary kitchen customers. Before the pandemic, they had been preparing 4,000 pounds of pasta a week just for Google. After the outbreak, that disappeared. So the community stepped up to buy their pasta, Battaglia said. The Redwood City Police Department placed orders; the company began offering a 15% discount to first responders. And they voluntarily fed pasta to an entire hospital. 

Bucatini noodles emerge from the extruder. Photo by Devin Roberts.

Plus, the grocery stores kept selling their pasta, she said. 

“We’re thankful to all of our grocery stores we sell to,” Battaglia said. “They pretty much kept us in business.” 

Freshly cut noodles are ready for packaging at Saporito Pasta in Redwood City. Photo by Devin Roberts.

In addition to expanding to a new USDA-compatible facility where they can prepare food with meat, Saporito Pasta is also expanding production of its dessert offerings. 

Two of the staff members previously worked at French Patisserie, a Pacifica-based macaron wholesaler. Saporito currently offers creme brulee, chocolate ganache mini cakes, raspberry mousse mini cakes and tiramisu. During the holidays they also make buche de Noel cakes. 

Creme brulee is finished with a handheld torch at Saporito Pasta in Redwood City on June 1. Photo by Devin Roberts.

They’re hoping to pass the business on to family members and often invite relatives to help out at the factory, Battaglia said. “It’s mangia (eat), but work,” she added. 

All of the factory staff members work together to produce the pasta; the newer employees spend a couple of years just on one machine to master it before moving on to other parts of the manufacturing process, she said. 

Raspberry mousse, tiramisu, and chocolate ganache cakes are made at Saporito Pasta. Photo by Devin Roberts.

Some commute from as far away as Richmond, and Battaglia said she helps to pay for the FasTrak and gas costs associated with their commutes. She said her favorite part is seeing the employees “enjoy what they do.” 

“We all bring skills,” she said. “Everybody contributes in one way or another.” 

Where to find it

Packages of fresh pasta are organized and inventoried. Photo by Devin Roberts.

Saporito Pasta products are available at the following Peninsula grocery stores: 

Kate Bradshaw

Kate Bradshaw

Kate Bradshaw reports food news and feature stories all over the Peninsula, from south of San Francisco to north of San José. Since she began working with Embarcadero Media in 2015, she's reported on everything from Menlo Park's City Hall politics to Mountain View's education system. She has won awards from the California News Publishers Association for her coverage of local government, elections and land use reporting.

You May Also Like

Schmear campaign: Peninsula bagel shops with East Coast roots prepare for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur feasts

How a former theater producer staged her dream cider bar on the Coastside

Beers, brats and Bavarian revelry: The Six Fifty’s guide to Oktoberfest 2023

‘I don’t leave the kitchen for two days’: Meet the team making baklava and moussaka for the masses at the Belmont Greek Festival