I noticed something while shopping for pasta: some are significantly more expensive than the others! I attributed this to the quality of the product, but it turns out to be so much more than that. I decided to sit down with Joe Talluto of Talluto’s Authentic Italian Foods to hear what he had to say. If anyone was able to clarify, he was the man for the job!
First, a bit about the history. Tortellini was founded in Northern Italy (Bologna). There are a few versions of how this pasta shape came-to-be; most of which involve navels (gasp!); you can read more about here. Tortellini are small, intricate, folded, and pinched pastas filled with a variety of ingredients such as meat, cheese, and/or herbs. Because there is only a very small amount of space for filling, the ingredients MUST shine! Americans generally eat tortellin in pasta salad, or with heavy tomato-based or cream sauces. This is a stark contrast to how they’re served in Italy: "in brodo" (broth). That’s right, broth! Talluto’s mirrors the Italian tradition, and fills the pasta with the best-of-the-best ingredients, allowing them to stand center-stage in beef or chicken stock.
Unbeknownst to me, most manufacturers buy from other tortellini suppliers. Talluto’s makes all of their products in-house (see my previous post about ravioli) to maintain the integrity of the product. Locally, there is only one major supplier that pumps out tortellini to various companies. This means that the packaging may be different, but the inside product is exactly the same. Makes you feel kind of cheated when you think about…
Talluto’s tortellini is $9.99/lb whereas competitors are priced around $3.49-3.99/lb. That’s a big difference! But why? For starters, the competitor's products are pre-cooked (which means you are also paying for water) and offer about 96-100 pieces per pound. Talluto’s are flash-frozen immediately after manufacturing and boasts 140 pieces per pound. The thickness of the dough is also a big factor. More dough= less filling. Talluto’s uses a thin dough, made with durum flour, semolina, eggs and no preservatives (<-- important!). They also use the best cheese: Asiago, ricotta, and Parmesan. Most other brands use processed cheese as well as modified food starches or whey (read the ingredients!).
What it all comes down to is the QUALITY of the ingredients. Cheaper is NOT always better! Talluto’s has prided itself on commitment to their products, and perfecting their craft for nearly half a century. They use the best ingredients, produce everything in-house to monitor EXACTLY what is going into their product, and they use no fillers to bulk up the foods to make it appear as something it’s not.
I decided to put Talluto’s tortellini to the test and prepared a batch just as it’s intended to be. I grabbed a can of Cento Chicken Broth (my personal favorite) and heated in a pan until piping hot.
While this was cooking, I brought a large stock pot of water to a boil. I added the frozen tortellini and cooked until they floated to the top (about 4 minutes).
I served the tortellini with Locatelli cheese (my favorite), and let me tell you… it was beyond words. This was my first time ever eating tortellini in broth like this, and I’m not sure I’ll ever go back! It actually reminded me of a very old-school Italian dish, scrippelle’s. The combo of flavors was out of this world.
I still have a bunch of other Talluto’s options to choose from, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to top how much I loved the traditional Asiago tortellini!!!!
Talluto’s tortellini are sold frozen in-store in the following varieties: Asiago Tomato/Spinach/Egg, Half-moon Mushroom Casoncello (made with Kennett Square mushrooms) Basil Pesto Agnolotti Meat Tortelloni (larger tortellini filled with pork and beef). Now do you see my dilemma?!
Aristotle once said, "Quality is not an act, it is a habit." I think all of Talluto's products speak for themselves when it comes to consistency and quality.