Totally marvelous macaroni from Tuscany
by Ari Weinzweig
I taste a lot of new foods—I’m always sampling new stuff, experimenting at home, and eating in restaurants every time I go out of town. But, what really gets my attention is when something I’ve been eating, say, for decades, still blows my mind because it’s just so freaking good! I’ve been eating Martelli Maccheroni for 30 years now. But lately, I can’t get enough of it!
If you’ve eaten Martelli you’re probably already sold. If you haven’t, give it a try! To quote Corby Kummer writing in The Atlantic, “You should buy or order Martelli at least once if only to have a standard against which to judge other dried pasta.”
It’s made in the tiny Tuscan hill town of Lari, which is about half an hour east of Pisa. Martelli pasta is so special because it’s…
- Made with very hard durum wheat
- Mixed at low temperatures with cool water
- Extruded through bronze dies to get the old-style, very rough surface on the pasta (so that the sauce clings to the pasta, not the bottom of the bowl)
- Dried for 50-60 hours at modest temperatures to protect the fragile flavor of the wheat.
- Takes a lot longer to cook—10-13 minutes—but you can smell the wheat when you drop the pasta in the pot.
- While most commercial pasta is very bland, Martelli actually has flavor!
Martelli Maccheroni makes THE BEST macaroni and cheese. So good that we’ve been using it at the Roadhouse now for fourteen straight years! The Martelli’s only pack their pasta in retail-sized bags, so we open dozens of them every day! I checked in with Beatrice Ughi, the importer of Martelli into the US—the Roadhouse is indeed the BIGGEST user of Martelli maccheroni in the country!
At home, we cook Martelli maccheroni often. When I’m having a rough day, one of my favorite comfort meals is a bowl of Martelli maccheroni (very al dente!), dressed with some very good olive oil (the olio nuovo above would be a knockout), a lot of Parmigiano Reggiano and a healthy dose of the new crop 2017 Tellicherry black pepper. Oh yeah, don’t hesitate to add a spoonful or two of the Bellwether Ricotta from the Creamery, too!