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Appetito Review: Flour + Water Pasta

Our Editor-in-Chief, Andrew Cotto, took a deep dive into an artisinal pasta from the famed San Francisco eatery, Flour + Water.

boxes of pasta

Flour + Water makes four types of dried pasta. Photo: Spencer Sarson

It's safe to say that I've consumed my weight in pasta many times over. My first real food was pastina. As a latchkey kid in grammar school, forbidden from using the stove when at home alone, I'd eat raw pasta out of the box as an after-school snack. As a teenager, when my peers were wolfing down Fluffernutter sandwiches, I'd wedge cooked noodles into hero roles and have spaghetti sandwiches. As an adult, well, my adoration of Italian food is well documented.

That said, I've never had a preferred pasta brand. My mother bought whatever dry pasta was on sale (and my grandmother made her own). I was, therefore, inured to the idea that all dry retail pastas were basically the same. This changed when I was recently encouraged to try the pasta products of Flour + Water, from the team behind the acclaimed San Francisco restaurant of the same name.

I sampled, using my own recipes of my own selection, distinct and specific preparations for all four varieties of Flour + Water's organic pasta:

My first impression in every instance was that this particular pasta had a flavor distinguishable from the sauce. My expectation of dry pasta had always been that as a vehicle for the sauce as opposed to an enhancement. In each shape, the Flour + Water pasta proved a partner to the sauce, adding a noticeable layer of flavor that actually improved each dish. Revelatory? Kind of...

The next thing I noticed was the texture. Flour + Water takes a lot of pride in how they use artisanal bronze dies to cut their pasta as opposed to low cost dies of Teflon. I'd honestly never paid attention to such matters, and had you asked me about this a month ago, I would have shrugged. Say bronze what? But it was apparent that the ridges, depending on the shape, clutched at the sauce, adhering it to the pasta. This, obviously, improves the experience as more sauce makes it into your mouth as opposed to being left on the plate (the pleasure of scarpetta aside). There's also a pleasant mouth-feel from pasta with, well, edge.

My only apprehension, and this probably dates back to my mother's practice of buying dried pasta on sale, is the cost. A four-pack can be purchased at the Flour + Water site for $23.96, which is $5.99 per 1 lb. box (don't tell my mother!). The price for the familiar brands is typically in the $1.99 range. There might be a sticker shock response here, but a pound of pasta goes a long way, so you're not dolling out a lot here per person. Plus, the old adage is proven right: You get what you pay for.

A small sidebar concern, which is actually testimony to the aforementioned quality of texture, is that the rough-ridged pasta really sticks to the bottom of the pot once added to the water, so vigorous and repeated stirring is necessary once you drop that pasta into the pot.

In the end, Appetito enthusiastically recommends using Flour + Water organic pasta for any of your recipes that meet their shapes. Personally, I'm tempted to even go back to my childhood days of eating raw pasta out of the box.

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