Food Entrepreneur NEW YORK — Pastazerts is exactly what its name implies — pasta combined with dessert.

Co-founders and husband and wife team Stephanie Berwick and Joel Rumpf wanted to provide consumers with a special treat to enhance the dessert experience at home. Noticing there were limited frozen chocolate ravioli brands on the market, the pair took a chance and launched Pastazerts in August 2023.

Rumpf has been a chef for more than 30 years and Berwick has a background in business. The couple dreamed up the original idea for the company’s signature product as they prepared for a cooking competition.

“This all started with World Food Championships in 2013 and 2014,” Berwick said. “We wanted to come up with something really innovative for one of the three dishes, and we got to use chocolate ravioli for both years of the competition. Fast-forward post-COVID, (and) I thought that it was time to get out of my corporate career and become an entrepreneur. I considered what path that could be, and chocolate ravioli always came back into the conversation.”

Pastazerts is a thin layer of chocolate dough formulated from organic cocoa powder that combines a dark chocolate flavor with a cream cheese filling. The company even uses leftover chocolate ravioli dough to make chocolate fettuccine, which is only available on its website.

Chocolate ravioli flavors include strawberry cheesecake, peanut butter and jelly, fig, peppermint and piña colada.

“We’re trying to be something different on the shelf of traditional desserts,” Berwick said.

The chocolate ravioli is currently offered in a frozen format for convenience and to provide a longer shelf life.

“We bake them in the manufacturing process then we freeze them,” Berwick said. “The course of product development is to get more of a refrigerated-type product over time. We want to grow and add some pasteurization processes and want to be more shelf-stable later on.”

To prepare the product at home, consumers may choose to eat the chocolate ravioli frozen or warmed.

“An elevated experience is to heat them up for a couple of minutes,” Berwick said.

As a luxury dessert brand, Pastazerts are sold for between $12.99 and $15.99 to target those willing to try something new but also willing to spend more for the elevated experience, Berwick said.

“Being in the ice cream aisle, I’m competing with all frozen desserts,” she said. “A lot of them are very low-cost. That’s why the focus on the product is the high-end cocoa powder. We have to stick with that and the luxury piece. We don’t want to compromise on taste.”

In keeping with the luxury dessert aspect, the company, which began as direct-to-consumer, is aiming to target larger retailers and the travel industry.

“We want to understand how we can produce faster and more efficiently on the operations side,” Berwick said. “Staying true to flavors and (the) quality of our product is big for us. Then we will talk about going regional then national. We’ve been working with smaller boutiques and now larger chain restaurants.

“I used to fly for work, and I was served tiramisu or fancier desserts on longer trips. I could see Pastazerts on a Delta flight or even a cruise line. Those are aspirations.”

Having just launched last year, the company is crowdfunding to expand operations.

“We’re using NuMarket, so it will be more of credits versus an equity round,” Berwick said. “Investors can use the credits however they want to through the website. It’s getting credit of 120% for every dollar you contribute in the form of chocolate ravioli orders. It was the best way for us to test the waters versus a full equity round since we’re still early.”

Pastazerts will use the funds to expand production capacity in its commercial kitchen and for marketing, adding personnel and developing new flavors.

As a year-old brand, looking to the future can be daunting, but Berwick said focusing on consumer education, product innovations and gaining traction will help get the company where it needs to be.

“I’m in the process of early days where my husband and I do everything, so we’re starting to get out of that stage,” she said. “I’m going to start taking myself out of the kitchen so I can run the business and focus on the right moves.” 

Enjoying this content? Learn about more disruptive startups on the Food Entrepreneur page.