He’s Baaaack

pasta nazi In 2006, while lost in Johnston, we stumbled onto Conti’s, a delicious little food stand with a Leaning Tower of Pisa on its roof.  Owner Giovanni Conti wouldn’t be more specific than “a long time” when I asked how long he’d run his stand, but I hope he runs it forever.

Mr. Conti, whom we affectionately (not to his face) call the Pasta Nazi, isn’t too far off from Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi.  Although the P.N. can occasionally be jolly, the menu, the ingredients, and particularly the time of year his stand is open (“when he feels like it,” which ranges from approximately late April to whenever it turns too chilly) are entirely at his will.  If you don’t like the taste of black pepper, don’t order his food.  If you don’t like a surprise burst of ricotta cheese inside your homemade meatballs, don’t order his meatballs.  If you want some sissy flavor like watermelon, don’t order one of his frozen lemonades.

But if you want fresh, homemade pasta (rigatoni, spaghetti, and ricotta-filled gnocci), meatballs, sauce, and other dishes and occasional soups, step right up.  Sometimes you’ll be the only customer around to enjoy the Italian tunes piped out from the stand, and other times you’ll have to elbow past die-hard customers shooting the breeze with the P.N. in Italian, but you’ll always get a sastisfying meal for about $10.

The Pasta Nazi has also combined Old World with Rhode World, putting his own twist on local favorites.  His doughboys look like a plate of sugar-coated onion rings, and his clam cakes are little fried commas instead of balls.  You can also find random homemade goodies, again entirely at his whim, such as torroni and pepperoni.  Our only complaint in the past was that sauce would find a way to seep out the cracks of his one-piece styrofoam containers on the drive home, but this year Mr. Conti is using plastic ones with tight, snap-on lids.  Awesome.

This gem is only around three days a week for 4-6 months of the year, so don’t miss it.  Just figure out what you want in advance, because once you place an order, the Pasta Nazi is holding you to it.  NEXT!

Conti’s, 269 Greenville Ave, Johnston, Fridays-Sundays from 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

2 thoughts on “He’s Baaaack”

  1. Let’s get something straight…Mr. Conti is not a pasta Nazi. He just prepares the food that HE thinks you should have. It doesn’t really matter since it’s all fantastic, home-made, fresh goodness. This is truly one of RI’s best hidden treasures. I encourage you to give it a try.

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