Every day, the kitchen at Hank's Pasta Bar in Alexandria goes through 40 pounds of flour. That's about how much it takes to make the 13 types of fresh pasta on the menu at the new restaurant just opened by chef Jamie Leeds.
Years ago, Leeds and Nicolas Flores, the Hank's Pasta Bar executive chef, bonded over his rendition of linguine with white clam sauce, a longtime favorite of Leeds that she grew up eating thanks to her dad. Flores has worked for much of the last decade in the kitchen at Hank's Oyster Bar in Old Town, and the two chefs had long dreamed of collaborating on a pasta project.
Getting it off the ground involved tasting trips to New York and Philadelphia. Flores and Leeds came up with a list of their favorite pastas, which they're now serving to diners in generous, lightly sauced 4-ounce portions.
"We don't want the pasta swimming in sauce," Leeds said. "We want the pastas to shine."
Many of the pastas -- which are paired with sauces depending on their shape -- are the handiwork of "pasta mama" Maribel Salamanca, who starts making the fresh stuff each morning. Someone else takes over for a bit in the evening, adding up to about "14 hours of continual pasta-making," Leeds said.
Why go to that effort? Not only does fresh pasta cook faster -- around two minutes generally -- but Leeds said it's simultaneously more delicate and chewy than dried varieties.
The seasonal pasta menu highlights a variety of house-made pasta shapes, some familiar and some less so. (The full menu also includes antipasti, small plates and fish and meat entrees.)
Here's a visual guide to get you educated -- and hungry.
Little pillows filled with roasted, pureed beets mixed with goat cheese and topped with butter, black pepper and tarragon.
Duck ravioli ($19)
Duck legs and thighs are cooked in their own fat (confit) for six-to-eight hours for the filling. The ravioli are topped with a thyme and butter sauce that features reduced duck stock.
A classic aglio e olio, simply dressed with extra-virgin olive oil, garlic and Hank's addition of shaved bottarga (cured fish roe).
Topped with slow-braised beef, carrots, onions and garlic.
Like spaghetti, but thicker and with a hole running through the middle (also, made a cameo on Aziz Ansari's "Master of None" on Netflix). Cherry tomato sauce coats the noodles, accompanied by julienned prosciutto that mimics their shape.
This characteristically ear-shaped pasta is tossed with an arugula pesto.
The rippled edges of these wide noodles are perfect for catching pieces of fennel sausage, which is paired with cream and spinach.
Short, wide tubes mixed with chopped, roasted vegetables, including eggplant, peppers and onions.
Butternut squash ravioli ($17)
These stuffed rounds are full of roasted butternut squash. When cooked, they're topped with cream and walnuts.
Like the fettucine, this pasta is hand-cut but sports a wavy pattern on the edge. It's topped with a lamb ragu, made with meat braised for 10 hours in lamb stock.
Often consisting of potatoes, Hank's makes its dumplings with parsnips. The dish also features crab, cherry tomatoes and spinach.
Italian for "half moon," this pasta is crimped by hand with a fork around a filling that includes winter greens, smoked mozzarella and ricotta. The dish is served with a white-wine butter sauce with sage.
The wild mushroom lasagna with a bechamel sauce is served in a round shape to facilitate individual portions.
Hank's Pasta Bar, 600 Montgomery St., Alexandria, 571-312-4117. hankspastabar.com. 5 to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5 to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled the name of Maribel Salamanca. This version has been updated.