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best dried pasta?

Happy holidays board!

I had been accustomed to buying the dried pasta ($5/lb) from SPQR, but they no longer offer it due to the chef change. I am now horribly spoiled, because De Cecco, Barilla, and many of the other large brands just won't do. Does anyone have any suggestions for a replacement? The pasta at SPQR was dried, but I would call it freshly dried, if there is such a thing.

Thanks for your help! I expect to try a few different brands or stores, but with your suggestions I hope I can narrow the list of candidates to a handful.

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  1. Have you tried any of the pastas available at the AG Ferrari shops?

    http://www.agferrari.com/index.php/de...

    3 Replies
    1. re: DavidT

      In addition to their house brand, AG Ferrari carries Latini and Pasta di Gragnano, among others.

      1. re: DavidT

        Thanks David! I haven't tried any of the AG Ferrari pastas. Which of the three brands do you like best? I'll start with AGF, and next time I'm in the East Bay I'll stop by The Pasta Shop.

        If there are any more suggestions for SF, that would be helpful. I live in SF and already have too many foods that require more than 1 hour to obtain. It is getting ridiculous.

        1. re: felice

          I have been happy eating the likes of Dececco & Barilla, so I have not been willing to pay a premium for any of the upscale brands Ferrari sells. I know Latini is very highly regarded.

    2. My favorite is Rustichella.d'Abruzzo. The Pasta Shop in Oakland has a big selection.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Rainbow Grocery carries a lot of Rustichella...angel hair, spaghetti, bucatini, rigatoni, and maybe 2 other more eccentric shapes. They also have very nice tender dried egg noodles from Edward's, and a few other high end Italian brands.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          If I'm remembering correctly, this is the pasta they use at Ad Hoc. I've bought it at Andronico and Rainbow and like it, don't know if it's worth the extra $$. I usually buy DeCecco.

        2. ditto what Robert said. I would only add that Pasta Shop also sells their pastas in bulk as well as the package.

          1. Selezioni Monograno made by Valentino Felicetti.

            http://www.selezionimonograno.it/01_h...

            Rainbow has it. Some Whole Foods do, too, though less stores than before. Not cheap, it's in the same price range as the SPQR pasta you mentioned and Rustichella d'Abruzzo (which I also like.

            )

            They've got two families of grains, farro (spelt) and kamut, in various cuts, all with great flavor and texture. The website shows durum wheat and egg pasta, too, but I've never seen those in any store, locally. To me, it feels good to ea, better than the usual semolina, etc. That may be my own personal thing, though, kind of like finding pizza made with "00" flour to be more satisfying than the more bready tasting version made with more standard flours.

            1. I grew up eating Eduardo's pasta, and it is still my favorite when I want to splurge (8oz packages are usually around $4). It's available in bulk at Rainbow Grocery for a slight savings, and in packages at Whole Foods and other grocery stores.

              http://www.eduardopasta.com/

              3 Replies
              1. re: operagirl

                Eduardo's makes egg pasta. I'm pretty sure SPQR was selling 100% semolina.

                Rustichella makes both kinds. Of their egg pastas, I particularly like the garganelli.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  This has been very helpful. I think I'll make a trip to Rainbow and pick up the Valentino Felicetti and Rusticella. To me, it's worth the extra money to be excited about the meal I'm having at home, since I'd be eating out otherwise...

                  1. re: felice

                    Make sure to report back and let us know what you think.

                1. re: chilihead2006

                  Wow, I never thought to buy pasta from Amazon before! What do you like about it?

                  Update: I have Rusticella penne, SM by VF both spelt and kamut. And after buying this 2.5 lbs of pasta, another chowhound donated some DeCecco organic pasta. I hope to have some opinions by the end of January, and will report back.

                  However, I am a bit sad that there (likely) isn't a pasta maker in the bay area that makes, dries, and sells their own pasta.

                    1. re: DavidT

                      Thanks for pointing out Eduardo, I had not researched it thoroughly and didn't realize that it was locally made.

                      Over the course of a week, I tried three different pastas: Valentino Felicetti spelt penne and kamut fusili, and Rusticella penne. I did not do a side-by-side comparison, mainly because I felt that any differences that could only be detected via a side-by-side tasting is too small to matter.

                      I liked the flavor and the texture of Rusticella best. It's sweeter than VF and more complex for some reason. The penne is very thick, which makes a difference in the overall mouthfeel, and probably enhanced the "al dente" aspect of texture. However, I would like to try their rigatoni, which I am hoping will have the same toothsomeness, but will have a softer mouthfeel.

                      Nothing I've tried thus far is in the same league as SPQR's dried pasta, but they are noticeably better than the larger brands.

                    2. re: felice

                      Here you go. Close to locally made and a forgotten SF classic.
                      http://www.homesteadpasta.com/product...
                      They're in South San Francisco now, but Guerra's Meats carries them.

                      Have you tried Lucca Ravioli Company?
                      http://www.luccaravioli.com/

                      These people sell at the Alemany, and UCSF Farmers Market.
                      http://www.ilpastaiofoods.com/

                      1. re: felice

                        Actually, we bought some at La Grande Epicerie de Paris in St. Germain de Pres. Everything sold there looks pretty darn good. It was soooo good that I did a Google search, and lo and behold, found that Amazon also carried it.

                    3. Castellana is my favorite, although I haven't tried half the brands on this list.

                      Berkeley Bowl used to carry it. Still looking for a local seller. (And not sure why Amazon is selling 12-packs).
                      http://www.amazon.com/Castellana-Fogl...

                      Have you checked the shelves at Lucca or Pasta Gina?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Windy

                        Monterey Fish has packages of Gentile Napoli Malfalde, possibly da, a long wavy shape. Looks like narrow lasagna. $5.99/500 gram.

                      2. Maretelli is the finest dried pasta I have tried. It is roughened to optimize adherence of the sauce and never fails to cook to toothsome perfection.

                        http://www.amazon.com/Martelli-Spaghe...

                        1. Trader Joe's Organic is suprisngly good, especially for the price. It's just flour and water- keeping it from becoming gummy like barilla and dececco. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of shape options.

                          1. GAROFALO from Italy. Made in Naples for a century or so. I used Barilla for years but I thin this is better. Believe it or not, Costco carries it. You won't be sorry.