Flour Power

I Trulli's handmade pastas are a family affair

Most restaurants that offer house-made pasta want you to think it's crafted by a real Italian grandmother, even when the reality is more often a scruffy 20-something who's never been to Italy.

Unless, of course, you're dining at I Trulli.

There, the high priestess of the pasta station is Dora Marzovilla, the 74-year-old mother of owner Nicola Marzovilla.

Since I Trulli's opening almost 16 years ago, the elder Marzovilla has been rolling out snakes of dough, breaking off nubs and deftly fashioning them into a variety of precise shapes. Her delicate ear-shaped orecchiette make perfect vessels for a rich rabbit rag├╣, and pillows of ravioli encase creamy Robiola cheese.

Marzovilla actually came to the profession later in life. When she and her late husband moved their family from Puglia to New York in 1970, she first worked in a clothing factory, never dreaming she'd eventually have a culinary career.

That hasn't kept the tight-knit New York pasta community from embracing Marzovilla's talent. "Chefs will brag that their pasta maker trained under Dora," says I Trulli's chef, Patti Jackson.

Here's hoping she trains every restaurant in town.

I Trulli, 122 E. 27th St. (between Lexington and Park aves.); 212-481-7372 or itrulli.com