When Skills Meet Passion: Getting to Know the Pasta Mama

It is likely to find a plate of pasta at the heart of a big, Italian supper; and at the heart of many an Italian restaurant: someone whose life’s work is to make it.

Giuseppina Kenney, a.k.a. Pina, is Filomena Ristorante‘s longest-standing Pasta Mama.

Pina, who was born in Foggia, Italy, has been making pasta since she was a little girl. Taught by her mother, the pair would make pasta in their home “almost” five days a week because her father loved pasta — cavatelli, in particular — so much.

“Loved cavatelli with beans. Loved cavatelli with broccoli rabe. Loved cavatelli with tomato. Oh, Gesù Maria!” she said.

Though petite, spotting Pina in the restaurant is easy: the cozy space decorated with tchotchkes of yesteryear that’s designated for Pina (and the other Pasta Mamas) has a large window at its front, making it easy for passersby to admire her craft from the sidewalk outside, or on their way in and out of the restaurant.

And she’d have it no other way.

“Many time, when they leave, these people say, ‘Thank you very much. I’m coming back just for you,'” she says.

Pina has been a part of Washington, D.C.’s, Filomena family for nearly two decades. She works about four days a week.

“This is my life now,” she says. “I like make pasta because it makes me happy.”

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