Use Your Noodle

An Oakland-based source for small-batch dry pasta

These days, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting an artisanal food product. Jams, pickles and cheese have all gone small-batch. Now it's pasta's turn.

Oakland-based Baia Pasta is a collaboration between Renato Sardo, the former head of Slow Food International, and his partner in pasta, Dario Barbone, who both hail from Piedmont, Italy.

Using a Dominioni P55 extruder fitted with brass dies, they produce seven different short pasta cuts, ranging from casarecce (twisted, slightly tubular short noodles) to conchiglie rigate (seashells). The flour is ground from organic wheat grown near the Rocky Mountains, and the dies give the pasta a rough exterior. Sauce clings to the chewy, coarse noodles, becoming one–it's not pasta with sauce, it's pasta and sauce.

Still in start-up mode, the current pastas are made from durum wheat ($6 per pound), though Sardo and Barbone have also been developing spelt and emmer varieties, and some flavored and colored with organic spinach and beets ($8 per pound). Long noodles, like spaghetti and mafaldine (thin lasagna), are in the works.

Soon, we predict, Baia pasta's will join June Taylor marmalade and Andante cheese in artisanal ubiquity. For now, though, the only place to score a bag is at the New Taste Marketplace (the next one will be held on March 12) or the SF Underground Market (the next one is March 26).