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Pizzoccheri Valtellinesi Among the 25 “Most Essential Pasta Dishes” of the New York Times

A casual stop at La Fiorida and the discovery of the dish captivated the journalist, projecting the symbolic dish of Valtellinese gastronomy onto the special list of the American newspaper – the connection to the territory, local products, and seasons being the strong point of this recognition.

The Pizzoccheri enchanted a New York Times contributor at first taste, and the echo of this ‘love at first bite’ resonated from La Fiorida across the ocean, propelling the iconic Valtellinese dish into the list of 25 essential Italian pasta dishes compiled by the influential American newspaper. [www.nytimes.com/2024/05/17/t-magazine/best-pasta-italy]

In the “T25” section of the NYT online edition, which summarizes the most significant expressions of design, literature, fashion, and architecture, the theme this May focused on food. The pool of authors, assisted by four food and restaurant experts working between Italy and the States, each provided 10 suggestions, from which they synthesized a list of 25 ‘must-try’ pasta dishes from various restaurants that make their tasting unique.

The result is a broad overview of Italy and its culinary art, where the panel’s decisions were guided by diverse criteria. In some cases, they included a dish for its sauce (e.g., Carbonara), for the type of pasta (like Umbrian Strangozzi), or for its ‘rarity’ like the Pizzoccheri (specifically mentioned “for the strong connection to their place of origin, beyond which they are rarely found”).

In this list of 25 “most essential pasta dishes,” Lombardy is well represented with four dishes/restaurants cited, listed alphabetically between the 9th and 17th places (with Pizzoccheri and La Fiorida at 12th), alongside great classics (such as Rome’s Cacio e Pepe in third and Carbonara in fourth) or renowned chefs (with Massimo Bottura’s ‘Crunchy Part of the Lasagna’).

A casual lunch stop at La Fiorida last February introduced the Pizzoccheri to what appeared to be a tourist traveling between Lake Como and Valtellina. At the end of the meal, the visitor revealed himself to be a journalist who wanted to know more about the dish he had just tasted with great amazement, talking with chef Gianni Tarabini.

The guest was enthusiastic and curious: he led me to describe the process we use to make our Pizzoccheri, starting with stone-ground flour, hand-scraped and flavored with herbs, Valtellina Casera DOP Reserve aged over 300 days, and butter, both from the milk of Pure Bruna cows raised at La Fiorida, as well as the vegetables, seasonal and from our garden. Even the buckwheat flour, a distinctive ingredient of the dish, is produced by a young Valtellinese farmer committed to maintaining the cultivation of buckwheat in Teglio and Piateda,” recalls chef Tarabini.

This coincidence truly highlights what we mean when we say that cuisine is the first ambassador of a territory. Our story fascinated the journalist, as at the table he tasted a dish that speaks of La Fiorida’s short and sustainable supply chain, of farmers who passionately preserve tradition and territory, and of a cuisine that follows seasonality. Yes, the Pizzocchero Academy has codified the recipe with cabbage, but following the rhythm of the garden (and the customs of our grandparents), the addition of spinach or chard offers just as much flavor and a touch of nostalgia.”

A story that left a mark, faithfully reflected in the special gastronomic selection by the experts who contributed to compiling it, among whose lines one can read all the emotion of this discovery.

Mantello (SO), May 28, 2024

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