Giovanni Rana used to make pasta the old fashioned way: He'd roll it by hand and deliver it himself from the back of a motor scooter.
These days, Rana can afford a fleet of Vespas: What began in the 1950s as a small operation producing tortelloni in a village outside of Verona is now the largest fresh pasta company in Europe. Recently he's expanded into retail locations in the United States, including a shop and restaurant in New York City's Chelsea Market.
As business took off, his company invented a machine that turns out extremely thin pasta ribbons. At less than a millimeter, they're said to be the thinnest fresh noodle in the world. They've also gone the other way, making a thicker noodle that's engineered to hold on to as much meaty Sunday ragu as possible.
Rana stopped by TT HQ to demonstrate how a proper tortelloni is made. At 75, he's not afraid to roll up his sleeves and break out the rolling pin. (Though, ever the Italian gentleman, he did worry that taking off his sport coat might offend the ladies present).
He walked us through making his classic fresh tortelloni with spinach and ricotta (see the recipe). Rana made the dough OG (Old Grandmother) style, rolling it out by hand and shaping the pasta effortlessly--as someone with decades of experience would. He then dressed the finished tortelloni with nothing other than olive oil and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. And put his jacket back on. Perfection.
"You get the magic of the noodle in the first bite," Rana says. "Then you taste of the filling. Stuffed pasta is like a treasure."