Today marks the tenth anniversary of Chelsea Market, a place we would avoid if there were anyplace else to get Setaro pasta. The supremacy of the Campagnan product, sold only in Buonitalia at the market, is something we never stop hearing about: last night, Kevin Garcia of Accademia del Vino told us, “All the top chefs I know use it — it’s the pasta of choice, the best I’ve ever been able to find.” Mark Ladner of Del Posto, Jonathan Benno at Per Se, and any number of other food luminaries swear by the stuff. But why? Buonitalia co-owner Antonio Magliulo says, “This company, Setaro, is very small. They don’t produce a lot of pasta. And when they dry it, it’s at low temperatures, so it keeps the flavor and texture. The way it cooks, the bite that it keeps — it’s something special.”
So why do the chefs like it? “You really taste the grain in it. And it’s really porous, so it gets the sauce. Sometimes you see dried pasta that’s so shiny, and the sauce won’t stick to it. That never happens with Setaro,” says Odette Fada of San Domenico. Michael White of Alto and L’Impero loves Setaro’s variety of weird shapes: “It’s fabulous, and there are so many kinds of it. The paccheri, which is a kind of big, smooth rigatoni, is really hot right now, especially in Italy, but I especially like the candele, a long hollow pasta you have to break up by hand.” Of course, if you want any Setaro, you’ll have to schlep to Chelsea Market, and Ronzoni is two for one at our neighborhood C-Town…but the next time we’re at Buonnitalia we’re definitely stocking up on the stuff.