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Monday, April 23, 2012

Number 16: Baia Pasta's Durum Pastas

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 11:00 AM

click to enlarge Baia Pasta's durum spinners. - ANDREW NILSEN
  • Andrew Nilsen
  • Baia Pasta's durum spinners.

SFoodie's countdown of our favorite 50 things to eat and drink, 2012 edition

click to enlarge SFoodie_50_2012_logo_thumb_200x200.jpg

Fresh artisan pasta has been a staple of farmers markets and natural-foods stores since the 1980s, so you'd think the arrival of one more would be cause for, well, nothing. But Renato Sardo and Dario Barbone's Baia Pasta is producing dried pastas you're not likely to see outside Italy. Using North American wheat, spelt, and kamut, the two craft pastas in shapes like mohawks (aka creste di gallo), accordions (rocchetti) and spinners (conchiglioni).

The shapes have heft and texture. Their walls are a millimeter or two thick, and it's almost impossible to shatter one in your hands. They're rough to the touch when dry, and maintain enough of that quality to pick up sauce as eagerly as a paintbrush. The durum-wheat shapes, SFoodie's favorite, take almost 15 minutes of boiling to reach al dente, and it's a true al dente -- this pasta has a presence. It challenges you to think carefully about what you toss it with. Will the sauce be robust enough? Will it stand up to the pasta's earnest, wheaty flavor? It's special-occasion pasta, even if that occasion is the purchase of a decent bottle of barbera and spring's first purchase of green garlic from the market.

Baia Pasta: 431 Water St. (Jack London Square), Oakland, Also available at selected markets, including Bi-Rite, Fatted Calf, and the Pasta Shop in Oakland.

Other favorites in this series:

17: Z&Y's flaming fish with chile oil

18: Auntie April's fried catfish

19: None but the Brave from Heaven's Dog

20: Saha's vegan kibbeh

21: Starter Bakery's hazelnut kouign amann

22: Pupusas at Cafe and Restaurant Montecristo

23: 2 a.m. apple fritter at Bob's

24: Le Sanctuaire's vadouvan

25: Crab louis salad at Nettie's Crab Shack

26: Soy sauce chicken from Happy Bakery & Deli

27: Locanda's Jewish-style artichoke

28: Local: Mission Eatery's asparagus-egg sandwich

29: Memphis Minnie's 18-hour brisket

30: Custard buns from City View

31: Mission Chinese Food's kung pao pastrami

32: Panisse frites from Frances

33: Izakaya Yuzuki's chawanmushi

34: Fatted Calf's chorizo

35: Silvanas from House of Silvanas

36: Linden Street Brewery's black lager

37: Aged oolongs from Red Blossom Tea Company

38: Broken Record's crawfish grits

39: Cebiche mixto from La Mar 

40: Nutella-hazelnut hand pie from Black Jet Baking Co.
41: Fifth Floor's burger
42: Perbacco's agnolotti dal plin
43: Iced coffee from Sightglass
44: Cypress Grove's Purple Haze Chevre
45: Lechon from Tastebuds Cuisine
46: Duck with beets from AQ
47: Tai nigiri at ICHI Sushi
48: Fish with explosive chiles from Spices! 
49: Baker & Banker Bakery's blueberry cream cheese muffin
50: Kufta tajine from Cafe Zitouna

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Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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