West End’s new-look CJ’s Pasta launches its divine secret pasta club
Few things bring us quite as much joy as freshly cooked pasta. We’re not talking about the mass-produced kind – we’re into artisan-crafted ravioli parcels, pillowy piles of gourmet gnocchi and springy spaghetti. The pasta-loving crew behind South Bank’s The Spaghetti House Trattoria have long been dishing out the kind of pasta dishes we vibe, but when its beloved pasta supplier CJ’s Pasta shut its doors last year it fell onto The Spaghetti House team to take over. The popular providore Pasta has relaunched with some new ownership, a new location and a new secret dinner service, effortlessly making us fall in love with pasta all over again.
The CJ’s Pasta brand is one that traces its beginnings back to the mid-90s, when its original James Street location first started producing batches of primo pasta. Owners David and Sonya Cotelli eventually moved CJ’s south of the Brisbane River to Horan Street in West End, where it grew into a cherished culinary institution. During this time CJ’s started supplying fresh pasta to The Spaghetti House Trattoria, being one of the only outfits around that could supply the sheer amount of pasta consumed at the bustling South Bank eatery. Last year CJ’s Pasta’s Horan Street location was reclaimed by the government in order to expand the grounds of West End State School, and David and Sonya chose to retire from the pasta business instead of finding another location to start fresh. Enter The Spaghetti House’s owner Claire Parviz, who volunteered to purchase the company after discovering that no other supplier could match the sheer amount of product her restaurant moved weekly. Over a period of two months Claire searched for a new space that could not only house a commercial kitchen, but also a retail shopfront. The ideal spot was found on Hoogley Street in West End in the former home of a catering business, and after a few months of installing new pasta-making equipment and servicing existing gear, the new-look CJ’s Pasta was up and running.
Once the kitchen and retail elements were purring smoothly, Claire and her daughter Leila discussed the possibility of doing more with the space. The idea to open up for a casual lunch and dinner service resonated, and over two weeks the duo brought in some recycled furnishings to create CJ’s Secret Pasta Club, an informal-yet-welcoming space where pasta-loving patrons could sample an ever-changing menu of dishes made fresh by the experts. Executive chef Dario Milano and his culinary crew have been given creative license to experiment and have fun with the fare, which at any given point will encompass four-to-five pasta dishes as well as foccacias, paninis, arancini and a dessert. Dario is imbuing his own northwest Italian roots into the menu, utilising a simple palette of ingredients to elevate the hand-cut pasta. Combined with an intimate atmosphere, this 14-seat venue is ideal for pasta purists, lovers of wholesome fare and the dressed-down local set (Claire and Leila stress that everyone is welcome at CJ’s Secret Pasta Club). Also worth mentioning – CJ’s Secret Pasta Club is BYO-friendly, and meals are available takeaway or through Uber Eats.
CJ’s Pasta opens its retail portion from 8:00 am Monday through Saturday, while CJ’s Secret Pasta Club opens for lunch and dinner from 12:00–8:00 pm Monday to Friday. Head to the Stumble Guide for more details.
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.