In 1949 the tortillas of the Muzzarelli family arrived in Turin bringing a product that was little known at the time to Piedmont. After 70 years, and several generations, the pasta factory still keeps the recipes of the past, but also looks at the present with vegetarian and Muslim versions
It was 1949 when Alda Casini and Giuseppe Muzzarelli found themselves without anything after the war. So they decided to leave Modena and join a small relative in Turin with Achille, unaware that they would change the history of fresh pasta in Piedmont. After 70 years, that of Pastificio Muzzarelli seems more like a story to tell than a real story. But instead things went just like that.
The birth of Pastificio Muzzarelli
When Alda and Giuseppe arrived in Turin, the first idea was: "Let's try to do what we do best". And what if not the tortelli from emiliani doc? These were times when a Frecciarossa did not make cities like Bologna and Turin so close, so a world flowed between these two realities, there was no frequent, let alone gastronomic, exchange. So Alda began to prepare the cappelletti according to Giulia's original recipe, mother of Giuseppe (from which the cappelletti of grandma Giulia you find today) and to sell them around, from house to house, door to door. Soon the requests increased so much that Alda was forced to take girls to work with her, who all sat around a big table to learn the trade. Then Alda weighed the tortellini that each had prepared and gave her pocket money. It is here that Giuseppe decided to buy a car, in order to produce more pasta and satisfy the growing demand, perhaps the result of that enthusiasm for a product that was not known in Piedmont. So it was the offer that created the demand, not vice versa as often happens today. And in 1949 they opened the Pastificio Muzzarelli, using the first cappelletti of the area. But if it is true that things done by hand still make the difference, Alda and Giuseppe have managed to find a way to produce more quantities with the use of the machine, but not betraying the original recipes of the grandmother: drawn pasta pure egg of free-range hens, mixture of special flour, passage with hand cylinders and perfect porosity.
Dried pasta becomes fresh
His son Achilles was only 8 years old when he arrived in Turin. Grown in the midst of fresh pasta, he studied for a while, then the call of the tortelli was stronger. After having followed the market trend well, he had a brilliant intuition, which would have changed the history of the pasta factory: to make the pasta that previously only existed dry in the fresh version, thus giving an express alternative of better quality. "Everything you think we do in fresh, from orecchiette to garganelli, penne, scialatiello, with short cooking times and assured quality", explains Cristina, daughter of Achille. For this reason their products are very appreciated also by the restaurant, where they are more and more present in kitchens even stellate like that of Marcello Trentini of Magorabin, as well as to Milan, Brussels or Grenoble, while I am totally absent from supermarkets and in general from large retailers. Much attention is given to the choice of flours, of the best mills in Italy, also in gluten free version, as well as over time have expanded the range up to 100 types of pasta. But it is still pasta, as another cornerstone of the Muzzarelli is not to give in to diversification, choosing and believing in the importance of specification, and therefore continuing to produce only exclusively pasta. "This is a pasta factory where you only produce and buy pasta, filled and not," continues Cristina.
For vegetarians and Muslims
Pastificio Muzzarelli has also thought of vegetarians with a line of products based on seasonal vegetables. In winter, for example, there are those with pumpkin, artichoke or ricotta and spinach; in summer those with zucchini and so on with seasonal and local products, such as the Piedmont hazelnut. Throughout the year they have a supply contract with a company in Liguria that allows them to produce agnolini with borage and plin with nettle and marjoram all year round. And then they work a lot with cheeses: they absolutely must be tried fondue and truffle plin, as well as the half moons with Valdostan fontina or, again, the round agnolotti with buffalo mozzarella and smoked scamorza. In short, infinity. All products where the ancient Emilian tradition of fresh pasta is combined with other formats and ingredients that are always well tested. The last one was also to think of a version for Muslims, and then to fresh stuffed pasta without any trace of pork.
Achilles' reverse tortello
Today the Muzzarelli pasta factory has turned 70 and has reached the third generation with Cristina, Laura and Elena, the three daughters of Achilles. "We grew up among agnolotti and tortellini, inside the pasta factory, but always with the freedom to choose alternative routes". This is how Elena studied photography, Cristina economics, Laura marketing, but in the end Elena takes care of the image of the pasta factory, Cristina of the relationship with customers and Laura of production planning. So their personal paths, with different times and methods, only have them brought back "at home", always under the gaze of a father as proud, as severe, when there is to be so. "Even today he comes and scolds us when we do something wrong, as in all families. The solution is to leave the grandchildren, so he takes them and leaves. Their great joy was that of having brought to retirement those who had lulled them by small, that is, some employees who had been hired still very young by Alda and Giuseppe. With such an important history behind them, to celebrate this anniversary of the company they wanted to create a product dedicated to Achilles and his family 80 years old; something surprising, that was really special. Thus was born the reverse Achilles tortello with ragù in the filling: the pasta is exactly that of grandmother Giulia, with soft wheat flour, durum wheat semolina and eggs; the filling, on the other hand, is with minced Fassona Piedmontese meat, wheat, celery, carrots, onion, bread, peeled tomatoes, white wine, oil and salt. In short, all the ingredients of the classic Modena ragù that Achille prepared for his daughters and that is for them the scent of home. Its consumption is recommended in total purity, with a drizzle of butter or oil depending on the creeds; alternatively, Cristina prepared them with a cream of Parmesan cheese. But this tortello is so special that it is not sold to restaurants, but given only to loyal and private customers, or even simply interested ones.
In short, yet another demonstration of a family that from generation to generation continues to show great creativity, churning out continuous pastries. It is only to be hoped that they will never stop and that fresh pasta will always be.