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Feb 22, 2013 12:21 AM

Much difference in Carnaroli or Vialone rice brands? Any preferences?

Would love to hear your thoughts on good brands of carnaroli and vialone nano.

Is there much difference in the amount of milky starch (amylopectin) that's exuded? Texture? Flavor? Mushiness?

Is Vialone Nano the best for a creamy risotto?
Does organic make a difference?

I use this type rice for several purposes. Just went through a box of Roland, but think there might be a better brand. I want to buy a big bag based on recommendation.

Primoriso, Acquerello, Lotus, Roland, others? Thanks.

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  1. I can't answer this question because the only kind of short grained rice readily available in our area is Arborio. That's what use for risotto, but I have heard of the two varieties.

    I'm the risotto cook, and my wife demands creaminess. To achieve that I use lots of butter and Parmigiano Reggiano.

    Where do you find the 2 varieties for which you want answers other than the internet?

    1. Maria Lorraine, I have bought Carnaroli rice from Fromaggio Kitchen in Cambridge MA. All their Italian rice is imported from Italy. Here's a link to their on-line description of Carnaroli:

      The Carnaroli I use is indeed very creamy and has a rich full bodied flavor. It's known as the caviar of Italian rices. The starch of the Carnaroli rice is the one most rich in amilose. But when I can't get to Formaggio I find that Aborio from TJ's is an adequate substitute, especially if I use my good, strong chicken stock, a sufficient amount of butter, a dry white wine, and a very good Pecorino Romano. Trader Joe's Aborio is imported from Italy.

      Vialone nano is the preferred rice of the Veneto region. for some reason. It absorbs twice its weight in liquid so does create a creamy risotto. I've never used it, though. There's another risotto rice that's being introduced here... Baldo Rice. Apparently the grains are "sticker" than other rices. The last I know of is Padano. Padano and Vialone Nano are in the Italian classification group called Semifino, while Arborio, Baldo, and Carnaroli in the Superfino group which is the highest classification..

      1. I can just add that for me, switching to Carnaroli rice transformed my risotto from suddenly starchy and clumpy, to creamy, individual grains of rice.
        Vialone Nano did not have quite that result for me, but it still worked better than arborio.
        Again, for me, Carnaroli made me want to try risotto at home again.

        1. I wish you had added this info to the Home Cooking Dish of the month going on right now.

          1. I use Acquerello, it comes in a tin can usually unless you get the vacuum sealed tins which resemble whole coffee bean products. I have tried about every arborio or close cousin I encounter. Acquerello is by far a superior product. American arborio is fine for last minute, when you are out of "the good stuff". My family loves risotto and we have it often enough to know the difference. Arborio never really gets to that creamy consistency of the carnaroli, the robust hearty texture and pure luxury. Quite frankly it is a pleasure bandit, the payoff does not sanction my time or infringement on other quality ingredients. Of course you can try and disguise it with "better stock, more butter, cream or more cheese" but at the end of the day, does that mean you initially chose flavorless stock? And skimped on butter or cheese? I think the answer is no, if you venture to ask the difference between risotto brands and types of grain quality, you are not cutting corners so to speak (in the kitchen anyway). As far as which Carnaroli brand has better footing? I would have to fold, when I found Acquerello I tried nothing else, as you cannot improve perfect. I can say, it is aged, does that make a difference in quality (as with so many other products) hmm, I guess it may, or why would you go through the trouble? The claim is when aged you can have creaminess and firm texture without mush. Team Acquerello for me! Enjoy your adventure!

            11 Replies
            1. re: CSote

              Thanks for posting this. Do you have a link for the purchase of Acquerello?

              As far as using better quality rice, and then using other ingredients that are not "better quality," I don't think anyone is suggesting that. The quality of all ingredients makes a difference in final result and its hedonic pleasure.

              I agree that we can incrementally increase the quality of the dish and its flavor by boosting the quality of most ingredients in the dish: great rice (hence this thread I began), wonderful Parmigiano Reggiano, imported butter, great stock, great onion, and so forth.

              But I am also an advocate that as a cook you get as close to perfection as possible, using as many ingredients in their highest quality form as you can. If the home cook must use canned or Tetra-pack stock in order to enjoy risotto, then so be it. It's better to make the dish and enjoy it than not make it because you do not have fresh homemade stock, IMO.

              1. re: maria lorraine

                I don't know if they have the best on-line prices, but Acquerello's Carnaroli is available from Amazon, among other Internet sources, in various sizes.

                1. re: MikeG

                  Amazon generally has the best prices, but note that they sell both the standard and aged varieties with the aged being pricier. The regular is great.

                  1. re: ferret

                    I know some of the Amazon listings explicitly mention aging and some don't, but judging from what they say on their website (, I believe all of Acquerello's carnaroli is aged the same.

                    1. re: ferret

                      Yet another nuance: aged risotto rice.
                      Never had considered this before -- thank you.

                      1. re: maria lorraine

                        I can confirm that all Acquerello carnaroli are 1 year aged risotto; they were among the first (if not the first) to promote this, and some big Italian brands (like Gallo) are following suite.

                        I second CSote, this is what I always use in Italy when making risotto, as it gives me consistent results and creamy al dente grain.

                        But you can use different rice type according to the results you want to obtain: vialone nano, for instance, has smaller grains and works very well (better?) with some risotti you want very creamy, like mushrooms risotto. Even Arborio (but it does not keep the heat as well, and you could loose the al dente feeling very easily) has his merits, as well as less known varieties like Baldo, Rosa Marchetti or Razza77 (these last two being very similiar to Carnaroli).

                        1. re: Pollodigomma

                          Their standard rice is aged one year but they also sell a 7-year aged rice (which is much more expensive).


                          1. re: ferret

                            Huh, interesting. Thanks for posting that link. I didn't notice that when I was searching the web, nor had I seen it locally when I first came upon the brand.

                            I just took another look at their website and curiously, the extra-aged version only seems to be mentioned in passing, on the "packaging" page. It's not discussed on the page about aging at all.

                            1. re: MikeG

                              I buy the standard Acquerello regularly, although I once tried the extra-aged and didn't notice an appreciable difference.

                              1. re: ferret

                                I haven't tried Acquererllo's carnaroli yet myself, but saw it while browsing at Eataly, and made a mental note to give it a shot when my current supply of risotto rices runs out...

                          2. re: Pollodigomma

                            Thank you, Pollodigomma. I have searched out the Acquerello carnaroli. Found good prices on Amazon.

                            Appreciate all your tips and help.