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How This Company Makes the Best Gluten-Free Pasta in Italy

24 April 2023
by Giadzy

How This Company Makes the Best Gluten-Free Pasta in Italy

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Historically, the north of Italy specializes in alternate grains than the rest of Italy - so there's no surprise that a northern company created some of the best gluten-free pasta out there.

The northern region of Trentino-Alto Adige is an outlier in Italy. In addition to sharing a border with Switzerland and Austria, it shares a unique cultural flavor with them, too—German is a co-official language, and there are picturesque alpine villages where you can ski up to a lodge for fondue and cured meat alongside classically Italian lakeside towns.

It’s only fitting that this unusual area would be home to an outlier in Italian cuisine, too: Massimo Zero, makers of the country’s best gluten-free pasta. While there are hundreds of artisans scattered across Italy making perfect pastas, only a few can say they make a truly delicious gluten-free product that meets the same time-honored standards as their wheat-based peers. Since 2011, Massimo Zero has been at the top of that list.

So much gluten-free pasta cooks up mushy, disintegrates in the pot, or leaves a tinny aftertaste that belies its nonstandard status. But Massimo Zero’s pasta looks and feels identical to the wheat pastas we love, down to the just-right starchy cooking water that can be used to thicken and integrate the finished dish. How are they so good at this notoriously tricky task? Location matters.

Historically, the north of Italy has relied more on the cultivation of rice and corn than wheat—it’s why risotto and polenta are beloved dishes in Milan and Venice. While semolina wheat grows best on the hot plains of central and southern Italy, rice prefers the cooler temperatures and marshy lowlands of the Po Valley, which stretches across the north from Torino to Modena. And corn was first introduced to Italy from the Americas in the trade center of Venice in the 16th century, quickly becoming a staple crop in the surrounding area.

All that history means Massimo Zero understands the ins and outs of corn and rice, whose flours are the central ingredients in their gluten-free pasta. Thanks to careful study in their state-of-the-art facility in Merano, they select the right varieties of each grain to provide the perfect balance of elasticity, suppleness, and durability in their pasta dough. A good dough can be properly rolled, shaped, and cut, formed into dozens of traditional shapes from simple spaghetti to homespun caserecce. The finished pieces are air-dried at low temperatures, which protects the pasta’s integrity when it’s boiled.

The other ingredient in Massimo Zero’s pasta is, simply, water. But even this basic element is unique to their home; Merano was once a fashionable spa town prized for its clean waters that were said to cure everything from constipation to high blood pressure. Those same pristine rivers and springs that flow from Alpine peaks are tapped to provide hydration for Massimo Zero’s pasta dough, unlocking the final key to their pasta mastery.

But don’t just take our word for it! Shop our selection of Massimo Zero pasta today to try it for yourself.


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