Other than pizza, no dish is more connected to Italian cuisine than pasta. While it is unbelievably simple -semolina wheat and water - the process, the techniques and machinery used to make it, mean the difference between sublime and dull.
The best pasta is made from hard durum wheat, which is milled to become semolina. The quality and purity of the water is important. However, the die used to extrude, or shape, the pasta through the machine is critical. Only bronze die have slightly rough openings that create a pasta with a rough surface texture, which is essential for allowing the sauce to cling to and become one with the pasta. Pasta from a traditional Pastificio (pasta factory) will air dry their pasta instead of quick drying it in ovens.
At M’tucci’s we make some of our pasta shapes (campanelle, pappardelle and ravioli) and import other shapes from an Italian Pastificio (Spaghettini, Penne, Orzo, Fettucini and Tortelloni). All of our house made pastas use two kinds of semolina from durum wheat, one a fine grind and one a course grind. Our Italian pasta machine is fitted with a bronze die for each shape.
One of our favorite shapes is the Campanelle, trumpet-shaped pasta that is perfect for holding sauces, like Shrimp Campanelle with a lobster cream sauce.
We make our Pappardelle with egg, which is the traditional way that it is made in Emilia Romagna (Pappardelle all Uovo). Egg pastas have a slightly silkier texture and are perfect for butter or cream sauces, such as our Pappardelle all Crema di Porcini. We partially air dry the pasta for use in the restaurants and for sale in the Market.
Here are a few basic guidelines for making excellent pasta at home:
Use a large, lightweight pot which will bring the water to a boil more quickly.
Use a lot of water, at least 3 quarts, so the pasta won’t be gummy
At least 1.5 tablespoons of salt for every pound of pasta
Never add olive oil to the water except maybe 1 tablespoon when cooking homemade stuffed pasta to prevent it from breaking apart
Drain immediately when cooked al dente
Have the sauce ready to toss with the pasta immediately. It’s important to toss the pasta with your sauce, so it is coated with the sauce and the flavors are allowed to blend. Don’t dump the sauce on top, like my mother used to do. You’ll be happy with the results.
Buy the best pasta that you can afford. Sprouts and Whole Foods both carry very good organic pastas that have been fabricated at artisan Pastificios. DeCecco is another good brand. Look at the pasta closely before buying. Does it look like the pasta at the top of the page?
NEWS OF THE WEEK
Don’t miss the opportunity to taste a truly unique beer from Upslope, the Sazerac Style Rye Ale. For a limited time it’s on tap at Italian and Moderno. This is a limited release and won’t last long.
M’TUCCI’S MONTHLY PHOTO CONTEST
Post a photo on your Instagram Feed or your Facebook page, use the hashtag, lovemtuccis, and you’ll be entered in the monthly photo contest. The winner receives a $50 Gift Certificate. Don’t forget, quality counts, so edit your photos for proper light and exposure.
APRIL PRIX FIXE MENU - ITALIAN
3 Courses paired with three wines (announced the day of serving). $25 pp
1st Course- Market Capicola, Tomato-Onion Relish, Smoked House Mozzarella, Toasted Baguette
2nd Course- Grilled Lamb Chop, Sautéed Summer Vegetables, Creamy Garlic Polenta, Rosemary-Mint Gastrique
3rd Course- Chocolate Banana Layered Panna Cotta, Peanut Praline, Candied Bacon
1st Course- Spinach-Arugula Mix, Market Focaccia, Gorgonzola, Candied Pecans, Granny Smith Apple, Dried French Cherries, Gorgonzola Dressing
2nd Course- Dry Aged Harris Ranch Hanger Steak, Creamy Risotto, Light Tomato-Onion Agridulce, Crispy Shallots-Scallions
3rd Course- Cantaloupe Black Pepper Granita, Sesame Brittle
1st Course- Chianina Beef Carpaccio, Shaved Parmesan, Arugula, Aioli, Capers
2nd Course- Chicken Confit Piccata, Garlic Mashed Potatoes
3rd Course- BlackBerry Ricotta Cake, Citrus Whip, Almond Crumble
GET TO KNOW US
Market - Lauren has been a pastry chef for several years, working primarily at the Market & Pizzeria. She is responsible for the creative cookies and pastries that you’ll find in the deli counter.
Moderno - Michelle is our lead Pastry Chef, creating the house made desserts for Italian and Moderno.
Italian - Taña is one of the servers and bartenders at Italian and has been with us for many years.
April 21, EASTER SUNDAY - Don’t forget to make reservations for Easter at Italian and Moderno. We’ll be serving our regular brunch menu from 11:00 - 3:00. We’ll announce a few specials later in the week.
Thursday, April 18 - Marble Brewing Westside - Charcuterie Pairing with Marble ales and new dishes by Chaef Shawn from Market & Pizzeria. 6:00 - 8:00. A board and 3 7 oz. pours for $20. Tickets at Marble
April 18 - 7:00. Alex Maryol Live at Moderno
April 19 - 8:30. Keith Sanchez Live at Moderno
May 31, 6:00pm - 9:00pm: Beer Week - Beer & Food pairing with Dialogue Brewing and M’Tucci’s Market & Pizzeria. Four courses and four beers for $40. Tickets available at the Dialogue Taproom.
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Next Week: Tomatoes