Hanging fresh, bronze-cut pasta on drying rods in the hot sun probably wouldn’t work in the streets of Montauk as well as it does in Gragnano, Italy.
“It’s too humid out east for the pasta to dry correctly,” says Dino Borri, global VP of brand partnerships for Eataly, New York’s premier destination for high-quality Italian food. With Manhattan locations in the Flatiron and Wall Street neighborhoods, the Mediterranean Diet mecca is known for its unique, Italian pantry goods and “things you can’t find in the Hamptons,” Borri offers.
One such item is Pastaio di Gragnano, an imported, artisanal spaghetti from Gragnano in the region of Campania, Italy. For over 500 years, this “small town very close to Naples,” says Borri, has produced the world’s best-dried pasta, made with durum wheat and calcium pure water from Monti Lattori.
“Gragnano’s where traditional makers hang the pasta outside in the sun to dry with the sea air, all taking place in this legally defined area on an extra wide street,” similar to hanging laundry, explains Borri. Before this drying step, the pasta dough must go through a bronze mold to be considered authentic, resulting in a rough textured pasta that absorbs the flavor of a sauce.
Back here on the South Fork, a seasonal sauce can be anything from a simple, fresh basil pesto to raw farmstand tomatoes. A summer crowd-pleaser? The white wine, garlic and peperoncino sauce in the iconic Neapolitan spaghetti alle vongole, made with local, briny littleneck clams, the smaller the better.
“In Italy, our clams off the Amalfi coast are very piccolo, and when I moved to New York 13 years ago, my first experience was going to Montauk and noticing how big the clams were — they didn’t match well with this recipe,” recalls Borri. “It’s best to select the small ones and tell your local fishmonger what you are making.”
Going for magnifico when preparing? Then a high-quality dry pasta is key. Fortunately, Eataly now delivers to the Hamptons and Montauk via Mercato, so Pastaio di Gragnano can be delivered straight to your door, (deliveries can be scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday with next-day or future-date options as well), along with imported balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, meats, salumi and cheese.
Even with their new west-to-east delivery option, Borri, who feels “the service is not just good for Eataly, but for our customers who live out east,” is a stickler for augmenting Eataly’s imports by sourcing locally as much as possible.
“I think it’s good to use an Italian staple ingredient with a local ingredient,” he says — even Eataly gets most of its fresh fish from Montauk — “and it’s nice to ride your bicycle in the Hamptons and get fresh parsley from the farmstand.”
The white wine used in the recipe? Let’s keep that local, too, and go with the rule that one should cook with wine you are willing to drink. There’s a lovely, almost creamy, Meyer lemon and white peach quality to Roanoke Vineyard’s 2022 Sauvignon Blanc that goes so well with this dish.
Serving this al-fresco will help create the Amalfi vibe. Add a bowl of lemons to your tablescape and zest one over your guests’ clams for a final touch that’s molto buono. “People always want to have this dish,” implores Borri, “It’s very summery.”
Eataly’s spaghetti alle vongole with local littlenecks
- 2 lbs littleneck clams (may substitute Manila clams or cockles)
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp fresh oregano,
- 1/2 tsp peperoncino
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 8 oz dried spaghetti
- 1/4 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, washed and chopped
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste