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Oct 27, 2011 07:48 AM

buying pasta in Italy


I am traveling to Italy next week and would like to bring home some dry pasta for friends. I'd love to bring something not readily available in the States. Any ideas??


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  1. A friend once brought me back pici, which I enjoyed cooking up. Maybe you can see if there's a regional specialty where you're going.

    3 Replies
    1. re: lowereastrittenhouse

      I was going to say the same thing. Each region and almost it seems, every town, seems to have their own traditional pasta shape that is usually easily found. So pack an extra suitcase!

      1. re: lowereastrittenhouse

        i'll be in genova. a quick search brought up pesto speciality pastas trenette and trofie. i'll keep my eyes open for those.

        thanks all!!

        1. re: hgar78

          Much depends on where you live and what you can get in your area. The most interesting dried pasta in the Genoa area would be corzetti, shaped like a US silver dollar, but thinner. Although in my area (NYC) I can get most shapes, that is one I do not remember seeing in shops. You might even find the corzetti stamps.

          The Barilla made in Italy is better than the Barilla made in the US, but still far from the artisanal dried products.

      2. It sort of depends on where you live. I'm in Chicago and there are countless pastas from Italy available locally (and no, I'm not counting Barilla), ranging from the everyday to the exotic.

        1. Would you believe that in Florence we ran across a vending machine in a little alcove that opened onto the street selling boxes of Barilla? We laughed so hard! I'd post the pic, but I can't seem to find the file right now. One of the funniest moments of the trip.

          That's what NOT to bring back.

          1. The other thing you might want to do is to see what you can find in the specialized pasta shops/wine shops/deli instead of the usual touristic places. Often the pasta offered at the touristic places is generic as you can find it everywheres throughout the country at all touristic shops, and kind of, well, meh...especially the pretty tricolored stuff. No Italian I know is caught dead serving that stuff LOL.
            And WORD to the regionality...I'm on the hunt for a Sicilian pasta which is ring shaped, small and ring shaped. Not a wheel, not a tube, but a ring shape (aka "anellini di pasta"). Couldn't find it in Florence (used it there once during a cooking class). I'd have to go to Sicily to find it. STILL looking., although amazon.comseems promising...

            12 Replies
              1. re: freia

                freia: you might be able to get it from They have a lot of pastas that aren't usually imported into US.

                1. re: freia

                  Anellini is sold by the shop I use in Brooklyn (Coluccio) I will theck the brand next time I am over there.
                  Ps they are cute but nothing special, I guess the idea is that they are thin like the thinner spaghettis, but are not as messy to handle in particular dishes. I will give some thought to what a good sub would be when I look at them again.

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    I've been looking for annelletti (similar shape) all over the place too and really wish I'd brought some home from Sicily with me. I haven't found the right sub for annelletti al forno yet!

                    1. re: jen kalb

                      Jen, I think it's Martino, but I may be wrong. I've had annellini only in the classic Sicilian baked dish, with the cooked pasta baked with meat sauce, peas, chopped mozzarella, pecorino, maybe some eggplant in a baking dish. Very satisfying as a composite dish.

                      1. re: bob96

                        thats the clasic dish - ive never made it though - dont you think there is a reasonable sub - ditali or something?

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          see, that was the recipe I needed the annelli for! LOL. No real substitutes if you want the real thing. The closest would be pasta wheels I think, but the texture and the way the dish comes out is completely different. Sigh. And I'm Canadian, in a small town, meaning that my selection of dried pasta that is more special than lasagne noodles or fettucine has to come from an online order. Double sigh...

                          1. re: jen kalb

                            Ditali (not ditalini, as you suggest) or pennette (small penne) might also work, but I have to believe Coluccio or Frank+Sal have the annellini.

                            1. re: bob96

                              Sorry, I meant ditali. Coluccio definitely has them, but she is in Canada. Im just trying to think of something with similar texture. thickness and size of pasta rather than shape would be the most relevant criteria in a sub, it seems to me. The rings are quite thin. Ive never made the dish but it seems like it would be great in this weather.

                              1. re: jen kalb

                                Might be easiest to order from amazon--4 17.5 oz bags of Rustichella for $17.50; not bad!

                                1. re: bob96

                                  That's a great price. This is my favorite brand, which I buy at my local Dean & Deluca, but for more money!

                    2. Yes, TJ Maxx, lol!!

                      I went to Italy about 10 - 15 years ago, bought and brought back what I thought were "specilaty" foods that l was sure could not be found in the U.S. Chocolates, coffee, shrink-wrapped cheese and a few bags of pasta, tri-color, black cuttlefish ink, etc. I was really excited. Before I left, I spent my last lire at the airport buying more chocolate, only to discover a couple of years later that the exact same bags of pastas I flew half way around the world for could be found at TJ Maxx, lol!!! The chocolates? I found the same chocolates sold at CVS pharmacy, lol!!!!