HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >

Discussion

Which chef uses which dry pasta brand? and which do you like?

i feel like when I watch some cooking shows, the chefs rave about one pasta brand or another but then I can never remember which one said what

Giada likes DeCecco?
Lydia and Barilla?
Does anyone else know who likes what?

Also, let me know which ones you like best. I know this has probably been a previously-posted topic but want to get some fresh opinions too.

thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. I eat pasta a few times a week -- I love it. But do the different brands really make that much of a difference? I usually just buy whatever is on sale that week, be it Mueller's, Ronzoni, or a store brand (Publix/Albertson's/Market Pantry from Target). I've paid more for the "fancier"-looking pasta before and haven't ever noticed a different taste or quality.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

      I used to eat whichever pasta brand was on sale as well - but I think it was the first time I had Garafalo pasta (which was very affordable, since I got it at Costco) that I changed my mind. It took about twice as long to cook, and had more density and chewiness/ toothiness? than any other pasta I had had before. Now I make sure I am stocked up whenever I go to Costco - I don't think I can go back to the random grocery store pastas. It's a simple thing that has made my cooking better.

    2. I normally trust Lydia on all matters Italian, but De Cecco is my go-to pasta brand. Barilla is fine, I find, but De Cecco seems better at holding onto sauce.

      1. De Cecco and Del Verde are actual Abruzzesi dried pasta producers, and their US counterparts are true to the quality of the original Italian product. Barilla, on the other hand, is an entirely different (and lower-quality) product here in the States. I am personally offended by this total lack of respect for US dried pasta consumers, but that's another story for anyone who is nearly as fanatical as I am about these kinds of things. Rustichella d'Abruzzo is good for certain cuts (I like their orecchiette), and not quite right for others. Their Gnocchi and Perle di Patate (mini gnocchi) are out of this world, if you can find them (at about $8 per lb.). You'll never find Ronzoni or Rienzi in my pantry, though there was a time when that was all that was available (my grandmother continued to use them, out of habit, until the '80s, when her daughters revolted). I am currently enjoying "thick spaghetti" and "pennette rigate" from Rummo, a Neapolitan brand that is newly-available here in the NY area. Another promising brand produced in that region is Gerardo di Nola, whose Bucatini I tried recently and really liked. I also made a dish using a Pugliese brand not too long ago that was very good, but I don't recall which. My go-to classics are DeCecco Rigatoni and Spaghetti, but I will also take Del Verde for either of these, and also for pastine (small pastas, used in soups, etc.). Voiello brand pasta is excellent all around, if you can find it. It's availability seems to come and go here in NY. I heard that Barilla bought it recently, which to me can only be a bad omen, if it is any indication of how their quality here in States might change. My #1 brand for nostalgia purposes is Gianni di Napoli, a pioneer import brand of high-quality pasta from Italy that my mother used for much of my childhood. It is still good, and a bargain due to its relative obscurity, though not easy to find.
        I could go on and on, but I don't want to scare anyone ;)

        13 Replies
        1. re: vvvindaloo

          I once read an article -- I think it was in COOK'S -- that tested various types of pasta, both domestic and imported. The upshot was that the place where the pasta is purchased plays just as large a role in pasta quality as brand. Artiginale pasta bought from a source with a small turnover degrades and is worse than cheap domestic brands brought from a source with rapid turnover.

          Does anyone else remember this article? Perhaps someone could chime in here and name names.

          1. re: Indy 67

            I remember it, the winner of the tasting was Ronzoni. I'm pretty sure that Ronzoni sells under the American Beauty brand west of the Rockies.

            1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

              Thanks! Ronzoni, yes! I remember being surprised by the outcome.

              1. re: Indy 67

                I recall a contest, but I don't recall who did it and Barilla was the winner. It was a long time ago, but ever since it's the brand I now use. They have a newish pasta on the market. It's in a golden colored box. It doesn't taste as good but it is more nutritious. I think it is made with chick pea flour.

                1. re: Indy 67

                  My Italian American family always used Ronzoni as our first choice growing up. When we moved to MD it was hard to find so we used a variety. Now I typically used what is on sale.

            2. re: vvvindaloo

              I think an Italian would get a big kick out of an American paying $8 for a pound of pasta. Sort of defeats the whole purpose. I'll make my own gnocchi every night of the week before I'd pay that.

              1. re: southernitalian

                Well, we're talking about a pouch of artisinal gnocchi, not factory-made dried pasta. I think the package holds more than a pound, but yes, it's expensive. I don't really mind, because it's incredibly good (and I rarely find the patience to make hundreds of little perle di patate at a time).
                I remember my cousins spending the quivalent of about $6 for a box of OREO cookies a few years back- it's all about what is readily available to you, and what is considered a specialty item.

                1. re: vvvindaloo

                  Yes, those packages are often 500 grammes whichh is over a pound.

                  1. re: erica

                    I have gotten "caught out" on occasion thinking that I was buying a pound based on the size of the box, and actually ending up with half a pound - I think I bought the Cirpriani brand - it was the only one I could find of the shape I was looking for out in Sag Harbor.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      Leave it to Cipriani to sell pasta in .5 lb. boxes!

                      1. re: vvvindaloo

                        italians also would never sit and consume a pound of pasta, unless they're feeding 6-8 people.

                  2. re: vvvindaloo

                    I should have mentioned that those cousins (mentioned above) live in Italy.

                2. re: vvvindaloo

                  I have used Dececco in the past but after finding bugs a few times switched to Del Verde.Their pasta is great and I eat pasta 3 times a week.

                3. I agree that De Cecco is one of the best store bought dried pasta's I have tried. Even better, my local Italian specialty market sells it for 99 cents a bag! With a can of San Marzano tomatoes and a few spices, I can make a great dinner for about $4.00! For a little more, I get some meatballs made by the maket owner's 90 year old grandfather, talk about authentic! What a deal.

                  1. If Im buying off the shelf, it's Rustichella d'Abruzzo, but I prefer to order my dried pastas from salumeriaitaliana dot com, and they often have amazing small production imported pastas. Right now I have a beautiful purple radicchio pasta on my shelf...

                    1. I pretty much always use De Cecco, though I occasionally will buy an artistanal brand. I recently tried "La Nonna del Monello" brand orecchiette (from Puglia - I only wish I could remember where I bought it) and loved it - had a wonderful chewiness to it and was great with pesto. It was $3.99 for 500 grams, which I thought was a good price for artisanal pasta. I've found that that shape does well with a number of pasta sauces that I'd not previously thought to use it with, including carbonara (per a recipe of Suzanne Goin).

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: MMRuth

                        Yes, that's the Pugliese pasta I was trying to name. It's really quite good. I love the name, too- "Grandmother of the street urchin/naughty boy". Now I am trying to remember where I bought it, too. I'll report back if I figure it out.

                        1. re: vvvindaloo

                          I'll do the same - ah - you know what, I'm pretty sure it was Faicco's - I was picking up some pancetta there and saw it and picked it up.

                      2. As long as the pasta is made with Durum Semolina it will cook up firm and hold the sauce well. That nice yellowish color the cooked macaroni has indicates high quality. Believe it or not, Trader Joe's offers a very good, really low priced brand of macaroni and we stock up when we are there. Generally though, it's DeCecco or Barilla from Wild Oats.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Gio

                          Definitely look for the rich golden color. I find it to be more important for certain cuts (spaghetti, penne, rigatoni), than others. It's about how you like a certain cut of pasta to feel in your mouth, as well as what kind of sauce it is eaten with.

                        2. Ina Garten uses DeCecco too since you asked. It's in her cookbooks.

                          1. Mario Batali has mentioned DeCecco at least once, too.

                            1. I started buying De Cecco pasta for my home kitchen after I started buying it for an Italian restaurant we had at the Hyatt I worked in as a Purchasing Manager. I liked the quality to price ratio enough to bring it into my home.

                              I didnt know Giada used De Cecco, but that wouldnt be a reason I would use it in my kitchen or not.

                              1. De Cecco
                                Barilla (some of the pastas anyway)
                                Ronzoni

                                I go for De Cecco first. Best pasta? How do you determine which is best? I really can't tell, I just like the variety of De Cecco. Taste though? I guess I'm missing something.

                                1. thanks for all the input - i'll keep testing the grocery brands and definitely start trying more of the specialty products

                                  1. Specialty brands on sale at TJ Maxx! And de Cecco/Barilla

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: suse

                                      can be old though. just have to be careful - although i LOVE tjmaxx and marshalls!

                                      1. re: AMFM

                                        DeCecco, Rummo, La Molisana are all excellent medium- to large-volume brands; they have a distinct wheat flavor, hold sauces well, and avoid the slick, artificial feel of such brands as the US-made Barilla. DeCecco in particular has been a standard bearer of affordable quality, and I remember when my Calabrese family made the switch from Ronzoni back in the 60s. Incidentally, celebrity chef use is all about show sponsorship, as when Lidia dropped Colavita oil and pasta for DeCecco.

                                        1. re: obob96

                                          Oh- Lidia finally dropped Colavita, huh? I always found it pretty incongruous that she promoted Colavita olive oils (I know, its about sponsorship and public television) and the US Barilla- they are both somewhat lower quality products than I would expect her to use. I don't mean to sound snobby, but I think it is a shame for a high caliber chef to dedicate so much of their talent to educating others, and be associated with sub-par ingredients.

                                    2. Many of the Italian Chefs mentioned are sponsored by the products they use.

                                      I am sure they wouldn't use them if they didn't really like them.

                                      After reading the Cook's Illustrated Blind Taste Test a few years back, I tried one at home.

                                      We liked the Ronzoni best, the de Cecco was 2nd.

                                      I have been using the Rafetto Fresh Pasta a lot lately. It is terrific, almost as good as home made. Their Pappardelle and Angel Hair are delicious in taste and texture.

                                      Seasonally, their Pumpkin Ravioli is just out, and it is delicious. Any new ideas for saucing it?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Fleur

                                        "Many of the Italian Chefs mentioned are sponsored by the products they use."

                                        i'd venture to say every tv chef mentioned here works with product placement. they no doubt have a preference, but they're shilling for sponsors.

                                        every high-end chef for whom i've worked uses de cecco when not using house-made. packaged "fresh" pasta is an oxymoron, unless you know the store made it that day. very few italians make pasta for regular meals since the boxed commercial stuff is cheap and excellent.

                                        at home i use that, barilla or ronzoni. i grew up on ronzoni.

                                      2. I almost always use DeCecco. I might switch to Barilla on the day that I decide to start eating pastrami on white bread.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: sbritchky

                                          What I don't use is Prince. That has to be the worst dry pasta ever. I cooked some Delverde Tagliatelle Nests last night. It was very good quality.

                                        2. I've seen Al Dente Pasta, the brand that comes in the clear bag, used by a few of the chefs on the food network. It is only made in fettuccine and linguine cuts, cooks in 3 minutes, has a real homemade, fresh texture, like Northern Italian noodles. It is available in a wide variety of stores around the country.

                                          1. Do you think there might be a connection between the brand that the tv chef uses and the company that is paying for the tv placement or sponsorship?

                                            Do you really think that Lidia Bastianich is going to use US-made Barilla pasta when she cooks for her family, if in fact she does use that on her show, which I do not recall even noticing?

                                            1. For price with high quality look for DiCecco. It is made with bronze dies to give the surface 'tooth' to hold the sauce. Barilla is a competent product that sells because it is among the cheapest. For quality regardless of price, Rustichella d'Abruzzo is the clear winner, but for the price of 500gm you can buy 3 lbs of DiCecco and perhaps 6 lbs of Barilla.

                                                1. re: jefpen2

                                                  I, too, try not to send my money to support fools.

                                                  1. re: DebinIndiana

                                                    Agree - I now have some in my pantry, but will use it as an opportunity to educate my kids why we won't be eating it anymore.

                                                  2. re: jefpen2

                                                    Ah. I'll make up for your boycott by stocking up from here on out.

                                                    1. re: jefpen2

                                                      We have a pretty active thread on this news story at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/918279 and we'll ask people to head to that thread for any further discussion of that topic, so we can keep this discussion focused on sharing tips on best dry pastas. Thanks!

                                                    2. I grew up on American Beauty, but nowadays generally prefer DeCecco and Barilla. If I'm flush, it's Latini. I also like going to specialty stores and stocking up on all sorts of exotic shapes and obscure Italian brands.

                                                      1. This Chef uses Rustichella d'Abruzzo or DeCecco

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: chefj

                                                          DeCecco. There's always a reason why some food items are more expensive, just like any consumer product. That reason is pretty much to do with the quality of the item. DeCecco costs more than a 'No-name' brand because it is a better quality.
                                                          A Ferrari 458 is more expensive than a KIA Sorento for the same reason.
                                                          "You get what you pay for".

                                                          1. re: Puffin3

                                                            I just bought DeCecco spaghetti for the 1st time tonight. It was fine. On 2nd thought it may even be a bit more tastier than Barilla.

                                                          2. My new fave is Al Dente artisanal pasta. It's made in Michigan.