/Pasta di Gragnano

Pasta di Gragnano


Pasta has been made in Italy for thousands of years. That’s right. Marco Polo didn’t bring the recipe for pasta back from the East. In fact, his wife probably served him a heaping plate of it upon his return. The Romans called it laganum and the Arabs, who conquerred the Italian south in the 9th century, called it itriyya. But it was not until the 16th century in Grangano near Naples that pasta became an industrial product. It encountered some speed bumps along the way (famine, drought, and epidemic in the area each played their part), but by the 18th century, pasta di Gragnano began to travel beyond Campania’s borders to other parts of Italy. Soon after, pasta would become a signature dish of many regions in Italy.

So what is so special about pasta di Gragnano? What does the name really mean? The name itself implies a location and style of production, much the same way that a DOC wine appellation does. To be called pasta di Gragnano, the pasta must be produced in a legally defined area in and around the Bay of Naples and it must be made by mixing durum wheat with the calcium poor water of the Monti Lattari. The dough is forced through rough bronze forms (trafilata al bronzo) and dried at low temperatures in the mountain air. The result is a high quality product with plenty of surface area to absorb the flavor and liquid of the sauce with which it is served. And remember: that starchy pasta water should not go to waste. Add some to the sauce as it cooks, then finish the drained pasta in the same pan.

2016-01-07T14:38:15+00:00 April 29th, 2009|Categories: Carbs, Gastronomic Traditions|17 Comments


  1. exromana April 29, 2009 at 12:41 am - Reply

    katie- so do you also agree w. the theory that the arabs brought pasta to italy? thanks for writing this post-i had forgotten all about this pasta. where in rome could one find it? ie which restaurant? i once had it at da bolognese but i find that place too stuffy -despite the fact that they serve goodfood). a few years ago i read an article about pasta di gragnano- it was one of the US based papers-either the washington post-in case you want to search for this article!. one of the big whig producers of this pasta said that he wants to be known as the “vintner” of pasta. i think it’s so amazing that “all things gastronomy” in italy can be classified and given their own niche. if cheese, ham, olives, wine can have their own DOC why not pasta? i also recall from the article that pasta used to be called macaroni but it became a derogatory term associated with poverty in the south, therefore, later, the word pasta became ubiquitous. i am going to try to find the article and post it here, in case youre interested. hope to see more of your beautiful photos!

  2. exromana April 29, 2009 at 12:42 am - Reply

    sorry i meant either the washington post or the NYT

  3. JP April 29, 2009 at 3:48 am - Reply

    this photo is worth a thousand words!

  4. Katie April 29, 2009 at 2:51 am - Reply

    @exromana i think the arabs revitalized an old tradition in Sicily by bringing technology and irrigation techniques back to the island after the collapse of the Roman Empire and the Gothic occupation. If we define pasta as dough made from flour and water, cut, dried, then cooked, then we can point to ancient Roman recipes that can qualify as pasta. Some theorize that the recipe was first created in the east, then migrated through Greece to Rome during antiquity. either way, the Arabs certainly brought their own recipes to Sicily in the middle ages and used local ingredients (durum wheat) to make them. In Rome you can find pasta di Gragnano (and other high quality durum wheat pastas) on the tables at Roscioli, Guida Ballerino, Uve e Forme, and Il Ristoro deli Angeli.

    is this the article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A17546-2005Jan18.html

    its from the Washington Post…Ciao!

  5. Katie April 29, 2009 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    @JP does that wooden surface look familiar?

  6. JP April 30, 2009 at 8:13 pm - Reply

    oh – was that photo taken in your cozy cucina?

  7. The Food Smuggler December 14, 2009 at 9:43 pm - Reply

    […] UK , I filled my suitcase with oil (5 litres of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil to be exact), pasta di gragnano, parmigiano regiano, pecorino romano, caciocavallo, pesto, biscottini , Taurasi, and Barolo, […]

  8. Lasagne October 30, 2010 at 5:49 pm - Reply

    […] love the texture ofpasta di gragnano. The surface of these lasagne is rough like sandpaper due to its having been extruded through rough […]

  9. […] Katie. Pasta di Gragnano. 29 April 2009. Parla […]

  10. giuseppe migliaccio June 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    my question wich is the best and top quality family that produce good pasta in Gragnano. And the modern sistem is better then the hold one. And wich are the contact and the name of this best people in Gragnano.

  11. Max March 16, 2012 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    I am glad that the pasta rom Gragnano is getting so popular in the UK
    The best one?
    try http://www.gourmet-eataly.com
    Great selection of Gragnano Faella pasta

  12. […] gr di vongole veraci e lupini 500 gr di cozze 300 gr di pasta “calamarata” della GRAGNANO prezzemolo fresco tritato 1 spicchio di aglio sale q.b Gemma di mare 6 cucchiai di passata […]

  13. Lunch in Naples August 21, 2013 at 7:36 pm - Reply

    […] who's cooking it–this could be beef, pork, veal, and maybe even some offal) and dried pasta from Gragnano, the town near Naples famous for its dried pasta. My mom, not Napolitana but Siciliana, made ragu […]

  14. […] from Gragnano and Ragu – A four-hour ragu of meats  and dried pasta from Gragnano, the town near Naples famous for its dried […]

  15. […] cooking it–this could be beef, pork, veal, and maybe even some offal) and dried pasta from Gragnano, the town near Naples famous for its dried pasta.  My mom, not Napolitana but Siciliana, […]

  16. […] Of course, Italians have been making pasta for centuries. So, in order to do everything right, she took a few research trips to Italy. In Gragnano, near Naples, she learnt the techniques and the tricks of the trade from some of the oldest pastamakers in the country. […]

  17. Josh May 5, 2018 at 11:38 am - Reply

    Yes, this often repeated myth about Marco Polo really annoys me. Archaeologists have found remains of ancient Roman pasta similar to Lasagne. A famous Arab traveller and writer (I’ve forgotten his name) encounters pasta on a visit to Sicily in the C16th and took it back home several years before Polo was born.

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