Putting a dish like pasta in a cone might seem like a wholly American way to rush through a leisurely meal. But for Emanuele Attala, chef and co-owner of the Spaghetti Incident in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the inspiration came from his hometown of Rimini, Italy.
“During the summer they do a festival on the beach … They use this kind of yellow paper, typical for butcher or fish market. Wrapped in a cone in this kind of a paper [is] a salad and pasta,” Attala says. He sourced a high-quality paper and double-layered it to ward off any leakage. The cone is branded with the Spaghetti Incident’s playful logo—a profile with a colander donned as a hat—and has a cover in case customers wish to save it for later.
Attala’s full-service restaurant, Spaghetti Incident, will sell these to-go cones in addition to its traditional plated fare. The restaurant features four types of spaghetti (such as whole wheat and spinach), which patrons can pair with nine types of mixes plus two specials. The menu ranges from classics like the Chitarra, which features homemade mozzarella and basil in a freshly chopped tomato sauce to more daring specials like a pistachio pesto and a squid ink Carbonara.
Attala says that compared with typical cardboard-and-aluminum packaging, the cone is a fun, fresh alternative, in which customers can feel the heat of the pasta in their hands.
“It is much better in the cone, and it’s cool. It looks like ice cream,” he says. “You can try to walk in the street and have the flat plastic to-go [box], you have to stop yourself. With a cone, you can keep walking.”
While Attala is more than happy to accommodate customers, he says that certain dishes—such as those with mussels or other bulk ingredients—might not lend themselves well to the cone format.
To-go customers can order inside the Spaghetti Incident, which features an open-kitchen design, but Attala plans to build an exterior window specifically for the cones. He is also looking to open either a new location or a food truck that is roughly 35 square feet and sells only “Spaghetti in a Cone.”
Attala says he plans to keep prices on par with good street food: $8–$12 for regular menu items or $14 for specials.
As novel as the cones may be and despite praise from visitors and New York media, Attala says he has no plans to trademark the design, which his lawyer said would ultimately prove futile in prevent larger brands from capitalizing on his idea.
“The bigger fish, they eat you, your lawyer, and your cone,” he says.
Instead, he is working to spread the gospel of Spaghetti in a Cone, so the world knows that he was first.
By Nicole Duncan
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