Sixpence Pie Company: Cornish Pasties Right in Westville

One of my favorite culinary memories is of being introduced to pasties, a kind of savory turnover, in England. They’re hard to find on this side of the pond, and when you do they can be, well, a bit bland. Not at the Sixpence Pie Company. At their outpost on Whalley Avenue in Westville, co-owners Kara More and Lisa Totten make sure their veggie curry pasty has a real tikka masala kick, and their shepherd’s pie is fragrant and juicy.

The pasty shop was nowhere on the horizon as More pursued a masters in education and taught high-school English. Meanwhile, Totten had a career in fashion as a visual merchandiser and buyer. But both had the food business in their blood. More’s family owned the West End Inn in Long Beach, NY, and Totten’s father was a food critic and her husband a former chef.

“Food has always been my passion,” More says. “My family deterred me from going into it. It’s hard. The hours are grueling.”

Regardless, in 2007 she ran an ad on Craig’s List, Totten answered it, and More launched Little Something Catering with Totten as her staff. They rented a kitchen at the Elks Lodge in Southington but they didn’t get far since they had no credentials. “We were trying to find this little niche with more local, organic, foods to do catering with,” More says. “We didn’t see much business because, who were we? Just some people starting out of nowhere. So we decided to try some farmers markets to see where that went.”

They tried their brunch menu at the markets and their quiches were a hit.  “Because of our crust, which is my Nana’s recipe,” says More. They tried to think of other ways to use the crust and hand pies came up. “Individual, sort of pot pies. Meat pies. It is a Cornish pasty.” But not a lot of folks know what a pasty is, so More and Totten call them hand pies or meat pies. Filled with fragrance and juices, the savory pies use locally sourced meat (Berkshire pork, Four Mile River beef) and the sweet pies use seasonal fruit. Dairy products are from the Farmer’s Cow group in eastern Connecticut.

They soon outgrew the Elks kitchen, and another one at a caterer’s in Bristol, and then they found a vacant Quiznos in Southington with great storage, the right sized kitchen, and a storefront. The Sixpence Pie Company had a brick-and-mortar home.

They still do a very good farmers market business and can be found locally at the Wooster Square and Edgewood markets. Their hand pies are also on the menu at the delightful pub Ordinary on Chapel St. One of More and Totten’s New Haven customers owned a yarn shop in Westville, which she was closing. She told them of that vacant space and in May of 2012 they opened their second location.
Not content with just pasties, Sixpence also offers quiches, both savory and sweet, and more. Sixpence’s pies and quiches can be eaten in the store, or better yet, brought home for dinner, lunch or brunch. That way no one has to know the crust isn’t your own Nana’s recipe.

Mara Lavitt

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Restaurant Website: http://www.sixpencepiecompany.com/

• The Detes: 910 Whalley Ave., New Haven. 203-3766-0606. Open Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m – 6 p.m.,  Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Sunday 9:30 a.m. -2:30 p.m.

• Price Range: Pasties $6, mini-pasties (for kids) $4, personal-sized quiche $7, 9″ quiche $15, pot pies $12 and $16, salads $6, sweet pies are in three sizes: individual $5, small $10, large $15.

• Style of Food:  English pasty and French quiche with an American twist.

• Favorite dishes: Shepherd’s pie, pulled pork, chicken pot pies, seasonal fruit pasties.

• Drinks: Soft drinks, coffee, espresso

• Vegetarian: yes

• Outdoor seating: no

• Catering: absolutely

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