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KANSAS CITY

In Kansas City, Zero Zero Pasta offers creative pastas made from Midwestern flour on a weekly basis

During the pandemic, Mitchell Fagan and Leah Steinberg made handmade pasta at home for dinner a couple nights a week, just to pass the time. The result was a lot of trial and error that eventually led to some marvelous pasta meals – ones they wanted to share with others.

As a fourth-year medical student at Kansas City University studying emergency medicine, Fagan’s plate was already plenty full, but Steinberg convinced him that with her marketing skills and his perfectly made pasta, they could make a go at starting their own business together.

“We got to thinking during the pandemic how everyone wanted to eat restaurant food, but no one could go out, so we thought it could be an interesting time to start our own pasta-making business. We both knew fresh pasta was not something most people do at home,” Fagan says. “We thought it could be something that could bring people a little joy, something to look forward to each week.”

Within a few minutes of launching Zero Zero Handmade Pasta’s website and Instagram page, they had their first order, and the couple has been selling out each week for the past year.

Fagan has been making pasta since high school, when he would use his parent’s hand-crank pasta-maker to make noodles at home. But his passion truly blossomed after a trip to Italy three years ago, when he had the chance to watch some Italian grandmothers make all different kinds of shapes and sizes of pasta that went well beyond flat noodles. When he came home from that trip, he began practicing pasta-making at home in earnest, and he never stopped.

“I am a good student by nature, and I love researching things, which is probably why I went into medicine,” Fagan says. “I am self-taught in most things that interest me, including pasta-making.”

Every week, Fagan offers a creative variety of regular and stuffed pastas. In addition to making more well-known pastas like pappardelle, farfalle, tortellini and ravioli, Fagan has also offered lesser-known varieties, like his favorite, agnolotti, filled with butternut squash, carrot or lemon-garlic mascarpone. There have also been squid ink-, beet-, spinach- and cocoa-flavored pastas.

“I get a lot of my filling and flavor inspirations from the amazing produce Brooke [Salvaggio] and Dan [Heryer] grow at Urbavore Farm,” Fagan says.

Offering a single pasta each week, Zero Zero Handmade Pasta opens its orders every Friday through Wednesday (or until they sell out.) Fagan and Steinberg make pasta orders on Wednesday evenings and deliver the fresh pasta to customer’s doors on Thursdays in a small cooler with an ice pack. Pastas can also be delivered through Market Wagon, or you can find them at the Brookside Farmers’ Market on weekends.

Starting with only the finest local ingredients, Fagan uses locally milled flour from Kansas City-based Marion Milling, owned by longtime miller and baker Will Berndt and Ibis Bakery founder Chris Matsch. He takes that flour, along with free-range organic eggs from Urbavore Farm and high-quality extra-virgin olive oil, to create his perfect pasta dough.

“We used to buy ‘00’ flour off the shelf to make our pasta, but then we found Marion Milling who make local flour, stone-ground from regionally grown wheat. It has a more toothsome texture and much more complex flavor,” Fagan says. “I also believe that using stone-ground flour from more heritage wheat varietals also has more nutrients in it. The flour just tastes better.”

And with their first employee hired, the couple is now free to focus even more on the dough-filled future of their business.

To order pasta, head to Zero Zero’s website or Instagram

Zero Zero Pasta, zerozeropastakc.com

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