Leah Ferrazzani of Semolina Artisanal Pasta makes pasta the good, old-fashioned way

We met Leah Ferrazzani, the founder of Semolina Artisanal Pasta. Adopting the traditional techniques that she learned from Italian pasta makers, she uses high-quality ingredients to produce five types of pasta in Downtown Los Angeles.

Leah’s experience with Italian food dates back to when she was the restaurant manager at Pizzeria Mozza, in Los Angeles. She then worked as a food and wine writer, under the name of Leah Greenstein.

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At some point, she realized that a lot of imported pasta is actually made with US-grown wheat. Italian industrial pasta makers use it to make their pasta, which then is sold in the US market.

“I thought it would be great to make high-quality pasta here in the US,” she says. “So I bought myself a pasta extruder and set about to learn the art of making and drying pasta.”

The adventure of Semolina Artisanal Pasta

Of course, Italians have been making pasta for centuries. So, in order to do everything right, she took a few research trips to Italy. In Gragnano, near Naples, she learnt the techniques and the tricks of the trade from some of the oldest pastamakers in the country.

Like Italian producers, Leah uses only semolina flour, which is milled from durum wheat grown in North Dakota and Montana. Semolina, or “farina di grano duro” in Italian, is coarser and has a heavier texture than durum flour. It is also more expensive and harder to find. That’s why most US commercial producers use a combination of durum and semolina.

Package of pasta from Semolina Artisanal Pasta

Credit: Raffaele Asquer

The bronze pasta dies give her pasta a rough texture, which helps sauces cling. “No more sad, little puddles on the bottom of your bowl,” she guarantees. Also the slow drying process, preserving the flavour and integrity of the wheat, sets Semolina pasta apart from industrial pasta brands.

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The rest is experience, patience, and a lot of work. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, she moved production from her home to a facility in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood. “The conditions here were completely different,” she says. “The air humidity and temperature make a big difference. There are only a few ingredients, but you have to keep experimenting to find the right proportions.”

So how is the final product? Find Semolina Artisanal Pasta in a store near you, or buy it online, and judge by yourself.