In this article, we will try to answer a question we have been asked many times: what is the best Italian pasta? Let’s start from a firm point: the brands we will talk about are absolutely the best on the market. Strictly made in Italy, they are known and appreciated by Italian and foreign consumers. They fill the shelves of supermarkets in Italy and are also highly sought-after abroad.
It is no coincidence, in fact, that Italy is the main producer and exporter of pasta in the world. In our country, over 62% of the population consumes pasta every day. In the year just ended, despite the serious health emergency, the value of pasta exports reached € 2.6 billion, with an increase of over 7% in 2019. The markets in which the best performances for Italian pasta were recorded are Germany, United Kingdom, France, the USA, and Japan.
Identifying the best Italian pasta is not difficult. For starters, you can do a little home test. Just pour the pasta into a container with water at room temperature and check it after a couple of hours. Has the pasta remained compact, without releasing too much starch into the water? If that happens, the quality is excellent. Another reliable indicator is the protein content. If it is between 12.5% and 15% it means that the semolina used is good. Normally this information is not shown on the labels, but it is sufficient to check, in the nutritional values, how many grams of protein there are per 100 g of product. If the pasta is bronze-drawn, it will have better cooking resistance; moreover, the higher roughness will allow it to retain the sauce better. Also: the drying at low temperatures (often mentioned on the labels) influences both the physical characteristics of the product (for example the color, more similar to that of wheat), and the nutritional ones, and assures better cooking resistance.
On the basis of what criteria, then, did we choose the best Italian pasta for your supermarket abroad? We focused on three main elements:
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A historic Italian brand, well known and appreciated all over the world. Buitoni pasta is available both with and without bronze drawing. The protein content is low (12%), while the semolina used is both EU and non-EU. Beautiful label, multilingual and clearly showing the cooking time. Not the best Italian pasta, but undoubtedly among the best, also due to the excellent value for money.
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Coming from Apulia, Divella pasta is now an icon in our country. It is also known and exported all over the world. There are twelve dies available with bronze-drawing. The protein content is 13% and the semolina comes partially from the EU and the rest from outside the EU. The label is representative, but perhaps a little dated; however it is multilingual. Wide assortment.
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The Barilla brand is a symbol of the made in Italy all over the world. It has a look that has recently been renewed (now the label is sky blue) and, for about a year, this pasta has been made with 100% Italian wheat. Relatively low protein value (“only” 12.8%). The assortment is varied, even with 7 patented and exclusive formats (we talked about it here previously), but the label is exclusively in Italian. Interesting price, considering how widespread this pasta is worldwide.
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The seventh place in the ranking of the best Italian pasta is occupied by De Cecco. It is one of the most appreciated and popular brands not only in our country, but also abroad. This historic Italian pasta is characterized by a high protein value (14%), bronze drawing, and slow drying preparation. As attested in the prestigious Treccani Encyclopedia, it was Filippo De Cecco who invented this method back in 1889. Another distinctive sign of De Cecco pasta is the excellent water used in the dough, coming from the Majella mountains. The semolina is obtained from selected European and extra European grains. One would expect 100% Italian wheat from a symbol of our country. The label, important and representative (albeit a little dated) is only in Italian. Wide assortment, but the price is higher than its competitors.
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In sixth place is Pasta Delverde. We are talking about a high-quality product that is gaining more and more consensus both in our country and abroad. Delverde pasta is produced with selected wheat from all over the world. It has a high protein content (14%) and is bronze-drawn. The manufacturing process is characterized by slow drying and low cooking temperatures. But the real added value is the water used: it comes from the Verde River, which flows near the factory, and arrives at the pasta factory without undergoing any treatment. Low mineral water with low mineral content, perfect for producing high-quality pasta. Beautiful label, recently renewed and with information in several foreign languages.
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The fifth place in our special ranking is occupied by pasta Granoro Dedicato. It is a pasta made with 100% wheat coming from Apulia, the land of the best durum wheat in Italy. To produce Granoro Dedicato pasta, coarse-grained semolina with high-quality gluten, is used, as well as pure water from the Caposele and Cassano Irpino springs is used, with a protein quantity equal to 13%. The pasta is bronze drawn and dried slowly and at a low temperature. In this way, it maintains the golden yellow color of the wheat and the scent of the ripe ears. The label is nice and clear, but not particularly eye-catching. It is written in many foreign languages. Many dies are available, some typical from Apulia and others decidedly original, such as the nuvole (“clouds”), the cavatelli murgiani, and the funghetti “mushrooms”. Interesting price.
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Pasta Garofalo is synonymous with Italian excellence and deserves a place on the shelves of your supermarket abroad! It 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. The wheat used is both European and non-European. 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 die, to guarantee the best quality and, above all… the best performance on the plate! The completely transparent packaging is beautiful, and proudly showing its contents. Too bad it is not multilingual. Valid price and wide assortment.
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In third place of our special ranking, we find Voiello pasta. It is made with 100% Grano Aureo (a variety of wheat), one of the most precious and renowned ever, with a high protein content (14%) and gluten. All the formats are bronze-drawn. The label is beautiful, recently renewed in retro style. The unique language present is Italian. Many formats available, among which linguine rigate, gran fusilli, and spaghetti scanalati (grooved spaghetti) stand out.
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In the place of honor, as the best Italian according to Bell Italia, is La Molisana. A premium product that brings with it over a century of history in every dish, made with 100% Italian durum wheat, high protein content (14%), tenacious and elastic, and with a high yellow index. Molisana is bronze drawn, and crystalline water from the Molise springs is used in the mixture. In 2019 it received the prestigious Leonardo Qualità Italia award, assigned to this truly special pasta for its quality and its vocation to the export. Intriguing label, clear with indications, although only in Italian. Among the many formats available, we point out spaghetti quadrati (square spaghetti), sfizioni trighetti (triangular spaghetti), and quadrotti (maccheroni with a square base). The latter in the beautiful tricolor packaging.
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The best Italian pasta in Bell Italia’s opinion. Pasta Rummo brings a history of quality, over 150 years long, to every dish. Produced in Benevento, in southern Italy, it boasts high-quality Italian raw materials, a high protein index (14.5%), and a slow processing method with drying at low temperatures. Moreover, it is bronze-drawn. The label is original, as well as multilingual and with lots of useful information in the right place. A note of merit: the great attention to the environment and some very special formats, such as “paccherotti”.
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