Where to Buy Fresh Pasta in Los Angeles? Ralphs vs Trader Joes
Looking for fresh pasta in Los Angeles? We tested four supermarket brands with an Italian expert
When it comes to quick, easy, and satisfying dinner options, fresh pasta is hard to beat. Especially filled pasta, such as ravioli or tortellini. When you are at the supermarket after a long day, you may just grab some ravioli, go home, boil them, and call it a night.
Of course, homemade pasta is fantastic and you should try making it yourself. You can (and should) also eat it from a restaurant. Cento and Knead & Co. are just two of the most recent additions to the Los Angeles pasta scene.
But when you are at the store on a random Tuesday night, which brand of fresh pasta in Los Angeles should you buy?
We tested four types of filled fresh pasta from two popular supermarket chains in Los Angeles: Ralphs and Trader Joe’s. We were assisted by Ilaria De Fidio, a pasta-making expert from Bologna, the capital of Italian fresh pasta. In Bologna, Ilaria teaches the traditional (and increasingly forgotten) art of making tagliatelle, tortellini, and ravioli.
In order to have a meaningful comparison, we focused on a similar product, mushroom-filled ravioli (one brand calls them “agnolotti”, but they are very similar). Two brands can be found at Ralphs, the other two at Trader Joe’s. We cooked them simultaneously and tossed them with a simple butter and sage sauce.
The fresh pasta Los Angeles contest: Ralphs or Trader Joe’s?
- From Trader Joe’s: Trader Giotto’s Porcini Mushroom and Truffle Triangoli ($3.49) These had the thinnest dough in the test. The dough itself is pretty unremarkable. However, the filling is very tasty, definitely because of the truffle. The porcini mushrooms, both dried and fresh, are a particularly flavorful (and expensive) ingredient. These are the only “Product of Italy” in the test.
- From Ralphs: Buitoni Mushroom Agnolotti ($3.99). The filling is pretty straightforward: a generous filling of portobello and crimini mushrooms, plus imported Parmigiano and Grana Padano—two types of cheese with a similar profile. Overall, we found them to be well-balanced and more corresponding to the Italian palate.
- From Ralphs: Three Bridges Wild Mushroom Ravioli ($4.99). We appreciated the quality and taste of the dough. However, because of the dough/filling ratio, you end up tasting the dough more than the mushroom filling. The filling contains a rather long list of cheeses (mozzarella, swiss, cream cheese, and parmesan), but it sort of gets lost.
- Trader Joe’s Portobella Mushroom Ravioli ($3.49). These are filled with various types of cheese (provolone, mozzarella, heavy cream), vegetables (celery, onions, carrots), and even things like bamboo fiber and chicory root fiber. We found the flavor unnecessarily complex, with unpleasant notes of vinegar and garlic.
Generally speaking, because this is industrial pasta, the texture is invariably smooth, sometimes chewy. Also, the list of ingredients is much longer than homemade pasta. Some ingredients look like they don’t belong here (pea protein isolate? soy sauce powder?).
But if you’re looking for a quick dinner option, the Trader Joe’s Porcini Mushroom and Truffle Triangoli are a good deal. Ralphs Mushroom Agnolotti are only slightly more expensive, more delicate, and definitely recommended if you are not a big truffle fan. As always, buon appetito!
We bought the four pastas on the same day in two Ralphs and Trader Joe’s locations in Los Angeles. This review is unsponsored and unsolicited.