Born in a whitewashed town of southeast Italy, Carol Cassano never lost love for the fine cuisine of Puglia. Here in Canada, she was asked to cater meals on special occasions; one such event was so successful – they demanded more. Within two weeks, her long friend Charlie Rampulla, born in Sicily, bought her a restaurant in Markham – it was 1998; she was quoted saying “I am not a chef, I’m a housewife”. Charlie’s gift was sink or swim, as his participation would be that of a customer, and the occasional Master Plumber. His son, Joey and Carol’s daughter, Cathy, were to manage the restaurant, while Carol stayed true to her nature as the Chef. Cathy and Joey confirmed their partnership by marrying.
For Cathy Rampulla, running a restaurant at age 18 was daunting, but she was a natural at it. Cathy’s sister, Jennifer, too has been involved in the business from the beginning. They were successful in Markham and sold the restaurant after 7 years. The whole family moved to the same neighbourhood in Stouffville – a place where Cathy and Jennifer decided was good for raising children. It wasn’t long before the family grew bored and opened another restaurant, in Ringwood this time; this sandwich shop grew into a full menu, then to fine dining, and finally outgrew itself.
They sold again to buy a much larger place – the downtown site of the current day Pastaggio Italian Eatery. It’s not uncommon to see the 3rd generation of the family come in from school to start their homework in the back of the restaurant, or to head upstairs to the private dining room for tutoring.
“There were years that we made nothing, but it’s a living to be all together as a family”
Every year the restaurant closes for 2 weeks after Christmas so that as many as 30 family members can enjoy a holiday together.
Pastaggio is where you can enjoy a casual dinner in a warm, festive atmosphere, and be welcomed as family after your first visit. Chef Carol and her kitchen associates, who as more like perfectionists, make amazing authentic Italian meals that are presented with care. Pastaggio caters, has take-out, and can accommodate more than 100 people in their upstairs private dining room.