Three years after conception and the initial wave of popularity from media coverage, the Tampa-based duo sits inside its cozy Pasta Packs space—located at 4334 S Manhattan Ave. in South Tampa—sipping coffee amidst several shipping boxes that will soon be filled with their from-scratch pasta dishes. Pasta Packs’ recent growth and expansion beyond the Bay area are on the Bryon brothers’ minds.
With Chef Nic creating the product itself and Greg handling the business and design side of things, they launched Pasta Packs in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic just a few days after Nic had been laid off from his position as Sous Chef at Oak & Ola.
If you’re not familiar with Pasta Packs, each of its readymade kits comes with detailed instructions (that can also be found via pastapacks.com) and takes no longer than 10 minutes to assemble. The process is as simple as boiling fresh pasta in salted water, then tossing it with the homemade sauce and seasoning with salt and pepper to your taste. Even garnishes like finely-shaved pecorino Romano cheese and lemony breadcrumbs come neatly packaged in disposable ramekins.
When it comes to labor-intensive dishes like the short rib tagliatelle—which requires six hours of braising time—it’s definitely worth the $47 for a ready-made pasta kit that makes two (sometimes three) servings. Even salads and bread and butter appetizers can be added to your purchase for the full restaurant experience in the comfort of your own home.
And with Pasta Packs’ recent partnership with gourmet shipping company Goldbelly, Italian food-lovers on the other side of the country can now enjoy these homemade dishes (although local customers can still pick their orders up from its Tampa headquarters.)
Pasta Packs is the only Tampa-based kitchen that has its products available via Goldbelly, a platform that celebrity chefs—like the legendary Thomas Keller of California’s Bouchon Bakery—and national institutions both utilize (ie., NYC’s Junior’s Cheesecakes and Gino’s in Chicago.)
Pasta kits for four people run between $99.95-$125.99 and feature Chef Nic’s classic entrees like aglio e olio with shrimp and spinach fettuccine with walnut pesto. Greg tells CL that production has increased about 30% since their recent launch with Goldbelly.
“Nationwide shipping is much easier for us to do, compared to a full service restaurant, for example. We already figured out the logistics of how to package and ship the packs as a part of our business model, so expanding in this way made the most sense for us,” Greg explains.
While Pasta Packs has expanded to feed patrons throughout the country, Nic and Greg have also started to offer a unique experience that only customers in Tampa Bay have access to. The Bryons recently opened Pasta Packs’ doors for casual dine-in service and now serves lunch from noon-4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday.
While Pasta Packs classics like its pappardelle bolognese, creamy gnocchi with asparagus and cacio de pepe will always be available to order in to-go form, Nic says that his weekend lunch menu tends to ebb and flow with his creative direction, seasonal flavors and whatever unique ingredients are available in his kitchen.
Its South Tampa location—a strip mall space adjacent to We Vegan Cafe and Greg’s Pep Rally Inc. office—only fits about 25 patrons, so it’s recommended to get there early for Pasta Packs’ first-come-first-serve lunch.
Although its space may not offer a full-service dining experience, its abundance of greenery, natural light spilling from the large windows and tasteful design touches courtesy of Greg still offer the welcoming ambiance of any intimate bistro. And if your eyes gaze upwards, you can see dozens of wooden drying racks that may be filled with fresh pasta on any given day.
“These next few menus should be a lot of fun, I’ll definitely be tapping into some fall-inspired flavors,” Nic says. “Sweet potato gnocchi with sage brown butter, ricotta tortellini—dishes like that.”
Cannolis and cheesecake are offered for dessert, and Chef Nic will also whip up a fancy grilled cheese or plain pasta for any kiddos at weekend lunch service.
Three years since its inception—after dealing with a wave of growth from its initial launch and all of the media coverage that ensued—Pasta Packs is expanding at a pace that makes the most sense for a small scratch kitchen. What started as easy meals for a socially-distant world has evolved into a unique culinary experience with a perpetually-growing national footprint.
With how hard it is to succeed in the restaurant industry with a traditional business model these days (read: tight margins and general inflation) Tampa Bay restaurant watchers may see more local chefs and restaurateurs carve out niches and create ultra-unique concepts like Greg and Nic have. In addition to shipping packs and hosting weekend service, private dinners are still a vital part of their business model.
And when Nic and Greg aren’t packing Goldbelly orders or preparing for their “Pasta Sunday” service, they’re teaching cooking classes to Tampa youth at the University Area Community Development Corporation (UACDC) at a program called “The Sauce.”
“It’s all about connecting with the kids and making food that they’d want to eat,” Greg says. “They needed teachers that could relate to them—since we’re brothers and there’s a lot of siblings in the class—but that look like them, too.”
For the latest news on Pasta Packs and its rotating lunch menus, head to its Instagram at @pastapacks.
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