Rosetta Ristorante – La Sfoglina, Annapaola D’Alessio
My name is Annapaola D’Alessio, I am 33 years old and I moved to Melbourne two years ago with my husband and children. I was born in Rome and I grew up in Soriano nel Cimino, a small medieval village with a beautiful castel where the tradition of homemade pasta is still alive.
What was the process in becoming a la sfoglina?
My profession as a la sfoglina started in my childhood. I can still remember the first fettuccine I handmade with my grandmother when I was just five years old.
I grew up with this tradition, watching my grandmother and my mum make pasta every single day, especially on Sunday when fresh pasta was synonymous with celebration, family and love. My grandmother and my mum fuelled this passion, by teaching me all the secrets of how make pasta.
The real profession started when I was 20 years old and I decided to open my own business.
My dad helped me to open a small and lovely fresh pasta shop called Fantasia a tavola.
For many years I studied at university (Cultural Heritage) and at the same time I was following my passion for art because for me making pasta is an artform.
I used to make the ‘casket’ (ravioli agnolotti e saccottini) and ‘gold wires’ (fettuccine, tagliolini, etc). I was a supplier of many restaurants making different kinds of handmade pasta. I loved to use only local and seasonal produce, such as porcini mushrooms, chestnuts, truffles and meat from our village.
During the weekend I used to make cannelloni e lasagne ready to be baked. The quality, authenticity and tradition of my pasta were appreciated by Roman costumers because they knew this kind of profession was going to be lost, especially in big cities like Rome.
When I became pregnant I decided to leave everything – university and my shop – while continuing to experiment making handmade pasta with my mum.
Meanwhile, my husband and I decided to leave Italy because of the poor economy. The economic crisis was starting to take away everything, including dreams, so we moved to Australia leaving everything and everyone.
How did you come to join Rosetta?
When we arrived in Melbourne I was introduced to Rosetta’s head chef Angel Fernandez and Senior Sous Chef Davide Galbiati. I started working at Rosetta in February 2017. I am really thankful to all staff at Rosetta, especially Angel and Davide, who trusted me and gave me the opportunity to grow professionally in one Melbourne’s best Italian restaurant owned by Rockpool Dining Group.
What is a typical day? What kind of pasta are you making?
My typical day starts around 6:30am when I check which kind of pasta needs to be made that day. Then I start to make my dough. For me, one of the most important things is to let the dough rest for at least 20 minutes so I can get a more compact and amalgamated dough, without losing too much elasticity. When I am not too busy with production, I love making new shapes and new kinds of dough.
I make 13 kinds of pasta: tagliolini, tagliatelle, bavette squid ink, pappardelle, agnolotti del plin, gnocchi di patate, orecchiette, strozzapreti, gnocco fritto. Recently I’ve had a ‘helper’, a La Monferrina P6 professional pasta making machine, which is made in Italy and extrudes the perfect spaghetti, bucatini, macaroni and rigatoni.
Are la sfoglinas quite rare in Australia?
Yes, it is rare to find la sfoglina in Australia, especially a young one, because the tradition of handmade pasta is almost lost, even in Italy. Furthermore, la sfoglina is a very hard job that requires physical strength, precision, organisation, mental concentration, experience, patience and passion.
Do you think mass-produced pasta can compare to pasta that is handmade?
Absolutely not. Mass produced pasta is totally different to handmade pasta: it does not smell, it does not taste, it does not have porosity to absorb the sauce. Handmade pasta has no preservatives, it is more nourishing and healthier than mass produced pasta. Also when I make pasta I include my secret ingredient: love.
Do you find Australians are fans of Italian food?
Australians are probably the biggest fans of Italian food in the world. They love Italy and Italian people. I am also trying to take my passion to the next level by sharing this tradition with other people through my Instagram profile: annapaolapastamaker. Check it out!
Thanks for the opportunity to share my tradition!