South Lynnwood’s Carso’s Pasta takes pride in its noodles

Carso’s Pasta sits quietly just off the Interurban Trail in South Lynnwood. Stepping into the front office, everything seems slow and peaceful. Make your way into the back, however, and employees are hard at work making everything from soups to pastas to meatballs to breakfast pastries and more as they prepare for the day’s shipments.

Opened 36 years ago by owner Dave Brown, Carso’s prides itself on quality and freshness. 

Dave Brown — owner of Carso’s Pasta (Photo courtesy of Carso’s Pasta)

Dave didn’t always want to own a pasta business. In fact, he originally went to school in England to become a glassblower. 

“I love glass blowing,” Brown said. “I’ve done it for over 25 years. That was my passion. But at the time, glass blowing wasn’t going to pay the bills.”

So Brown dove into the restaurant business, getting a job at a steakhouse. He had always loved cooking and figured restaurants would be a constant source of income. Wanting to switch up the menu a bit, Dave started writing pasta recipes for the company. They quickly became the restaurant’s number-one seller.

Wanting to move away from the restaurant scene, Brown began working for a company that sold pasta equipment. Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well, and he quickly decided to start his own wholesale pasta business.

Finding a building in Queen Anne for sale, he scrambled to purchase it and opened what is now Carso’s Pasta.

“I started this whole business with tons of maxed-out credit cards,” Brown said. “We started in a little 800-square-foot building. And it was just me. Me, one other employee and my kids.”

Carso’s Pasta when it was located in the Queen Anne building (Photo courtesy of Carso’s Pasta website)

Originally, Carso’s specialized in children’s pasta. Having three kids at the time, Brown figured it would be a good place to start. When Brown started expanding to more classic pasta shapes, business took off. 

“I went from nothing to 50-70 [clients] in a month or so,” he said. “I was out there hustling business, and it really took off. I was doing things that nobody else was doing. I started making flavored pastas, which now, is like the norm. But when I started making flavored, different colors and different stuffings and raviolis, nobody was doing that.”

With business booming, Dave figured it was time to start looking for a larger building. Driving in Lynnwood one day, he saw a “Building For Lease” sign on a window, and thought: That’s the one. 

Brown said his kids have been a vital part of Carso’s Pasta since it began. The business is named after his daughter, Carson. Brown’s oldest son, Lane, would scoot around the production floor on a baby scooter trying to help his dad.

“The first solid food Lane ever had was when he reached up and grabbed some raw pasta,” Dave said. “I remember all the noodles running down his face.”

Dave Brown’s children — L-R Lane, Carson, and Reed — are still involved in the family business. (Photo courtesy of Carso’s Pasta Facebook)

Now adults, Brown’s children oversee most of Carso’s day-to-day operations. Lane and his brother Reed manage production while Carson works in the office managing accounts.

However, they still rely heavily on their dad’s input.

“He’s so good at this,” Lane Brown said of his dad. “When someone is [in the back] getting trained on how to make pasta, he can just look at it and tell you what’s wrong with it. He doesn’t have to touch it, doesn’t have to taste it. He just looks at it, and he knows it needs to be fixed.”

When asked if he’s ever considered working somewhere other than the family business, Lane answered right away that this is where he wants to be.

“I try to look at this as an opportunity,” he said. “My dad laid all the groundwork. And now it’s our turn to try and elevate that and make it the best it can be.”

Lane said the company enjoys being a wholesaler and doesn’t have plans to open a restaurant anytime soon. He said there are certain values restaurants have to sacrifice, and that Carso’s just isn’t willing to do that.

“We enjoy being in the background,” he said. “We don’t want all the extra stuff that comes with owning a restaurant. We’re content here with what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.”

Carso’s Pasta employees at work. (Photo by Lauren Reichenbach)

Carso’s prides itself on fresh, local ingredients. No fillers are added to any dish that comes out of the warehouse. On top of pasta, Carso’s has expanded even further, selling dishes to places like Taco Time, Pagliacci and Ivar’s. 

Along with their fresh pasta, the team at Carso’s also prides themselves on their reputation in the community. Carso’s doesn’t have a sales representative, so you won’t see billboards or ads in the paper about their pasta. The only advertising they get is by word of mouth. Their sole focus is on making good food, and they are confident that their expertise will give them all the advertising they need.

Carso’s pastas can be purchased nearby at Central Market in Shoreline, Central Market in Mill Creek and Ken’s Market in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood.

— by Lauren Reichenbach

  1. Great article and wonderful pasta. I witnessed the start of this terrific company since I was Lane’s kindergarten teacher! Great family business, dedicated to quality products. I’m a big fan.

  2. I’d like to know if they sale to the public? We live very close and we always get that garlic smell in the air daily.
    Before they moved in there we always smelled the bakery that was there .

    1. They strictly do wholesale. The only way individuals can purchase their pastas are from the stores listed at the end of the story.

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