While Marco Polo is credited with having discovered pasta while travelling the Silk Road, it was the Italians who applied their passion to pasta, perfecting the dish.
Raffaele Di Benedetto is the Gold Coast’s ‘Master of Pasta’ working from his craftsman’s studio, Pastificio Fellini, a shopfront full of machines and implements, barrels and cartons.
It’s that same passion which has brought Ristorante Fellini critical acclaim since its opening, most recently the official Ospitalita Italiana seal from Italy’s Chamber of Commerce (for preserving the history, culture, quality and authenticity of the Italian cuisine), the coveted certification of the Eccellezene Italiane.
While the restaurant’s success is a team effort, Fellini’s humble Master of Pasta’s skills have helped to create some of the Gold Coast’s most memoable pasta dishes. Having grown up in a small village near Naples, Raffaele tells us that pasta making, a craft he learned at age 16, is his passion:
“Over 20 years ago, when we opened Ristorante Fellini, I was making pasta in the Fellini kitchen by hand with a small machine, but we could not keep up with the demand. As well as that, more and more people wanted pasta to take home.
So, we opened Pastificio Fellini next door in 2002. We imported the machines from Italy and make fifteen different sorts of pasta (as varied as ravioli and tortellini with duck and crabmeat stuffing, spaghetti, fettuccini, hand-rolled gnocchi, squid ink conchiglie and saffron linguette), as well as sauces, which we sell wholesale to outlets and other restaurants, and retail through Fellini.
We use only the best durum wheat flour to keep the pasta really light, no eggs, and a much longer drying process than commercial pasta; 13 or 14 hours rather than 5 or 6 hours! Then we hand test and hand package the pasta, and it’s ready to sell. Fresh pasta has 30% water content – far more than dried pasta – so it can’t be cooked al dente. Dried pasta is far easier to cook, far more forgiving. Even when you overcook our pasta by a minute or a minute and a half it’s still a bit crunchy! If you overcook commercial pasta it’s very bad for your digestion.
Today, people have less time, so they want to cook something easy. That’s where we come in! You can take a packet of pasta and cook it for a few minutes. Use plenty of water for the pasta to swirl around in. Don’t overcook it. Leave it a bit crunchy. Top it with our Napoletana sauce, a little grated parmesan and some fresh basil, and you have dinner for two for $10! Have a glass of nice pinot with it and it’s perfect! Buon Appetito!”
Fellini, Level 1, Marina Mirage, 74 SeaWorld Drive, Main Beach Ph: 07 5531 0300
NOTE: This article was published in The Sun on 7 May, 2019.