In a back corner of Pasta Plus in Laurel restaurant, Maria Mejia reigns supreme.
With seemingly little effort, Mejia’s hands fly over balls of dough, creating the restaurant’s specialty homemade noodles from scratch, including spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine and ravioli.
Her expertise doesn’t stop there.
Celebrating her 25th year with the restaurant, Mejia is also responsible for making the thin crepes that are the backbone of the restaurant’s unique dishes, including cannelloni (crepes stuffed with veal and vegetables), timballo alla termamo (crepes with ground beef, mozzarella and tomato sauce) and crespoline (crepes stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese).
“It is really a typical dish for Abruzzi. It is done only in this area, the province where we come from,” said Max Mazziotti, who co-owns the restaurant on Gorman Avenue just off Route 1 with his brother Sabatino. “It takes a long time to make crepes one by one.”
For Mejia, making the crepes means moving quickly between several frying pans, dropping spoonfuls of batter into them and quickly tilting the pans back and forth to coat.
“She’s pretty good,” Max Mazziotti mused as Mejia worked, snatching a hot crepe from a plate where she was stacking them.
“They’re good,” he said.
Of course, Mazziotti believes everything on the menu at Pasta Plus is good. From its beginnings 36 years ago as a fast-food pasta restaurant to its evolution into a full-fledged Italian restaurant, Pasta Plus has had a loyal customer base because of its homemade dishes.
“Since we’ve opened up, there have been lines,” Mazziotti said. “We’ve been lucky.”