To plunge into pasta making experience, there is no better place to start than in the city of Gragnano, home to gentle winds and ancient mills as well as home to the Cuomo family, artisan Pastai - pasta makers - since 1840.
Magnifico team took the advice literally and went to visit this lovely pasta land, pleasantly guided by Alfonso and Amelia Cuomo, family third generation representatives.
Gragnano, a town of almost 30000 inhabitants located 30 km South-east of Naples in Campania region, is known worldwide as Città della pasta - City of Pasta - for one simple reason: a perfect microclimate made of the right mix of cool, dry wind, warm sun and humidity.
Moreover, Gragnano historic city centre, called la Valle dei Mulini - Mills Valley, once represented the first rich and lively centre of pasta manufacturing made of a series of ancients mills and typical medieval houses - about 30 - that were strategically placed alongside the spring in order to take advantage of the steady, natural energy from fresh and pure water streaming in from the Monti Lattari - the Lattari Mountains.
Over the time the majority of pasta factories were built in Via Roma, Gragnano ancient main roadway where we made the cheerful visit of Pasta Cuomo factory and Bistrò and spent lovely time with Alfonso and Amelia, young entrepreneurs who came back to their hometown, after years spent abroad, to revive the family business.
“While analysing historical documents of the newborn company, we discover two important facts related to our company logo and its former production method...” Amelia began her explanation full of pride and amazement. “The Cuomo family was once part of the house of knights, that’s why our logo includes the helmet and the shield. Furthermore, this house of knights counted only those who won several battles. Therefore, the logo brings an eagle and falling swirls, symbol of victory in the Middle Ages”.
After that, Alfonso brought us to the backyard where we discovered a massive stone building open to the sky. “Here you can see the remains of our historical facility, called Pastificio a Produzione Verticale - pasta factory with vertical production process, the vertical arrangement consists of three levels and safeguards the ancient and tested methods of hand-crafted production: at the bottom the grain was ground, on the second level the complete pasta manufacturing took place and finally on the top of the building the fresh pasta slowly dried on wide terraces. Once the product was ready, it ran down back to the starting point.”
“Although the production has been moved to a modern facility, our pasta is made according in respect of the main artisan methods: bronze drawing that gives the pasta the unique rough texture that traps deliciously every sauce; slow drying that goes between 24 and 48 hours, based on the pasta shapes, and that preserves the nutritional values of all ingredients.” Afonso and Amelia continue while guiding us back to the Bistrò area “Moreover, we have decided to produce our pasta with selected wheat coming from our land, with a special focus on Campania region, in order to support our farmers and the surrounding agricultural supply-chain.”
By the time Cuomo’s brothers ended their exhaustive explanation, the Bistrò kitchen was already set up for the preparation of Eliche alla Carbonara, Amelia’s favorite dish! Guanciale, Pecorino cheese and a pinch of sympathy were the main ingredients of this delicious dish that gave the team the opportunity to be chefs for one day!
HERE, for the whole recipe and list of ingredients.
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