All the tips and tools you’ll need to make St. Louis’ signature toasted ravs at home.
THE ORIGINS OF ST. LOUIS’ signature Italian dish take us back to the 1940s to a restaurant called Angelo Oldani’s on The Hill. Like many ingenious inceptions, the toasted squares were actually created by accident when a confused assistant chef saw a pot of boiling oil on the stove and assumed the pasta should be dumped in—the rest is delicious history. Although there’s no shortage of great restaurants to hit up for the local favorite, it’s also a tradition you can dig into from the comfort of your own kitchen. To avoid any accidents of your own, we tapped local expert Diane Urzi from Urzi’s Italian Market for the top gadgets, tips and tricks to hone your Italian cooking skills.
DOUGH IT YOURSELF The stuffing is only as good as the pasta surrounding it, so homemade dough is a must. Urzi suggests using semolina flour for that authentic Italian taste. Dealing with dough can be messy, but flattening it with the Marcato Atlas Pasta Machine (1) can help you keep your sanity. Available at Cornucopia, Kirkwood, 314.822.2440.
ROLL OUT Often served as an appetizer at parties, toasted ravioli are usually accompanied by a dipping sauce like marinara. Urzi’s top sauce picks are Taste of the Hill Pasta Sauce and Fazio’s Sweet Sicilian. When planning your party, use a ravioli pin (2) for mass production. Available at Kitchen Conservatory, Clayton, 314.862.2665.
PERFECTLY PRESSED For Urzi, the 12-piece ravioli press (3) is a must to create that just-right ravioli shape. She also leaves the finished squares on paper towels to soak up some of the excess grease. Available at Kitchen Conservatory, Clayton, 314.862.2665.
STAMP OF APPROVAL Ravioli derives from the Italian word, “to stuff,” and there are no set rules as to what filling or how much yours can have. Urzi says it depends on the mood you’re in, but one ingredient that never disappoints is spinach. If your pasta is in danger of overload, use a round or square ravioli stamp (4) to seal the deal. Available at Kitchen Conservatory, Clayton, 314.862.2665.
THE PERFECT FINISH Many people from out of town come into Urzi’s store asking about St. Louis’ toasted tradition, and when you are representing a city favorite, appearance is everything. Be sure to use a pastry wheel (5) to create that perfectly finished edge. Available at Williams-Sonoma, Frontenac, 314.567.9211.
CHEESE, PLEASE According to toasted ravioli legend, after the ravioli was dropped into the boiling oil, the chef tried to salvage the dish by sprinkling some parmesan cheese on top. Finish off your own squares with a microplane cheese mill (6), and you’re sure to have a delicious outcome. Available at Williams-Sonoma, Frontenac, 314.567.9211.
SETTING THE STAGE Finish off your Italian table with these updated touches. Table cloth and dinner napkins available at Cornucopia, Kirkwood, 314.822.2440. Pewter beverage tub available at Savvy Surrounding Style, Ladue, 314.432.7289. Penne rigate (7) and casareccia (8) available at Kitchen Conservatory, Clayton, 314.862.2665.