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Jan 14, 2013 11:48 AM

Pasta, Pasta e Pasta

I'm a cook looking to return to Italy and work. My passion lies in exploring pasta in great depth and I currently have 3 cities in Italy in which I'm exploring moving to. If there is anyone kind enough to share some fantastic meals revolving around pasta in/around Milano, Modena or Roma, I would be greatly appreciative. I will be in Italy starting in late June and will make my decision after dining...thank you greatly ahead of time e andiamo a mangiare.

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  1. Emilia Romagna is THE place in italy for homemade pasta.

    18 Replies
    1. re: robeetamell

      Do you have any specific recommendations? I would like to try for 1-2 Michelin starred but not beholden to that. Also looking into Piedmonte.


      1. re: jivetacchino

        For us, the standard for pasta, both stuffed and non-stuffed, for the past 30 years plus has been Bruna Santini's at Dal Pescatore in Canneto (in southern Lombardia). There is not even a close second that we've tried, and we've tried a tremendous number over the years. Anyone who has gone there feels much the same way about the pasta.

        Pasta in Piemonte is very different from pasta in ER. In Piemonte, the places that we think serve the most delicious are Da Renzo (particularly the stuffed), Borgo Antico, and Cascinale Nuovo. In ER, I'd just go over the (not far away) border to Pescatore.

        1. re: allende

          Fantastic recommendation on Dal Pescatore, I have heavily researched them and they're on my short list.

          Thank you

          1. re: jivetacchino

            who are you people? do you live in ER or Lombardia.
            dal Pescatore is way expensive and absolutely not worth the money. Their tortelli di zucca, which is in part what they are famous about 24euro, cannot compare to the tortelli here in Parma for roughly 10euro. Also why Michelin stars. The two star Michelin restaurants here are more French in nature and about presentation.
            There are hundreds of recipes/ingredients and types of pasta, and depending on the season different things to order. If you come in the fall ER has fresh porcini mushrooms as well as both black and white truffles. Piedmonte has truffles as well.

            1. re: robeetamell


              Gee, I live in Italy as well. I've spent a lot of time in ER and Piemonte... a lot of time during the past thirty years. Have you spent a lot of time in Piemonte? If so, what places do you enjoy? What places in ER do you enjoy?

              As far as Dal Pescatore. Notice I commented only on the pasta. The OP didn't ask about price (yes, Pescatore is very expensive), nor about anything else, just pasta. If you read some of my prior posts, Michelin stars have nothing to do with finding good food, but it doesn't preclude finding good food. Question, have you been to Pescatore? Again, I don't live in Lombardia, but perhaps 50 times at Pescatore and almost 2000 trattorie/ristorante meals in 35 plus years gives me a fair perspective on pasta that I enjoy and think is great or not.

              We've been to Parma many, many times beginning in 1976. I really enjoy the city. What restaurants do you enjoy for tortelli at 10 euros, that compare to Pescatore's.

              Black and white truffles are totally different from each other. The only thing they have in common is that they're truffles. Porcini (mushrooms, sic) are wonderful in ER. Truffles from ER, white or black, are eh! If people want truffles, just go to Piemonte in the fall, and don't order anything with black truffles... leave black truffles to the French.

              1. re: allende

                Of course black and white truffles are different. But white truffles from ER are just as good quality as Piemonte, And sounds like you are not very familiar with how to cook w the black, A black truffle grated into Parmigiano Reggiano and left in the fridge for a few hours is beyond words and definitely something i would not leave for the french. Why be so misleading
                to people who are not familiar with them,
                I have a masters degree in Italian gastronomy and have traveled/studied/eaten the food of every region here, Have you?
                for example, Lombardia is not famous for pasta, but for rice. The area east of Mantova contains the "rice route" and is a gastronomic center for risotto. Back to the tortelli, It is also important to point out that in southern Lombardia they are quite different, much sweeter , as they use mostarda and/or amaretti. Yes I have been to dal pescatore, several times, with several groups of highly disappointed friends. I would go to any place in Parma and have a mix of zucca,patate and erbe homemade and tossed with butter and freshly grated parmigiano. truly a melt in your mouth experience. Finally it seems to me you have a bit of American "myopia". No Italian would go to dal pescatore 50 times let alone think it was something to boast about. If you truly live here, you of all people should know that michelin stars and high prices don't always mean good food and a great dining experience.

                1. re: robeetamell

                  It would be helpful if you recommended some restaurants you do like so we can better understand the basis of your opinions. The cuisine of parma is great but "any place in parma" covers a pretty broad field and Id venture to say that not every restaurant in parma is equally wonderful.

                  1. re: robeetamell

                    @ Robeetamell

                    You said, Lombardia is not famous for pasta, but for rice. Gee, that's interesting, I thought they might be noted for both, but I must have gone to the wrong restaurants all these years.

                    Pescatore. Well, perhaps I started to go there in 1980 when Franco Colombani (do you know who he is; I'm sure you do) told us to. Essentially a country trattoria at that time with two incredibly ambitious, talented, and nice people. We got to know them... very, very well. Seems like a no brainer to continue to go there several times a year in the 80s and early 90s. And there you have a lot of visits.

                    You said: "If you truly live here, you of all people should know that michelin stars and high prices don't always mean good food and a great dining experience."

                    Gee, that's what I said, but you didn't stop to read it carefully. I said: "Michelin stars have nothing to do with finding good food, but it doesn't preclude finding good food."

                    Rather than avoiding questions about the places you really like in Parma and the surrounding countryside in ER, why don't you do us a favor and name some of them. You asked for the seasons, so lets pick the spring and fall. What I would like to eat, you asked. Anything that you think is good, in the restaurants/ trattorias that you enjoy e.g. pasta (stuffed and non stuffed), risotto, culatello, faraona... things like that. Also, do the places that you recommend have decent wines lists? Are there any really good wines made in ER or do the lists have Piemontese and Tuscans?

                    Looking forward to hearing from you and yes, I do live in Italy in Tuscany.

                    Question: If Dal Pescatore is so disappointing, why would you go back "several times?"

                2. re: robeetamell

                  we agree that ER and adjoining Lombardy as the place for optimum handmade pastas in Italy. Our experience in this region certainly does not match say Allende but we really have enjoyed some of the dishes at Arnaldo's Clinica Gastromica - specifically, I most liked a silky lasagna with a wild mushroom sauce and a dish of thin fresh pasta with a delicate veg ragu in our meal.

                  @robeetamell, you have generically blasted a lot of folks recommendations - given that you live in the region and seem to have a lot of current experience, it would be great if you got more specific about your disses and gave some alternative ideas. Would love to hear them.

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    would love to help you. if you can give me some idea of the season and what you like..for example, porcini mushrooms.
                    what is veg. ragu?

                    1. re: robeetamell

                      the dishes at arnaldo were spugnolata (like I said a wild mushroom-sauced lasagna type noodle) and I think tagiatelle with sugo d'estate, which was a light complex vegetable based sauce (I suppose not technically speaking a ragu).

                      Im far from an expert, and have tried relatively few of the fine country and city restaurants of this region, but Id note that this is one of the places that has women in the kitchen making the traditional emilian pastas, and their pasta is very delicate, so it might be worth visiting for a person looking specifically to discover these.

                      I would be interested in hearing about any regional restaurants (in Parma and elsewhere in the region) that you find to be particularly outstanding and worth visiting.

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        Come on. Robeetamell is not going to name any restaurants or anything else. He simply doesn't want to answer any questions because he is too embarrassed that people actually question things. We should beware of anyone who says they have a "masters degree in Italian Gastronomy" whatever that means.
                        Please prove me wrong Robeetamell.

                        1. re: allende

                          Allende, I agree with you - my hope for actual useful info about restaurants is slim.
                          Re the qualification, Im assuming the Accademia Barilla in Parma or some such was the source, but I have no basis of opinion one way or the other about that.

                          1. re: allende

                            UNISG, maybe you can learn something. For tortelli, Osteria dell Vigne, varieties include castagna, barbabietole,patata,porri,zucca,erbetta,carciofi.
                            In Piacenza they are braided with a tail see the foto
                            Since we do not go out just for pasta per se, here are 3 places in various parts of Emilia Romagna with different cuisines..La Zanzara...for anguilla and polenta and for spaghetti nero di sepia ,south in Romagna Il Piastrino and north of Modena
                            La Fefa..may not have reopened from the earthquake but has some of the best traditional food including about tagliatelle al ragu

                            1. re: robeetamell

                              thanks for the interesting recommendations. It looks like La Fefa is back open

                              Interesting too about the school, too - which I was not aware of. Maybe you could tell us something about the program there. Also, if there are any places you like in the cities of Parma or Piacenza? - weve wanted to visit the latter for a while,

                              1. re: jen kalb


                                Thanks for the reply to the one question you answered.

                                Why is it so difficult to get you to answer more than one question. No trattorias/restaurants in Piemonte to recommend? Surely you know some good ones there, or perhaps you don't and what you said is all a bluff... that you haven't eaten food in every region! Why did you go to Pescatore several times if it is so bad? We look forward to hearing from you.

                                It is clear that you and I have different standards, very different standards in trattorie, at least the one that we've both been to, Osteria delle Vigne. Haven't been to the others. I took the following from my notes (and made the notes complete sentences)

                                A typical Parmense trattoria, perhaps a bit better than most, but nothing special. Small, a little claustrophobic when full. Lovely owners and excellent service (except for one thing). Fills you up with torta fritta and salumi, like so many places in ER. Why lardo di Colonnata at a trattoria right outside Parma? Makes no sense; prosciutto and culatello were excellent.

                                The one problem with service. Why couldn't they understand that some people only want one kind of tortelli on their plate, not two or three or more different kinds. It was like pulling teeth to get them to serve us only one kind for each of us, but eventually they did. Excellent filling, very strong and robust... just perfect. Pasta itself left a lot to be desired. A little better than most trattorie in ER, but way too thick. Tortelli were served lukewarm

                                Stracotto di cavallo, a specialty, was very good. Punto di vitello was tasteless. Nothing decent to drink, big disappointment. Passed on dessert; nothing look appealing. Decent, wouldn't go back.

                            2. re: allende

                              "...a "masters degree in Italian Gastronomy" whatever that means."

                              I guess it is possible.

                              1. re: ttoommyy

                                A number of my Piemontese friends know a fair amount about the program. Better left unsaid what they think of it.

                                from your wiki entry, some of what they teach:
                                "Italian Gastronomy and Tourism, Food Culture and Communications"

            2. Much appreciated for the candid and often "enlightening" commentary/suggestions. Pasta and Italian food in general do and always will elicit strong opinions...and I think in many ways, that's why this career is so excellent.

              Mille grazie e ci vediamo in Italia.