ESO Artisanal Pasta coming to Optimist Hall

CHARLOTTE — ESO Artisanal Pasta will join the growing list of tenants at Charlotte’s Optimist Hall, White Point Partners, Paces Properties, and Bridger Properties announced on Monday.

ESO comes from the husband-wife team of Chefs AJ Sankofa and Kristina Gambarian, who turned their passion for Italian cooking into a nationwide delivery and local pick-up business during the pandemic.

When word of mouth spread about the couple’s handmade pastas and sauces, the artisan pasta shop skyrocketed in popularity with Sankofa appearing on Food Network’s “Chopped” and “The Great Food Truck Race.”

In 2021, ESO opened its first storefront in Morristown, New Jersey. Now, the couple has set their sights on Charlotte, where Chef Sankofa grew up.

“We are beyond ecstatic for this next chapter of ESO and to return to the city of Charlotte, where I spent some of my childhood,” said Sankofa in a news release. “Optimist Hall is an exciting opportunity for us and felt like the perfect place to bring ESO Artisanal Pasta to the next level. We’re looking forward to creating some of the most authentic pasta in the city by using fresh ingredients and familiar flavors with interesting twists.”

Sankofa also studied and lived in Italy where he worked at the Michelin-starred Ristorante Larossa in Torino, working his way up from line cook to pasta cook. Once he returned to the states, Sankofa worked at New York City’s Legacy Records in Hudson Yards where he met his future wife and business partner.

ESO Artisanal Pasta is expected to open in Optimist Hall later this year. It will be next to Schreiber’s on Rye and Zukku Sushi.

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