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Chronquiry: What happened to Il Forno small pasta?

A new Duke semester means refilled meal plans. But in line at Italian staple Il Forno, students realized they could no longer use their food points on a “small” pasta. 

The Il Forno renovation over the summer led to the removal of the small pasta option, leaving students with only the regular-size pasta. Duke Dining discontinued the small-sized pasta this summer based on customer reviews, according to Robert Coffey, executive director of dining services. The change also allowed Il Forno to increase “product consistency.” 

“Proper portioning for a number of different size options for pasta dishes was difficult,” Coffey said.

With this change, Duke Dining is able to provide more consistent nutritional information. Discontinuing the small size helped to address student complaints that the Il Forno line was too long, Coffey added. Wait time in line has been cut by half since the change. 

Although the small pasta option is gone, Coffey said Il Forno still offers a vegetarian option for $7.00 and a sauce-and-pasta only option for $5.50. Il Forno also added some new dishes: cured pancetta and olive oil pasta, Italian braised beef pasta and salmon alfredo.

Still, some students are disappointed they have to purchase the larger portion size. 

“I’m beefing with Il Forno right now. Let me tell you, this regular was never regular. It’s a large! And they got rid of the small, which was just enough food to sustain you,” said sophomore Parker Betts. 

For sophomore Shrey Majmudar, a self-described Italian pasta enthusiast, the disappearance of small pasta from Il Forno’s menu came as a severe disappointment. He first noticed the change during a visit from his father and sister on the Saturday of move-in weekend this fall.  

“I went into the line looking for my usual small pasta bowl, and they were like, ‘Well, we don’t have it anymore,” Majmudar wrote in an email to The Chronicle. “And I was like, ‘What the hell?’”  

Small pasta had become one of Majmudar’s favorite West Union dishes during his first year, a cheap and filling meal that he could grab before heading to Perkins.  

But now, on those occasions that he purchases pasta from Il Forno, he finds himself forking over more food points for a hefty platter of pasta that he rarely ever finishes. 

“I've had the default/regular-sized pasta bowl once or twice since school started, and it's just consistently too much food to eat for me,” Majmudar said.  “A good fourth or third of the food ends up going to waste!” 

In his email, Majmudar also referenced a Fix My Campus Facebook Group thread on the matter which has garnered over 150 likes and reactions.

Senior Samantha Morales created the original post that sparked the thread. She wrote in the post that eating the current sized pastas forces her to either waste food or feel “grossly full.” 

She echoed this sentiment in a phone interview with The Chronicle in which she described the regular pasta size as “just way too big.” Similar to Majmudar, Morales also misses the cheap price of the small pasta.

The economical nature of the small pastas also made them attractive to senior Esha Shah, who needed to find cheaper options to accommodate her limited Resident Assistant (RA) food plan.

Although she describes herself as a “big fan” of the small pasta option, Shah also acknowledges that the change has boosted efficiency at one of West Union’s most crowded spots, and that before the change, Il Forno workers often faced a difficult time in differentiating between the small and regular sizes. 

“I have noticed that ever since they’ve made the switch to regular, it’s been more consistent,” she said.   

But, for Betts, as long as small pastas are off the menu, his “beef” with Il Forno continues.  

“I guess I’ll just have to get my pasta somewhere else,” he said.  

Editor's note: This article is a product of our service we call Chronquiry. A reader submitted a question, other readers voted on the question and The Chronicle got the answer. If you have a question you would like answered about anything related to Duke, visit dukechronicle.com/page/chronquiry or submit a question below:  

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