Italy is the leading producer and exporter of pasta in the world. Pasta is in fact part of the cultural heritage of Italy: it is the most authentic and famous made-in-Italy product in Europe and in the world. Pasta with tomato, which is the typical Neapolitan pasta, has even been declared an intangible cultural heritage of humanity by Unesco.
There are hundreds of recipes and ways to cook it, many of which are passed down from generation to generation. Penne, orecchiette, fusilli, linguine, bucatini, farfalle, rigatoni, various types of spaghetti… There are as many types of Italian pasta as there are ways to prepare them. And some varieties, such as Gragnano pasta, are particularly valuable.
Among the dry, fresh, long, short, smooth and wholemeal striped varieties, there are more than three hundred types of Italian pasta. Healthy and tasty food can be cooked in a thousand ways: each Italian region boasts its own specialties. Numerous brands that produce it today have centuries-old origins, some were even founded at the end of the nineteenth century. The production techniques, over time, have evolved, but always maintain a certain link with tradition, to give a genuine and tasty product.
Water and flour are the only two ingredients that make up pasta, but when we choose pasta at the supermarket, what information do we need to evaluate to understand if we have a quality product in front of us? Some information can be found directly on the label, while others can be found by consulting the official websites of the producers. The factors to take into account when buying pasta are: flour (durum wheat semolina); the origin (ideally it would be of Italian origin, because Italian wheat is grown using fewer pesticides); drawing (better with bronze than Teflon); drying (preferably from 18 to 60 hours of drying at temperatures below 50 °).
What is the difference between industrial pasta and artisanal pasta? The parameters are many and varied, from the size of the factories to the automation of the supply chain which also determines the quantity of final product. Then there is the choice of raw materials: for an industrial pasta factory the quality of the raw material is important, but in an artisan pasta factory the choice is fundamental, because the possibilities of making up for any qualitative deficiencies of the semolina during processing are minimal. It can be seen, then, how the artisan pasta factory is freer in the creation of formats, often different from the usual and created to enhance traditional recipes. The coloring and cooking of artisanal pasta are not uniform and, finally, the price for the consumer is a significant difference to be taken into account: industrial pasta costs on average much less than artisanal ones.
Let’s see below which are then the best Italian Pasta Brands.
For more than 130 years, Voiello has been synonymous with quality pasta. The history of the pasta factory begins in 1879 in Torre Annunziata, Campania, when Teodoro Voiello, the son of a pasta maker, found an ideal ground for the production of pasta. It will then be his son, Giovanni, who will give life to the Antico Pastificio Giovanni Voiello. Over the decades, Voiello pasta crosses the borders of the region and arrives in Milan, Bergamo, Genoa, and Florence.
Already in 1910, the pasta factory was producing about 30,000 quintals of pasta. Technologies advance but tradition is never put aside: the strict selection of wheat, the robust and compact dough, and the bronze drawing still make Voiello pasta one of the best on the market today. Pasta Voiello today is owned by Fratelli Barilla S.p.A. and its factory is located in the industrial area of Caserta.
Its production is based on three rules that are handed down from generation to generation: having carefully selected durum wheat as an ingredient, being subjected to bronze drawing and following a natural drying method.
The ingredient chosen for the pasta is Golden Wheat, one of the most precious and renowned ever, which stands out for its protein content. It is grown and ground only in Italy and is the result of many years of studies and selections. All formats are bronze drawn. Its degree of drying is historically at low temperature and very slow with 9 hours for short formats, 18 hours for long formats and 36 hours for all special formats. There are many formats available, including linguine rigate, gran fusilli and grooved spaghetti. The packaging label is beautiful, recently renewed in a retro style. The only language on the label is Italian.
The Barilla tradition has been handed down within the founding family since the year of its birth in 1877. Today the Barilla brand is a symbol of ‘made in Italy’ all over the world.
The company works closely with local farmers, enhancing the supply chain from the point of view of quality and environmental, social and economic sustainability.
The new products are the result of the integration of four varieties of durum wheat that are grown in Italy. The main formats have also been redesigned and increased in thickness and diameter.
The look of the package has also been recently renewed (now the label is sky blue) and the pasta is made with 100% Italian wheat. Relatively low (compared to the main competitors) the protein value: only 12.8%. The assortment is varied, even with 7 exclusive formats. The price is interesting, considering the spread of this pasta worldwide. Only the Italian language is present on the label.
Pasta Garofalo S.p.A. is one of the oldest and best known companies on the Italian pasta market. Pasta Garofalo has been produced since 1789 in Gragnano, a place that due to its climate and conditions is particularly ideal for the production of high quality pasta. Since then, the pasta factory has enjoyed almost unstoppable success over the centuries, today boasting technologies and certifications that have ensured its success abroad, especially in Japan and Europe.
The wheat used is both European and non-European. Garofalo uses the best wheat that comes from some parts of the world such as Australia and Arizona, but also from some Italian areas. All the grains used are not subjected to early drying and the type of drawing is almost always bronze, to maintain balance between color and porosity of the pasta, with drying ranging from 40 ° up to 80 °. High protein value: 14%. Some formats are bronze-drawn, while others are Teflon-drawn. This material makes the pasta less porous, therefore ideal for particular sauces, such as broth. Drying times and temperatures also vary according to the processing, to ensure the best quality.
The range of products is wide and varied: from short pasta, such as curls and cappelletti, to long pasta, such as bucatini and fettucce. Without forgetting the specialties, such as candles and couscous, up to the wholemeal and gluten free pasta shapes. A production that has always focused on the high quality of raw materials. Finally, the transparent packaging of its products reveals a world of quality to the consumer’s eyes, with four types of pasta (durum wheat semolina pasta, whole durum wheat pasta, gluten-free, organic for children) and more than eighty formats.
De Cecco is an Abruzzo company that has been producing quality pasta since 1886. And as a testimony to the link with the territory and tradition, its logo depicts a young peasant woman wearing the traditional costumes of the region. The first De Cecco pasta factory was born in Fara San Martino (Chieti), a name that has now become famous in the food sector, not only for pasta, but also for ready-made sauces, tomato derivatives and extra virgin olive oil.
De Cecco is one of the most appreciated and popular brands not only in Italy, but also abroad. Today, in fact, De Cecco is the third largest pasta producer in the world. The meticulous selection of the grain, the mixing with fresh spring water and the bronze drawing contribute to making it better. This historic Italian pasta is also characterized by a high protein value (14%), for the bronze drawing and for the slow drying preparation. It was Filippo De Cecco, founder of the company, who invented this method in the distant 1889: he developed the first system for drying pasta through hot air, extending its conservation and making production independent from weather conditions. Today the degree of drying of the pasta is at a temperature of 60/65 ° with 10 hours for short pasta and 36 hours for long pasta. Another distinctive sign of De Cecco pasta is the excellent water used in the dough, which comes from the Majella mountains. The semolina is obtained from selected European and extra European grains. The production line today offers semolina pasta, egg pasta, special pasta, rice, gnocchi, flour, semolina and organic products. The assortment is wide, while the price is higher than its competitors. The label is only in Italian.
Born in 1912 in Campobasso, Molise, as an artisan shop, the La Molisana pasta factory is immediately appreciated for the quality of its products. A success story that has allowed the export of Molise pasta throughout Europe, Asia and America.
A company characterized by a high degree of innovation has created the Spaghetto Quadrato, an exclusive format that has an excellent response from the market. It is subsequently proposed in a wholemeal pasta version, which reflects the attention to a natural and simple diet.
The entire production of the brand uses only Italian durum wheat with a high protein content (14%), grown in Molise, Marche, Lazio, Abruzzo and Puglia which are purely favorable areas, with a medium / low degree of drying. Molisana is bronze drawn to make the pasta rough in order to capture all the sauce, while for some shapes the drawing is Teflon so as to give a smooth surface ideal for less elaborate condiments. Clean water from the Molise springs is used in the mixture. Among the many formats available, we point out the square spaghetti, the trighetti (triangular spaghetti) and the quadrotti (macaroni with a square base). All in the recently renovated ecological cardboard packaging. The label has indications in Italian only.
Pasta Rummo brings to every dish a history of goodness spanning over 150 years. In fact, it was 1846 when Antonio Rummo began grinding wheat and producing pasta in Benevento. The flagship of the company is the Slow Processing method, drawn from tradition.
Rummo pasta is characterized by the quality of Italian raw materials, by the high protein index (14.5%) and by the slow processing method with drying at low temperatures. It is also bronze drawn. In addition to the classic shapes, the whole bio, the professional line, the egg pasta, baked or gluten-free, there are the long candles and the “Legendary” ones. The range has recently expanded with organic lines, produced with Italian wheat and rich in fibers, protecting the environment. The label is multilingual and with lots of useful information in the right place.
Attilio Mastromauro created the Granoro Pastificio in 1967. Today, more than one hundred and fifty shapes of pasta are made in his factory. It is a pasta made with 100% wheat made in Puglia, the land of the best durum wheat in Italy. To produce Granoro Dedicato pasta, coarse-grained semolina with high quality gluten, a protein quantity equal to 13% and pure water from the springs is used. The pasta is bronze drawn and dried slowly and at a low temperature. Therefore, it maintains the golden yellow color of the wheat and the scent of the ripe ears.
The peculiarity of the product is that, once cooking is finished, it maintains an optimal level of elasticity and consistency for some time, without being patinated on the surface. A result was obtained thanks to the careful selection of fine semolina with high protein content.
Many processing available, some typical of Puglia and others decidedly original, such as the “clouds”, the “cavatelli murgiani” and the “mushrooms”. The label is pleasant and clear, with many foreign languages.
Divella has specialized in the production of durum wheat semolina pasta since 1890. Founded in Rutigliano, just outside Bari, Francesco Divella is now entrusted to the management of the fourth generation. Divella pasta is now an icon of Italy. It is also known and exported all over the world.
In its mills, twelve hundred tons of durum wheat and four hundred tons of soft wheat are ground every day. And every day the pasta factory produces about one thousand tons of dry pasta and thirty-five tons of fresh pasta.
Twelve pastes are available with bronze drawings. The protein content is 13% and the semolina comes from both the European Union and from outside the European Union. There is a wide assortment of pastas available with over 150 formats, with a classic line, a bronze drawn one, one of special shapes and specialties, one of egg pasta, one of wholemeal pasta, one of fantasies (such as linguine with basil and garlic or penne with red pepper) and one gluten-free. The package label is multilingual.
Its pasta is signed “with name and surname”, according to the will of its founder, Benedetto Cavalieri, in 1918. Today it produces 32 sizes of durum wheat semolina including the famous Spaghettoni and the Ruote pazze, and 8 shapes of wholemeal pasta organic naturally rich in fiber and with a remarkable cooking resistance. Each product is the result of a careful selection of durum wheat grown in the hilly area of Basilicata and Puglia, without the intensive use of fertilizers.
It is worked with the so-called “delicate” method, which involves long kneading, slow kneading, pressing and bronze drawing, while drying takes place at a low temperature.
Pastificio dei Campi
At the heart of the production philosophy of the Pastificio dei Campi, founded in 2004 by Giuseppe Di Martino, is the traceability of the raw material. Located in Gragnano (Naples), it avails itself of the collaboration of Apulian farmers who produce wheat with high nutritional values, without the use of chemical fertilizers and glyphosates. This Gragnano pasta has obtained the 100% Made in Italy certification. In fact, the Pastificio dei Campi uses durum wheat grown in Italy. The classic bronze drawing is chosen precisely to give the porous appearance so that you can capture all the goodness of a rich dressing.
As for the drying, the short pasta is placed on the wooden frames while the long pasta on the canes, allowing the drying to take place naturally inside the static cells until the moment of packaging, with very low temperatures and with timings slow, from 28 to 60 hours.
Today the company is led by Giuseppe and Giovanna Di Martino, third-generation pasta makers and modern interpreters of a tradition that has been perpetuated for more than 500 years, that of Gragnano pasta makers.
The Liguori pasta factory is one of the oldest ones in Italy. It was founded, in fact, in 1795 in Gragnano, the “city of pasta” par excellence. Furthermore, in the last ten years, the Pastificio Liguori has established itself as one of the major producers at national and international level. In addition to Italy, in fact, it is present in 40 Countries around the world, including the USA, Japan, China, Australia, Brazil.
Liguori pasta is made with the best durum wheat from southern Italy and with the purest water from the Lattari Mountains Regional Park. It is a spring water with particular chemical-physical characteristics, which gives the Liguori pasta a unique, unmistakable flavor. Processing is very slow and the company combines semolina and pure water in order for cooking to have an excellent seal. Furthermore, this pasta is characterized by its very high protein content: 14.5%. As for the drawing, it is bronze so as to give the surface the correct lining to enhance the flavor and capture the seasoning. Drying times are very important and the process can take up to 18 hours at very low temperatures. Finally, the package, entirely in recyclable paper, is multilingual.