Gragnano in the Campania Region of Italy
Home of the World's Best Dried Pasta
By: Philip S. Kampe - Mar 31, 2016
Gragnano (Campania) is a hill town wedged between a mountain crest and the Amalfi Coast. This small town of 30,000 residents is the home of some of the best dried pasta in the world.
It is home to a small group of artisan producers in the town that thrive on the main street in the city center. Gragnano’s extra wide main street was laid out specifically to capture the mountain breeze mixed with sea air to dry their hanging pasta on drying rods, similar to a laundry. This is true for some traditional pasta makers today, but, most recently, heaters are used to dry the pasta at low temperatures for up to four days.
Pasta shapes are created by bronze molds, which gives it a rough texture and helps create a nuttier aroma and chewier mouth feel. The pasta makers in this community want to maintain their traditional role as pasta makers in Gragnano have for centuries. The town was laid out to capture the salty breeze for drying the pasta years before the heater took over. Mountain streams provide pure mountain water for mixing the dough and turning mills.
Why is the pasta from Gragnano so special? After visiting the Gragnano pasta company, I learned the process. The name Gragnano implies a location and a style, much like a DOCG does on a wine bottle. The pasta, like the DOCG wine must meet certain criteria. To be called pasta di Gragnano, the pasta, originally known as spaghetti, must be produced in a legally defined area. It must be made with durum wheat and calcium pure water from Monti Lattori. The pasta dough must go through a bronze mold and dried at a low temperature. The result is a spectacular pasta that absorbs the flavor of the sauce and has enough surface to hold the liquid.
There are many artisan pasta producers in Gragnano. The company that is my favorite is ‘La Fabbrica della Pasta di Gragnano’. A tour of the pasta production facility and a tasting of the pasta afterwards convinced me that a lot of love for tradition goes into each pasta string that is produced. Also, ‘La Fabbrica della Pasta di Gragnano, is famous for making the largest pasta shell that is sold in the marketplace.
Their pasta is sold all across the world and especially in North America. To see their shapes and to learn more about the company, visit their website at: www.lafabbricadellapasta.it