In the wonderful world of pasta, there is the fresh (usually made with eggs and rolled-out), and there is the dried (usually eggless and extruded). And then there is the unusual hybrid of sorts that Marco Canora has recently introduced on his Insieme menu. While surfing the Web, as all blog-obsessed chefs are wont to do, Canora discovered an old Venetian–style hand-cranked pasta extruder known as the Bigolaro, a.k.a. the Torchio, and if he had his doubts about its decidedly low-tech looks, the price, at $280, was right. The rustic gadget, which was patented in 1875, clamps on to any sturdy tabletop, and although it requires the strength of two Greco–Roman wrestlers to operate, the results are worth the effort.
In fact, it wouldn’t be going too far to say that the Torchio, still in its experimental stage at Insieme, is making some of the best pasta in town right now — firm and springy with a nice bite and a rough texture that soaks up sauce like a hyperactive sponge. Canora is making three classic Torchio pasta shapes (but without eggs): bigoli (thick spaghetti) served all’Amatriciana; a long, thin rigatoni-like noodle, served here with a veal ragù; and a short, tubular shape called ditalini, which is the basis for a supremely tasty pasta e fagioli. Best of all, if you’re looking for a vigorous upper-body workout regimen for the New Year, you can buy your own Torchio online from pastabiz.com. —Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld