This time we kept to the point of first courses and, after Zaccaria’s rice, we went in for pasta going to the province of Macerata in order to discover who stands behind the great brand “La Pasta di Aldo”.
After a few bends and some tiny uphill – or downhill, it depends from the point of view – street taken by mistake, we arrived in front of a small building with a sign written in italic that unequivocally told us we were in the right place.
The first thing we found out is that, behind Aldo’s pasta, there’s actually no Aldo – there are Luigi and Maria instead, husband and wife. So who’s Aldo? Nobody, it’s an acronym that comes from the union of the first two letters of their surnames. Good choice!
Luigi is a character with whom everybody should spend at least one day in a lifetime, he’s a powerhous of ideas, energy, words, initiative, charisma. You could listen to him for hours, and he could keep on telling you his adventures, his life and his philosophy without getting tired.
Maria is a woman with a sweet face, much more calm and quiet than her husband, but with a strong character. Luigi says that he’s projected into che future, while she’s focused on the present and she’s the best in solving problems as they appear.
Without lots of ceremonies, with the simplicity and the ouspokenness that mark both the person and his product, Luigi invites us to quickly enter the laboratory, because the daily production of pasta is almost ending.
There we find Maria, dealing with a machine that, from a roller of dough, constantly obtains and pulls out noodles of pasta that look like gold. She collects them with a steel stick, hooking them exactly at the half of their lenght, with a precision given by long years of work, then she places them on the trolley that stands in front of her.
At the end of the process, every trolley is loaded with 50 kilos of pasta – and every morning they produce around 4 trolleys. Maria is obviously not alone in this job, but another couple of people help her.
“Anyway, in a short time this task will be done by a robot!” – annouces Luigi, who not only produces his pasta, but also conceives the machines that he needs to make his work progress.
For exemple, he invented the machine that spreads the dough – on the market there wasn’t what he wanted, so he thought to work on it and he created it himself, keeping it for himself too.
The same thing happened for the dryer machine: the ones that he bought were good, but they weren’t perfect. He ideally went back to the old wooden dryers and he conceived a new one, putting together the ancient and the modern. In this case he patented it, and now it’s sold all around the world.
But how did Luigi and Maria get to this point?
You could think that they inherited the pasta factory from their families, but it’s not the case since their parents were all farmers.
Luigi, at the end of the junior high school, started an agricultural school with the disapproval of his father, who wanted for him a different future, maybe as an accountant. On the contrary, he was dreaming of producing Parmesan and exporting it in his region, Marche… but then reality won over fantasy, and Luigi started for real to work as an accountant, opening an office with his brother.
The passion for pasta, that his grandmother handed down to him since he was a boy, teaching him how to make it and revealing him her secrets, started knocking again when he met Maria. At that point, around 20 years ago, he abandoned his prosperous and successful job and he started experimenting.
Since he is a researcher inside, Luigi wasn’t for sure content with producing an ordinary pasta: used to ask himself “why” for everything, he naturally applied this question event to the new world he had decided to explore. At the end of every experiment, he analyzed the result and he asked himself why it didn’t reach the desired perfection.
This improvement work has been and it’s also now nonstop, and in about ten years brought him to obtain results satisfying enough to start a more structured business in the current laboratory.
As you can see, nothing happens by chance in Monte San Giusto’s pasta factory. The pasta which is made there is the result of a painstaking work, more similar to the artistic ritual of a genius than to the simple labour of an artisan.
The secrets that stand behind the extraordinary result of this product are only seemingly simple: first of all the choice of first quality ingredients – all the flours are selected by Luigi, who only addresses trustworthy mills, which often prepare some kinds of semolina expressly for him; then the mix of flours and semolina, that is only known by the two spouses and changes based on the product, and that is what gives to pasta the right porosity; in the end the drying, slow (it lasts from 7/8 hours to a whole night) and at low temperatures. And you need to know that, only to learn how to dry their pasta in the best way, Luigi and Maria spent two years trying!
Also the employees’ labour is important, and not always replaceable with machinery: when it’s time to pick pasta up after its drying – before the packaging – the skilled human eye is the only guarantor in the selection.
If pasta is not perfect, it’s discarded in order not to alter the quality of the product that leaves the laboratory. Some days, whole trolleys of pasta are thrown away, maybe because the drying didn’t come out as it should have. What if the boxes fall down and the noodles of pasta crack? They’re given to relatives and friends as a present, for sure they’re not sold.
Talking about the boxes, not even those are accidental: the cardboard is the one used even for pizza boxes, not plastic-coated. Another paperboard is fitted inside in order to “fill the space” and avoid that pasta moves leaving half of the packaging unaestethically empty.
The lids are simple but elegant, and very versatile thanks to the label, that is stuck in the end and of which there are different version depending on the need – every market requires different pieces of information on the label and Luigi, instead of making only one of them full of facts in many languages, preferred to differentiate them.
La Pasta di Aldo is in fact sold around the world even more than in Italy. Luigi selects not only the ingredients but also his clients: he only wants the best ones, he’s not interested in far-reaching distribution but he wants it to be a quality one. This is how his pasta takes flight for exemple towards Saudi Arabia, or England, where even Queen Elizabeth tastes it, or towards very selected Italian shops like our “La Delizia”.
At this time, this brand is a guarantee of absolute quality: Luigi and Maria’s pasta is multi-awarded by all the greatest specialists of the field as the best dry egg pasta in Italy. If you want to give a look to the press review that you find on their website, you can get an idea…
And if all this is not enough for you, we can guarantee even personally: it’s a fantastic pasta, compact, full-bodied, porous, that perfectly stays al dente, with a strong but not intrusive flavour, light and digestible. There are a lot of available formats, and they go from the classic egg pasta from Marche like Maccheroncini, to the one that is typical of other regions like Pappardelle, from the truffle or saffron-flavored pasta to the ones made with buckwheat and spelt. There’s really something to suit everybody’s fancy, and every format is excellent.
Getting to know “Aldo” has been a discovery and an injection of overwhelming enthusiasm: in one’s life there’s always room to improve oneself and, if you strongly pursue a dream working hard to make it happen, you can obtain results that go beyond any expectation. La Pasta di Aldo is a proof of this, and every one of you is invited to experience it at first hand – but above all to taste it… stop by Paola’s shop in Russi (Ravenna) and you’ll understand!