I recently had the opportunity to try a complementary serving of Buitoni’s whole wheat 4-cheese ravioli. The unmistakable whole grain semolina pasta pillows jousted flavorfully with fresh creamy ricotta, mozzarella, aged Parmesan, and Romano cheeses paired with my favorite pasta sauce. Purists may wrinkle their noses at the concept of commercially-made ravioli but my taste buds told me a different story.
Perhaps you have the idea that Buitoni’s pre-made pasta dishes, available in supermarket aisles across the globe, are a product of survey groups, high-powered PR puffery, and a mega profitable food conglomerate. There’s no question that the Buitoni line relies on these trappings of the modern-day food industry but it’s origins and taste are rooted in the hills of Tuscany which live on today at Casa Buitoni.
Among verdant fields bursting with fresh produce like wheat, tomatoes, olives and herbs in Sansepolcro, Italy, Casa Buitoni still stands much as it did when Giuseppe Buitoni built it well over 100 years ago. After the Buitoni family called it home for generations, Nestle took it over in 1989
completely restoring its neoclassical splendor. It now serves as a renowned product development center with working test kitchens, a demonstration workshop, and communications center. It’s here that new products are created and company chefs meet to explore new flavors and taste combinations.
One such chef is Rosario Del Nero, head of Buitoni’s U.S. culinary center. Following his lifetime passion for artisan pasta, Rosario joined Buitoni as Director of Research and Development and Corporate Chef in 2006. Even though he is based in the US, he spends a good portion of time at Casa Buitoni and travels around Italy for inspiration to bring United States customers true Italian culinary masterpieces.
Last month a grand prize winner from Oregon was selected for Buitoni’s Discover Our Italian Masterpieces contest. The lucky winner gets a week’s vacation for two in Tuscany including a 2-day trip to Casa Buitoni. Here they will have a chance to walk the hallways and explore the rooms of this magnificent 19th century villa. Not only will they learn about the 180 years of tradition infused in Buitoni dishes but also get a hand-on tour of this continually evolving state-of-the-art center dedicated to fine Mediterranean cuisine.
photos courtesy of Steve Mirsky and Nestle