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From left, Austin Rose, Elson Harms, Dillon McGuire and David Harms have opened up Casetta di Pasta in downtown Albany. The restaurant previously operated out of La Pine in Central Oregon, but shut down there and moved to the mid-valley.

Albany has a new Italian-based restaurant with Casetta di Pasta, which opened in the Two Rivers Market downtown about a month ago.

The business specializes in pasta, of course, but also offers pizza, sandwiches, salads, soups, baked treats and more, including Caribbean, Asian, Hawaiian and Southwest-inspired choices.

The emphasis is on fresh food. “Literally, when you order a dish, we add each ingredient one at a time,” said founder David Harms. The marinara sauce also is made in house.

All dishes are served take-out style — the emphasis is on what’s coming from the kitchen, rather than fancy service.

A pasta and salad bar, with five pasta options, also is available for lunch on weekdays.

“People are really excited to have the addition of a good pasta place in town,” said co-owner Austin Rose, 20.

“We want to bring pasta back to its roots. It’s not an expensive food,” Rose added.

“We want to make it affordable, but made from scratch,” Harms said.

Casetta di Pasta started in Crescent Lake in 2012 at a location that could only sit five tables, then moved to La Pine, but the eatery outgrew that Central Oregon spot, too. Their building also went up for sale, which added uncertainty.

Harms’ parents live in Corvallis, so up-and-coming Albany seemed like a natural fit for the restaurant.

The business is employee-owned by Harms and his workers — 19-year-old Elson Harms, David Harms’ son, Dillon McGuire, 20, and Rose.

The trio of friends were eager to escape sleepy Central Oregon small towns and get to the mid-Willamette Valley. Not that they’ve had much chance to enjoy Albany, since they’re working long hours in the kitchen.

Customers are surprised to learn that the young men own the business, and have been owners for years.

“The shock was definitely a lot more when we were 16, 17,” Rose said.

Rose wouldn’t change a thing about being a business owner. “This is definitely better than college, I’d say. You get to do something you like,” he added.

David Harms said that his son, Rose and McGuire have improved the recipes he created. “Sometimes when I touch a pan, they take it over because they’re afraid,” he said.

He added that his dream is to make Casetta di Pasta into a small chain of eateries. “These boys would like to have their own restaurants one day,” David Harms said.

So far, the bacon-chicken-chipotle fettuccine and sandwich wraps, where the wraps are made of Parmesan cheese, have been hot sellers.

The baked goodies at the restaurant are made by Christi Reynolds, David Harms’ sister.

The business also does large to-go catering meals.

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Kyle Odegard can be reached at kyle.odegard@lee.net, 541-812-6077 or via Twitter @KyleOdegard.

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Business Reporter