Lovers of artisanal pasta once opted mainly for fresh, but times are changing: Sfoglini, the brainchild of Chef Steve Gonzalez and Scott Ketchum, produces artisanal, locally sourced dry pastas in New York City. This chef-driven, organic pasta brand opts entirely for American grains, producing pastas you can feel good about buying and serving to your family.
A New York Pasta
With its Italian culinary heritage, New York City has long been a pasta mecca, and Gonzalez is part of that tapestry. Boasting over 20 years of experience in top kitchens like Insieme, Roberta’s, and Frankies Sputino, Gonzalez was particularly excited about creating a superior dry pasta in New York City.
“It started as a New York focus,” explains co-founder Ketchum. “We put that into our identity and who we are. We really felt that there’s a rich culinary history here, and a strong tradition of pasta-making in Brooklyn that has disappeared over the years, and we wanted to bring that back.”
The “local” focus isn’t limited to New York, either. Unlike other companies that import their grains or flours from Italy, Sfoglini stays local – and not only to be hip to the trends.
When the team was first developing its recipes, Sfoglini’s chefs experimented with different flours from all over the world – only to find that the local grains were systematically the best.
“We felt that the best grains – the ones that met our standards, both in the way they’re milled and also in taste, in quality – were coming from the U.S.,” says Ketchum. “And they were all organic.”
Today, much of Sfoglini’s grain comes from New York State; the durum semolina used in many of the pasta, meanwhile, hails from organic farms in North Dakota.
Tradition and Taste
While Sfoglini is certainly ticking all the boxes for what a modern, conscious consumer wants, they’re also catering to tradition.
Sfoglini uses only bronze dies to create and cut its organic pasta, giving the noodles a unique, rugged texture that allows the sauce to cling to them more easily.
“A lot of bigger companies are going away from bronze and going towards Teflon, which gave them a more smooth textured pasta,” Ketchum says. This method is cheaper and faster, but the texture of the pasta pales in comparison.
The bronze dies, he explains, “give that rustic texture to the pasta, and the pasta sauces cling to it and absorb that, so it gives you a better bite each time.”
Once the pasta shapes are formed, the noodles are dried at low temperatures, preserving nutrients and flavor in the final product.
Today, Sfoglini produces sixteen organic durum semolina pasta and a series of pasta made with organic rye, emmer, einkorn, and spelt from New York state.
Sfoglini also produces a line of specialty pasta, a tradition that began with one of the most essential pasta accompaniments: fresh basil.
“We started to think: ‘What are other things that you add to a pasta dish normally?’” explains Ketchum. “Most pasta dishes have some kind of a basil, either in the sauce or as a garnish on top, so we used fresh basil from some local rooftop farms when we started out, and then we would purée that after it was cooked and then add it to the pasta itself.”
After seeing at farmer’s markets, one of Sfoglini’s first retail outlets, that the basil pasta was selling out faster than many of the others, the team decided to launch other seasonal pasta, including nettle, ramp, beet, and fennel.
“In summertime, we work with mint and basil,” explains Ketchum. “In the fall, we move onto chili pepper. Essentially this has become a Sriracha pasta, which we make with another farm that makes their own sauce that we incorporate into the pasta. So it’s all based on seasonality and seasonal cooking. And what people would normally put on the dishes at home.”
Sfoglini pasta are currently being served at New York restaurants such as Tom Colicchio’s Riverpark, Chef’s Club by Food & Wine and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. But these pasta are also easy to buy and cook up at home, either at Whole Foods Market or via the company’s online shop.
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