It’s rare to find a true passion in life, and even rarer to discover one where you can spend every day doing it. But at Placido’s Pasta Shop, owner Joseph Placido has done just that.
“It all started when I found a pasta machine on Craigslist,” he says. “This was in 2012 or 2013. After that, I started a little pasta shop that was focusing on wholesale for a while. While I was learning about the wholesale business, a restaurant space opened up and I’d always wanted to do a restaurant, so I said ‘let’s give it a try.’”
So Placido took his pasta machine into the new space in the Stellaria Building in Eugene and set up shop. “The plan was to start out slow,” he says. “I didn’t want to advertise and overwhelm the staff right away so we could just focus on building it up slowly. But then two articles in the local papers dropped back to back . . . and at that point, we suddenly got really busy and from there, we never stopped.”
Dishes like the smoked salmon ravioli showcase the menu’s homage to Placido’s experience as a cook throughout the years, paying tribute to the Pacific Northwest while drawing from traditional Sicilian cooking. From his Northern Californian roots to his time cooking across Southern Oregon, the coast, and even in Colorado, Placido has taken a piece of each place and infused them into the Sicilian dishes that delight new and returning customers alike.
Everything at Placido’s Pasta Shop is made from scratch and made to order, from the three-ingredient pasta they make fresh every morning to the complex roux for the chicken marsala. Sustainability is a crucial part to how Placido’s operates: All their ingredients are organic, all meats are free of antibiotics and hormones, and any leftover food is composted by the restaurant itself.
“Sustainability is important because we need to take care of the planet,” Placido says. “If we buy a bunch of bad ingredients that are polluting the planet, then we’re not contributing to a good thing by giving them our money. We wanted to make sure we were contributing to the health of the planet and the health of people, too.”
Placido’s is currently located in the Mahonia Building, whose initial construction and continued upkeep are rooted in sustainable practices. Placido says the building itself has a rigorous recycling program that has helped educate him and his employees to create as little waste as possible.
“We wanted to keep everything really simple, but we wanted to use the best ingredients that we could,” Placido says. “We didn’t want to get too crazy with too many twists on traditional favorites. So, we keep it simple, fresh, and use local ingredients where we can. We don’t have anything that’s brought in frozen, processed, or already made. Our idea is we want all raw ingredients to show up at the door and we’ll make them into something.”
Placido defines traditional Sicilian cooking as having a lot of seafood, lighter sauces, easy on the cheese—simply fresh dishes you’d want to eat on a hot day. “I was taught secondhand from a 4-foot-tall, 90-year-old Sicilian woman named Mama,” Placido says. “Everything that she cooked was awesome, super traditional, and a lot of recipes came from her.”
From seasonal dishes like the butternut ravioli in the fall, to classics like the rigatoni arrabiata, there’s never a shortage of flavors in the Placido’s kitchen. “Right now, my favorite meal to eat is the braised pork,” Placido says. “I could eat that every day.”
Customers can always buy fresh pasta from Placido’s for $7 a pound, but soon, you’ll be able to find Placido’s pasta under a different name, OG Noodles, in your local market. Naturally, business has slowed as the pandemic continues on, so Placido has focused on his sister company to pick up the slack.
OG Noodles is the wholesale side of Placido’s business, and they’re now getting ready to officially launch into selling fresh, handmade pasta in the Eugene area. “We’ve got the labels and the packaging machine, and we’re hoping to get into a few local stores soon,” he says.
The next time you’re craving a fresh plate of pasta and a glass of white wine, look no further than Placido’s. Once you order, your handmade pasta is dropped into the boiling pasta water, and while it cooks, the sauce is made from scratch. “It might take a little longer than other places, where they already have everything cooked,” Placido says, “but it’s made fresh and made from scratch, every time.”
Placido’s Pasta Shop | 120 Shelton Mcmurphey Blvd., Ste. 110 | Tues-Fri, 11 am-2 pm, 5-9 pm; Sat-Sun, 11 am-3 pm; 5-9 pm