What started on a trip in Italy travelled all the way back to Hillsdale. With homemade pasta and freshly baked Italian cookies, Mangia! is now a new staple at the Hillsdale County Farmers’ Market.
The pasta company, founded and operated by Gianna Green and her husband Tim, is a culmination of the Green’s family traditions. Green says that she has been making pasta since she was a kid.
“My family is very Italian and it is very traditional in our family to make pasta and to make raviolis for Christmas,” Green said. “The whole idea of making pasta and the love that goes into pasta making is so important to me. It feeds my soul.”
It wasn’t until she traveled to Italy for a vacation that Green thought to open a pasta company of her own. While she was in Europe, Green took several pasta-making classes and sampled different pasta types.
“I was like, ‘Wow, why do I even have a job? Why don’t I just make pasta and eat pasta all day?’ But then I thought ‘that’s not lucrative,’” Green said.
But that didn’t stop her from following her passion. Soon after,Green partnered with her friend and fellow Italian traveler Sarah Borger to create a homemade pasta company of their own. Also an alumna of Hillsdale, Borger helped Green with the branding of Mangia! and created all the graphic designs.
For branding, Green wanted to keep the designs simple and rustic-looking. She utilizes olive branches when setting up her farmer’s market booth, both for their aesthetic and symbolic aspects.
“It’s a big symbol in Italian culture,” Green said. “Olive trees grow everywhere in Italy and they live forever and so at weddings it is traditional to shower the bride and groom with olive leaves as if you are wishing eternity upon them.”
When it comes to cooking the pasta and cookies, however, the task falls on Green and her husband. Their recipes come from a mixture of family traditions, Italian cooking classes, and Green’s own experimentation.
“I experimented all summer with pasta making, making my own flours, figuring out the proper way to dry pasta and keep pasta so it keeps its fresh flavor and doesn’t get icky,” Green said.
Her husband was the first taste tester for Mangia!
“He had fresh pasta for the first time this year and loved it, which was also encouraging for me to keep going,” Green said.
Tim Green said that the first taste of fresh pasta was “wildly better than store bought pasta.” As the business grows, Green said she especially values her husband’s help in the company.
“Our kitchen is very small so it is nice to have extra hands to cook pasta,” Green said.
Some pastas, like gnocchi, are rolled by hand, while others are cut out with a machine. The couple spent the entire summer mastering the perfect pasta recipe, experimenting with all different types of flour, said Green. Preparing for the Saturday morning farmer’s market sales is an all week affair for the Greens.
“We pretty much rest Monday and Tuesday. I start thinking about things on Wednesday and then Thursday and Friday are our big cook days,” Green said.
The hard work is much appreciated by Mangia!’s customers. Senior Ana Bogdonovich first tried Mangia! pasta after purchasing a bag at the SAB Maker’s Market. She said that she noticed a huge difference between store bought pasta and Mangia!’s.
“I had never had homemade pasta before and it is definitely a different texture and flavor in the best way possible,” Bogdonovich said. “You can definitely tell that the ingredients are a higher quality and there is a lot more flavor. It tastes what I imagine a traditional pasta to taste like.”
Mangia! pasta and cookies are only sold at the Hillsdale County Farmer’s Market for now, but the business will soon sell at Ad Astra Coffee Co.
“Once the farmer’s market ends, we will have a booth there on Saturday mornings,” Tim Green said.
Green said she could not be more happy about Mangia!’s success so far.
“My soul is an Italian grandma soul and so I just want to feed people and put dishes on tables,” she said.