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From Venice, Italy to St. Pete, Florida: Imagine the pasta-bilities

Veronica Brezina

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When Florida native David Caruso ventured into DalMoros Fresh Pasta To Go in Venice, Italy, he knew he wanted to be the first to bring the brand to the United States -specifically, St. Pete.

DalMoros Fresh Pasta To Go was founded in Venice in 2012 by seventh-generation Venetian Gabriele Dal Moro. The St. Pete location opened in late May inside a 1,000-square-foot space at 653 Central Avenue. The restaurant serves homemade pasta and sauces in to-go-style packaging.

Inside the 1,000-square-foot space of DalMoros’ St. Pete location. The Vitale Brothers painted the mural. 

Caruso and his family, who reside in Sarasota, learned about the popular restaurant franchise over a year ago, which is when he and his father and booked a trip to Italy to experience the to-go concept before pursuing it even further.

“The majority of people in their restaurant were American tourists, so they felt America was this spot for them to open up and we were the door to help do that,” Caruso told the St. Pete Catalyst inside the restaurant as it hustled to prepare for the lunch crowd that would start walking in at 11 a.m.

While Caruso wasn’t formally familiar with operating a restaurant, as his background experience was in logistics and warehouses, which he studied in Boston and at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he nevertheless took a leap of faith.

“When you see something regardless of whether it was your original plan, follow what you believe in,” Caruso said regarding the pivotal career shift.

Pinellas County Commissioner Rene Flowers poses with DalMoros franchisee David Caruso.

His family lives in Sarasota, but he had pictured St. Pete as a better fit for the fast-casual Italian eatery, given the bustling foot traffic on Central Avenue.

“I stuck my foot in the ground and said it’s going in St. Petersburg. It’s a great location for this type of concept and is a walking city,” he said. “There were other options for us that were previous restaurants with the needed setup, but when we saw a location on the 600 Block, that’s when we made the decision even though it would cost more.”

The investment piled up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, which included the machines that had to be imported from Italy. The Covid-19 pandemic was another hurdle to overcome.

“It was extremely troublesome trying to navigate through the pandemic while trying to enter into a new market with a brand new concept,” he said.

The initial plan was to open in September, but the opening was delayed due to the disruption the pandemic caused in the permitting process.

“It got to the point where we had to accept delays, and instead of rushing to the finish line to just open, we paused and took a step back. We can only open our doors one time,” he said.

He said the DalMoros owners would have physically traveled to St. Pete to help with the location selection, design and training.

An imported machine from Italy that DalMoros in St. Pete uses.

“They weren’t able to come here, but we were [at some point] able to send a team member to Venice for training and come back here to train staff,” he said, adding how he had to communicate with the DalMoros team virtually through video chats and sending photos of locations.

In the following weeks, Caruso plans to send more team members to Venice to get trained.

Stirring up growth plans 

Today, the restaurant has 12 team members, but Caruso is looking to add at least five more workers.

“We are constantly trying to find more people. The Covid-19 pandemic really hurt that,” he said.

By adding more team members, Caruso would be able to extend the days and hours the restaurant currently operates (Tuesday through Saturday with limited hours). It would also help DalMoros offer more varieties of pasta options for customers; Caruso said he’s considering adding seafood to the menu.

DalMoros’ pasta and to-go style packaging. 

Caruso says he doesn’t plan to open another St. Pete location as it may cannibalize the existing one, but he is interested in other neighboring markets such as Tampa, Clearwater, Sarasota and Orlando.

He said the company also expressed an interest in out-of-state locations such as Texas, California, the Carolina’s, Georgia and Rhode Island.

“We will be flying to Italy in two weeks to talk about the future of DalMoros as a brand in the U.S. This is something we want to continue to build,” Caruso said.

The grand opening of DalMoros in May. All photos provided by DalMoros.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Steve

    June 12, 2021at4:40 pm

    Cannibalize is an interesting word in your article that you used to describe a restaurant and its food.

  2. Avatar

    TheAdvocate

    June 14, 2021at5:17 pm

    Excellent concept, and cannot wait to experience it.

  3. Avatar

    debra roman

    July 3, 2021at6:49 am

    Surprised they don’t offer a gluten free option. Our family has to skip this place until they figure it out 🙁

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