Winter is all about comfort food.
Whether you enjoy outdoor activities such as ice fishing, snowmobiling and skiing, or have just spent an afternoon cleaning snow away after the latest winter storm, nothing can beat a favourite hot meal.
‘Tis the season for Toffanello’s Fresh Pasta in Timmins.
“When it snows, I call it retail sunshine,” said Krysta Kiraga, owner of Toffanello’s Fresh Pasta, with a laugh. “People are looking for something warm and comforting. I think that describes everything I sell here.”
Over the past 32 years, the business has become a local icon. Kiraga purchased the business from Mark Toffanello in 2014. And she has been cooking up old favourites and expanding the variety ever since.
“I make about 120 pounds of fresh pasta every day,” she said. “With that, you can get it cut fresh into your favourite noodle or we make cannelloni, ravioli, lasagne, gnocchi. We do some stuffed pasta as well.
“I’ve got some different portioning and different ways you can enjoy your pasta as well, depending how many people you’re serving or if it’s just individually. I also serve a hot lunch from 11:30 to 1, it’s just a grab-and-go lunch.”
Walking into the store while a fresh batch of sauce is cooking wakes up your senses. The aroma fills the building.
“I make 30 gallons of sauce every day,” Kiraga said. “Me and two other people inside that sauce kettle. We do this every day. We’ve got lasagnas on the go. I make seven different kinds of lasagna and I’ve got five different sizes.”
The homemade sauces can be purchased separately or combined with pastas.
“I have the marinara sauces, some with meat, some without,” she said. “I do an alfredo sauce, which is your typical cream sauce. I also do a pesto alfredo and then a rosé, which is two parts alfredo one part tomato. And then I do pesto as well. I have a sun-dried tomato pesto and a basil pesto. We also do garlic oil, which is a really good thing to cook with.
“Vegetarian is really easy to do. I actually have a big heart for a lot of vegetarian products.”
There are pasta options available for every level of cook.
“When I say I have differing variety of pastas, what I mean is I have different ways to prepare it,” Kiraga said. “I have it as simple as toss it in the microwave — not that I’m trying to encourage microwave cooking — or boil a pot of water and it toss the whole thing in there and it cooks it through.
“You can actually buy your ravioli and your sauce separately or you buy some cheese, some fresh pasta and you can stuff your own ravioli. I’ll give you all the instructions. I encourage people to cook at home. I think it’s good for you. It’s good for the soul. That’s a good part of comfort food too, cooking from home.”
She is picky about the ingredients for all the food sold at Toffanello’s. She even offers items imported from Italy.
“I try very hard to source things that are directly from Italy or local,” Kiraga explained. “There are often things you can’t get anywhere else. I have a few lines of products that you can’t get anywhere else in Timmins — all my variety of olives and then flavoured oils.”
Other ingredients are only a few steps away.
“I source all my meat from Dabrowski’s and all my bread from the bakery next door (Golden Crust),” she said. ”We have a nice little neighbourhood.
“The bakery is closed on Mondays, so they give me a rack of their top sellers, just in case a customer comes all the way here, at least it’s still on the block and they can grab a loaf of bread if they want.”
Toffanello’s also has a tradition of giving back to the community.
“We always have some fundraising,” she said. “Anyone that buys a build your own lasagna kit is supporting the Timmins Anti-Hunger Coalition. That’s a $2 donation every time you buy one of those.
“It’s just everything you need to make a lasagna. Throughout the pandemic, a lot of people are challenging themselves to stay home and actually cook things.”
Looking for a gift for a special occasion or as a thank you? Toffanello’s has you covered.
“I’ve made up some really great gift baskets for anyone who wants to start cooking at home,” Kiraga said. “I think food, over the holiday season, whether it’s a donation to someone who is unable to source a holiday meal for themselves or just wants to give something to someone who means a lot to them and would like to celebrate.
“Food is really well received because it is useful. It’s not just stuff that will end up wasted. It’s nourishing, comforting for sure.”
She takes pride in producing delicious comfort food enjoyed by Timmins and area residents.
“I like knowing that my products aren’t chock-full of preservatives,” Kiraga said. “Fresh pasta has a two-day shelf life because it’s just flour eggs and water made by hand. It’s for people who are really willing to embrace the lack of preservatives in your food.”
Toffanello’s Fresh Pasta is located at 119 Wilson Ave. in Timmins. It is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Check out their website at www.toffanellosfreshpasta.com or find them on Facebook.