Last week a new pasta arrived in Minneapolis, by way of Gragnano Italy, a small town in the province of Naples. Alfonzo and Pasquale Cesarano are the fourth generation of pasta makers at Le Antiche Tradizioni di Gragnano. Their pasta is made using non-GMO durum wheat (semolina) grown in the hilly areas surrounding their town (most pasta is made with imported flour.) The dough is extruded through bronze dies to create the rough surface that allows for the sauce to cling to the noodles. Gragnano’s “main street was laid out expressly to capture the mountain breeze mixed with sea air back when pasta makers hung spaghetti on drying rods like laundry,” according tо а Forbes Life write up. Although that aspect of the production has moved indoors, the art of slowly drying the pasta has remained. The longer drying time functions to preserve the nutrients in the wheat, to create a better texture and nuttier flavor – not to mention pasta that doesn’t fall apart while boiling.
But most importantly, these are some darn good noodles. Straight out of the pot the noodles were rich and and creamy in flavor with a meaty toothyness. The town of Gragnano is known for its paccheri, and their version lives up to its expectation. Theorecchiette are the prettiest we’ve ever seen. We are adding restaurant and retail sizes of pasta from Le Antiche Tradizioni di Gragnano, to our list of great traditionally made pastas, so that we can offer a variety of shapes and sizes from the producers who make them best.