Fresh pasta doesn’t only taste delicious in Italy – it’s just as good at L’Osteria. And because we wanted to know exactly how our pasta is produced, we began the process of setting up our own pasta factory in Nuremberg, Germany in 2013.
We started small: With only 5 pasta machines and the initial goal of making the perfect maccheroni al torchio or gnocchi, we embarked on our adventure in the not uncomplicated art of pasta making. Simply to figure out the right recipe for the pasta dough took time – it took several attempts before we were 100% happy with the result. Consider this: The tiniest amount more or less of water in the dough can mean the difference between a hit and a miss. And the temperature and air humidity must be just so in the factory if the pasta is to be al dente after cooking and to retain its shape.
With filled pasta like tortelloni you have the added problem of getting the consistency of the filling exactly right. If it’s too thick, the machine will get clogged up – and if you add too much water the whole thing ends up in one giant mess because the filling ends up everywhere except in the tortelloni. However, we were so excited by the possibility of being able to combine top-notch pasta with seasonal fillings that we finally managed to come up with the right recipes. Once we had mastered the pasta dough and the fillings, the next challenge was to get the settings of original Italian pasta machines right and to optimise the work processes to allow us to work as efficiently as possible with our raw materials.
Why is this such a big issue in pasta production? The dough or the filling dry out quickly even if the temperature and humidity are right and are then no longer as elastic as they need to be for processing. Which means that the mechanical production must go ahead without delay. Just “squidging it all together” and trying again as you would at home with cookie dough is not an option when it comes to pasta making. Dough that fails at the first attempt will never make it as pasta.
However, we’ve now got the hang of it – and not just with our strozzapreti – and expanded our pasta factory at a cost of € 1.2 million. With a total of nine machines with a combined value of over € 300,000 and an extended pure production surface of 250 square metres, we are currently able to produce 15 different types of pasta. New machines are already in the pipeline. Assuming that the machines run without a hitch, this means that we can produce about two tonnes of fresh pasta per day. So that it stays fresh and can be supplied to all our restaurants, every single piece of pasta is immediately frozen as soon it comes out of the machine and the product is then carefully packed in cartons. Thanks to the ventilation system installed specifically for this purpose we can do without pasteurisation, because germs have no chance of surviving the filter. The cartons with the frozen fresh pasta are then delivered to our current total of 59 L’Osteria outlets in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, all without interrupting the cold chain.
And what happens to the pasta in the restaurant? At L’Osteria you can look on as we prepare our delicious pasta dishes. In the open kitchen, our beloved Cucina, the pasta goes into hot water portion by portion before being introduced to the sauce and the ingredients of your choice and, as soon as it is al dente, ending up steaming on your plate. At this moment we recognise all over again that all the effort was more than worthwhile – because nothing gives us greater pleasure than seeing a guest relishing the taste and joining the fan club for our pasta d’amore.