Monday, July 1, 2013

Making My Own Pasta at Giovanni Rana Pastificio E Cucina

By: Wela Quan

Have you ever thought about how pasta is made?

If you are like me, you probably have never really thought about how ravioli or tortelli is made – probably because you have always been too busy stuffing them in your mouth. When I heard about a pasta making class at Giovanni Rana, the new Italian restaurant and pasta factory in Chelsea Market, I was all too eager to sign up. Nothing sounded more fun than creating my own pasta!
Setting up! 

Although Giovanni Rana may not be a name familiar to many Americans, in Italy his name has long been synonymous with fresh made pasta. The Pastificio E Cucina is located in a beautiful Chelsea Market space with high ceilings right on 9th Avenue. For the evening’s class, we were going to be making a green market tortelli as well as a tiramisu tortelli  both to be made completely from scratch using fresh ingredients. I was very surprised to learn that the class was going to be lead by none other than Antonella Rana – Giovanni’s daughter in law. Staying true to being a family business, Antonella’s son and young daughter were also part of the teaching which brought a very intimate atmosphere to the class – as if we were in Giovanni’s own kitchen.
Filling for Green Market Tortelli
The first step of the tortelli was to make the dough which included combining eggs and flour for the green market tortelli and adding chocolate, cocoa, and coffee powder with little bit of wine for the tiramisu tortelli. After the dough was kneaded, we moved onto making the filling. For the green market tortelli we chopped up and combined all sorts of fresh veggies with ricotta and reggiano cheese to make a fresh creamy filling.
Making the Green Market Tortellini
For the tiramisu tortelli we added ricotta and marscapone to the coffee and chocolate mix. Once the filling was done, we were instructed to roll the dough into a very thin flat pancake and fold the dough in half to make an indentation in the middle. While it may seem simple, the dough was not nearly as cooperative as I thought since it kept shrinking back to a smaller size. I have to admit that Antonella’s young daughter definitely had to come save my dough a couple of times to prevent me from making an utter disaster out of it.
Making the Tiramisu Tortelli
Once the dough was ready, we put the filling in little piles on half of the pancake circle and used water to stick and fold over the other half of the pancake to make a pocket of food. After this we used pasta cutters to cut out the tortelli – I used both a square and a circle cutter but in hindsight should have used the heart shaped cutter to make my own heart shaped pasta! The whole process took about two hours and I ended up making enough tortelli for one meal… for one person. “Is it just me or is pasta making a whole lot of work?” I said to my classmates. “Yes” they all agreed, “definitely”. I think I’ll just stick to buying fresh from Giovanni’s next time I get a pasta craving.
The Finished Product - Savoury! 
When we finally sat down to eat the pasta, I was completely famished. Biting into the green market tortelli felt like heaven. Unlike more Americanized Italian food with lots of sauce and flavours, this tortelli was fresh, light and dressed only with a little bit of parmesan. Normally I have trouble finished a whole plate of pasta but tonight I literally wolfed it down. The fresh veggies and light cheese were filling without making me feel bloated. The tiramisu tortelli was fried and served with a strawberry coulis, the filling tasted like a velvety liquid version of the tiramisu cake – just perfect.
The Finished Product - Sweet! 
While making your own is worth doing once in awhile and definitely worth doing at Giovanni’s, for everyday dining, I would definitely leave it them to provide you with the fresh, tasty and healthy pasta you need. Or, if you are feeling even lazier, just eat it fresh at their restaurant.

Giovanni Rana Pastificio E Cucina
75th 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10014
(212) 370-0975

Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina on Urbanspoon

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