When my children were children pasta was frequently on our dinner menu because it was one of the few meals everyone ate almost regardless of the sauce.  Though the kids are gone my love of pasta has not dissipated.  Therefore I was particularly struck by the results of a dried pasta taste test as described in the article, “The Last Noodle Standing” (New York Magazine, May 4). Three of the four panelists are chefs: Marco Conora of Insieme, Hearth, and Terroir; Mark Ladner of Del Posto; and Cesare Casella of Salumeria Rosi; the fourth, the actor, Steve Schirripa, played Uncle Junior’s manservant, Bobby Baccalieri on The Soprano’s.  Try to ignore the fact that no women were included and read on.

Eight brands of dried spaghetti were blind-tasted.  They were boiled in four batches in salted water, and served two ways: plain (to ascertain its wheaty essence) and with butter and Parmesan (because no one eats pasta plain).  The rating was on a 30 point scale, giving 10 each for flavor, texture, and how well the spaghetti conveyed the butter and Parmesan, with four judges that made a possible perfect score of 120 points. 

The results for seven of the eight are – Ta-dah:


BRAND               COMMENTS                                PRICE                        SCORE

Barilla           America’s most popular brand        $1.79 a pound                   53

SeTaro          touted by many NY chefs                  $6.95 for 35 ounces        62


Cavalieri     thought to be a “cheap” brand          $8.79 for 17.6 ounces     67


Classica      high points for sauce absorption     $8.00 for 17.6 ounces      71

Martelli     texture good, flavor not so much     $8.00 for 17.6 ounces        83

Rustichella    lost by one point, less flavor       $6.50 for 17.6 ounces         93

Trader Joe’s  both great aroma and performer     99 cents a pound           94

Who can argue with the experts – pasta is the ideal recessionary meal.  I have conducted my own non-blind tasting and have switched from Rustichella to Trader Joe’s.  For $1.29 a pound I would recommend trying The Trader Joe’s organic pasta, well worth the extra 30 cents.  Bon Appetit.


Debbie Jones-Steele

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