Lilly’s Gourmet Pasta Express, a takeout pasta franchise, opened Monday on Whitney Ave.
Manager Karen Pritts said she hopes the delivery service, long hours and healthy options will appeal to New Haven college students. The first franchise to open outside Massachusetts, the regional chain has three other restaurants in the Boston area.
Antonio D’Alelio, who currently oversees the business operations of Lilly’s, expanded the pasta-making business into a restaurant chain. D’Alelio named the restaurant chain after his mother, Lilly D’Alelio, because he wanted to give her the credit she deserved for her cooking talent, he said. He said he wants to expand the business to other parts of the East Coast. D’Alelio added that although he expects to manage 20 to 30 restaurant locations in Connecticut, he will not extend the chain west of the Mississippi River.
Pritts said she had been looking to open her own business for the past two years. She decided to open a Lilly’s franchise onthe advice of a friend who said Lilly’s “concept of food is good.”
Lilly’s Gourmet Pasta Express uses the recipes ofAntonio’s mother Lilly, who came to the U.S. from Milan about 20 years ago with her son, Antonio D’Alelio. Lilly entered the business world when she started selling her homemade pasta in a store in Everett, Mass.,and Antonio expanded the pasta-making into a restaurant chain.
The chain emphasizes homemade and healthy pasta, made in the business’s Everett headquarters according to Lilly’s recipe. Made with semolina-purified wheatrather than white flour, Lilly’s pasta has a much lower gluten base than most, said Pritts, which helps digestion. She added that after spending two weeks eating Lilly’s pasta for lunch and dinner, she lost six pounds. “I was so happy, I was like crying,” she added.“It was wonderful.”
Pritts said her franchise is like a “big sauté.” Lilly’s in New Haven receives all of its pasta from Boston and sautés the actual meal when customers order at the restaurant, she said. Although desserts are also received from Boston, Pritts said she buys local produce from different distributors.
Pritts also said the store will be convenient for college students.
The New Haven franchise has long hours, closing at 2 a.m.from Thursday to Saturday, and at midnight on Sunday.
The business also offers a delivery servicestaff of threetofour drivers, D’Aleliosaid.
D’Alelio emphasized that Lilly’s customers can customize their orders. Customers can choose their own sauce and add their own toppings so “every creation can be different.”
Six of eight students interviewed said they would consider eating at Lilly’s. Three cited prices as the deciding factor in ordering, but five liked the idea of creating their own dish.
“I think it’d be cool to go to a restaurant where you can make your own pasta,” Giovanni Forcina’14 said. “I couldget [pasta] whenever I want,” he added.
In an effort to attract students, customers who order online will receive 30 percent off of their first order until Christmas, D’Alelio said.
Lilly’s is located at 9Whitney Ave.