Ben Herreid got his culinary start in a tiny sandwich shop he owned in Vermont when he was 19. The shop was a disaster. “It was like my education. It was probably as expensive as a college education, in fact. I was really young. I was really naïve. But things like cost control, employee management and location I really took to heart,” he said.
Eventually he put that experience behind him, married a girl from Tacoma and started a family. Restaurants were out of his life for a while, but one day he decided to leave his job selling furniture to work his way up from dishwasher to pasta maker at Marzano Italian Restaurant in Parkland. He started a side business selling sauces and raviolis at local farmers markets. After a successful Go Fund Me campaign in 2014, Herreid opened the doors to his first restaurant, Arista, with his sister, Margaret. He runs the kitchen, and she manages the front of house. The spot, located in the former Central Perk coffee shop adjacent to Pioneer Park, is steps away from the Puyallup farmers market where he had been selling their products for the last two years.
Italian is the general genre at Arista, and much of the menu focus is on handmade pasta. “What I like about [handmade pasta] is that it’s something simple, but people aren’t going to have the time to do it at home very often. It’s a craft, but it’s not as if handmade pasta is hard to understand like haute cuisine. It’s accessible, but most people won’t really do it for themselves,” he said.
The Herreids work to keep the menu at Arista as seasonable as possible, changing up menu items frequently. A recent late-winter menu included rustic pasta dishes like crab and shrimp ravioli (handmade crab-and-shrimp-filled ravioli served in romesco cream sauce with crisp pancetta and oven-roasted tomato); chive and ricotta gnocchi (handmade chive and ricotta gnocchi with Puttanesca sauce and green onion chiffonade); and cavatelli all’amatriciana (handmade semolina cavatelli pasta served with a rich tomato and pancetta sauce), all for under $20. Other entrees include pork belly (braised pork belly with sweet potato and apple hash, Brussels sprouts and pomegranate gastrique); seared beef tenderloin with spinach ricotta ravioli, Brussels sprouts and Arista Dijon steak sauce); and Northwest cioppino with fresh angel hair pasta.
Herreid said the pasta that really started grabbing people’s taste buds was the mushroom Madeira ravioli. What has become the restaurant’s signature ravioli uses mushrooms from Rolling Rocks Farms, a Graham-based mushroom farm that works the local market circuit. Arista sources from other local farms and businesses, too, including Puyallup’s Valley Farms for produce and Eatonville’s Tattered Apron Bakery for desserts.
You can still find Arista’s handmade sauces and pastas at local farmers markets. Herreid is keen on keeping the operation small for now, opting to focus on quality over quantity. He wouldn’t balk at a chance for his pasta to be at small specialty food stores or in other restaurants, but that’s currently the extent to of his product line’s outreach. Ben hopes to add cooking classes, beer and wine dinners and potential guest chef nights to Arista’s offerings. “Our raviolis are at Chambers Bay Grill, which is great, and a few other Italian restaurants have been using our stuff here and there. But we’re small, and we don’t want to be big and commercial. We want to maintain our identity and keep growth at that level,” he said.
When you go
Arista Italian Restaurant
109 W. Pioneer
Open daily for lunch and dinner, 11am-8:30pm