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Manicaretti Italian Food Importers' Monique Llamas Discusses Award Winning Import Line

Manicaretti Italian Food Importers' Monique Llamas Discusses Award Winning Import Line

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

For nearly 30 years, Manicaretti Italian Food Importers has been expanding the availability of high-quality Italian foods in the U.S. From pastas and sauces, olive oils and vinegars, to anchovies, olives, honeys, and figs, the company has been importing fine specialty food fare that celebrates Italian culinary traditions. Recently the company earned an accolade for innovation. The importer’s partner Rustichella d’Abruzzo’s Pasta Integrale di Farro—Couscous picked up the 2017 sofi™ Gold Award—and earned honors for Best New Product—in the Pasta, Rice, Grain category.

Monique Llamas, Marketing Manager, Manicaretti Italian Food Importers

I had the opportunity to connect with Manicaretti’s Marketing Manager Monique Llamas to find out more about Rustichella, the company’s history, and its unique product offerings.

Q: Tell me a little about Rustichella? When and where did the company begin? When did they become involved with Manicaretti?

ML: In 1926, miller Gaetano Sergiacomo began making pasta in the hill-town of Penne. It was the foundation for what would later become Rustichella d’Abruzzo which began in 1981—started by Gaetano's daughter, Nicolina Sergiacomo Peduzzi. She started Rustichella by reviving the original whole wheat pasta that Gateano had made decades before.

The Peduzzi Family

Soon after, Nicolina’s adult children Gianluigi and Stefania Peduzzi joined the business and with their vision began expanding the variety of pasta shapes they made within their small-batch production in Abruzzo.

In the late 1980s Dean & Deluca became Rustichella’s first US customer. Manicaretti was starting to import Italian products around this time, and after trying Rustichella pasta Manicaretti Founder, Rolando Beramendi, fell in love with the products immediately. Gianluigi and Rolando began a business relationship to expand the Rustichella market within the United States—introducing pasta in the popular brown paper packaging that is still in use by Rustichella today.

The history between the two companies is one of shared growth. What started as a typical business relationship of buying and selling grew into a strong partnership as both companies expanded side by side. Overtime the companies have become more like a big loyal family—we celebrate each other’s successes and work side by side to promote true Italian products.

Q: What kinds of products does Rustichella d’Abruzzo make?

Rustichella d’Abruzzo makes one of the widest assortments of pasta shapes and varieties in the country, if not the widest assortment. They make typical long and short shapes with durum wheat flour, as well as lesser known regional shapes. They make dried egg pastas, whole wheat pasta, farro pasta, and an assortment of alternative grains. The assortment is extensive and growing as Rustichella applies innovation to their artisanal process—like they've done with the Farro Couscous.

Rustichella d’Abruzzo Farro Couscous

In addition to pasta Rustichella d’Abruzzo makes a small collection of accompanying products to be enjoyed along with their pasta like extra virgin olive oil and pasta sauce.

Q: Tell me a little about what it means for the company to be honored with a sofi Gold Award?

Rustichella and Manicaretti are both extremely proud of the sofi Gold Award and Best New Product Award in the Pasta Category. We see it as a sign that the judges—representing culinary professionals from around the country—understand what Rustichella is about: taste, texture, and craftsmanship.

A mural outside of the Rustichella d’Abruzzo pastificio

The Farro Couscous is truly special. Rustichella collaborates with a group of local farmers to cultivate a traditional variety of farro, known as farro vestino, grown in the Vestini hills of Abruzzo. It’s made with 100% stone ground whole farro and pure Apennine mountain spring water, and has high nutritional value, low gluten content, plus it’s easy to cook and adaptable to many recipes. Its nutty flavor and delightful texture enhances a range of dishes from meat ragu to seafood stew, or even eaten simply drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

In its signature brown paper packaging that calls out authentic artisan, Rustichella’s Pasta Integrale di Farro – Couscous is a handsome addition to any retail destination featuring olive oils, sauces, cured meats, breads, and other products appropriate for an Italian festa.

And while accolades speak volumes, Monique tells me that the most important way to learn about Rustichella is to try it. For more on this and other fine Italian products, interested parties can contact Manicaretti via email or through the company’s website.

Manicaretti Italian Food Importers