Rather than spend his time ordering to-go cocktails and binging everything on Netflix, John Sweeney spent COVID developing a fast-casual restaurant concept, and recently, that concept swung open its doors on Main Street in Williiamsville.
A’mano Fresh Pasta has a lot in common with restaurants like Chipotle or Fresh Catch Poke. These concepts use rice as a platform for different flavor combinations, and Sweeney thought the same could be done with pasta. Using his 11 years of experience as food service manager at UB, Sweeney applied his industry know-how to bring A’mano to life.
“I knew a fast-casual concept with pasta was doable,” he says. “But I decided that the right way to be different is to not use boxed noodles. So I spent some time during COVID learning how to make fresh pasta, and realized just how quickly you can cook it.”
Sweeney wasn’t the only one starting a new business during COVID. A lack of work combined with government assistance allowed a lot of people to activate business plans they had been sitting on. More than 4.4 million US businesses were created during 2020, according to the Census Bureau. That’s the highest one-year total on record and 51 percent higher than the average over the past decade.
Creating A’mano during the pandemic required a lot of research. After developing his fresh pasta process, Sweeney enlisted some collaborators and started developing his menu. Sweeney began with 30 dishes an initial cut reduced that count to 15 dishes. Those dishes went through a blind tasting process that assigned grades to each dish. Ultimately, the menu was narrowed down to eight signature dishes. One signature dish highlight is the rigatoni alla norma ($9.49 small, $14.49 large) — with eggplant, ricotta and basil in a seasoned red sauce. Another is the bucatini all’ Amatriciana ($9.49, $14.49) — with pancetta and Romano cheese in red sauce.
You can also go with a build-your-own option ($8.49 small, $12.49 large) that includes a choice of pasta, choice of sauce; choices of seasoning like white wine, basil, or oregano; four choices of ingredients like spinach, shaved parmesan or fresh red chili; and two choices of toppings, like fresh basil or toasted breadcrumbs. Additional gourmet ingredients like Italian sausage or shrimp are available for $2.99 each.
In addition to pasta dishes, A’mano also has sandwiches, salads and desserts. Sweeney said the food at A’mano is based on the idea that good Italian cooking demands fresh ingredients.
“It’s not about having a lot of different ingredients,” he says. “It’s about quality and how you put ingredients together.”
There are also a good range of beverage options designed to suit different kinds of customers. People looking to grab a quick meal on their lunch break might want sparkling water or a cappuccino. Those grabbing some pasta on their night out can opt for beer or wine.
Creating fast-casual concept around fresh pasta is a brilliant idea, but it’s also a spin on an already-successful concept. Frankly, it’s kind of shocking that we haven’t seen one before. Sweeney says he’s still tweaking the formula, but he’s confident that Williamsville will support it.
“We felt like this location would be a perfect starting point for us,” he says. “With our emphasis on fresh pasta, I thought people in this area would be willing to immediately explore what we’re offering.”
Hours at time of publishing (Subject to change): Tuesday to Saturday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Sunday 4 p.m. – 9 p.m., Monday CLOSED
5429 Main St, Williamsville, NY 14221 • $$Italian
Take Out, Fast Casual / Counter Service
Fresh locally sourced ingredients, combined to create delectable made-to-order pasta dishes in a fast casual setting. Read Our Article About Their Opening [sm_anypost ...
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