Pasta is such a versatile dish. It’s hard to find a noodle you don’t love. Linda Croley took her love of pasta, of fresh ingredients and of Birmingham and started Bare Naked Noodles. Locals love her amazing noodles and sauces. They can be found in Birmingham grocery stores, at farmers markets and at the Bare Naked Noodles café in Hoover. Be on the lookout for the opening of their second location on Lakeshore!

1. What do you think makes Birmingham a unique city for food lovers?

Birmingham is home to some of the most creative food minds. If you love food and you love being adventurous, this city is the place to be. It’s amazing to see the growth over the years. Our food scene has taken tremendous strides. That is part of the reason I felt so compelled to start Bare Naked Noodles. I felt there was niche market for my Southern Italian inspired foods and that’s how we began.

A plate of ravioli pasta.2. For someone who may not be very familiar with fresh pasta, what sort of tips would you recommend for making it perfectly al dente?

The trick is to not overcook. If the directions say 10 minutes, check your pasta at the 8 minute mark (because it is probably already done.)

3. What is your favorite type of pasta?

That’s a hard question especially since we are pasta lovers over here. I would have to say that right now our Lemon Orzo pasta is number one! It has this bold and beautiful flavor that is just so summery and fresh tasting. Flavored pastas can just really amp up a dish and this heavy weather means people don’t want heavy foods. We started experimenting with our Lemon Orzo two years ago and had tremendous success. Now it is one of our bestsellers.

4. Why do you think it is important to use fresh and local ingredients?

Locality is important to us not only because of fresh tastes that are the basis for what we stand for but because we are born and bred in Birmingham. We want to support Birmingham and its growth. You can’t do that without buying fresh and local ingredients.

5. What is your favorite thing to do in Birmingham?

We are pasta lovers but definitely food lovers in general. I am a fan of trying out new food places around Birmingham. The farmers markets around town are super fun as well.

Photos courtesy of Bare Naked Noodles.