Italian food is one of the most beloved cuisines in the United States and beyond. When you think of Italian food, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Maybe it brings back memories about dinner at grandma’s house, or perhaps impressing a first date at a fancy restaurant, or the mouthwatering desserts at a friend’s wedding. Italian cuisine is everywhere, integrated into American culture and even sometimes even changes to satisfy our own palates (see: the origins of pizza). But have you ever tried making your favorite Italian dishes at home? Well, here are some essential tools every cook should have in his or her arsenal.
A mezzaluna is a single, curved blade with a handle on each end. Although some variations can have 2 or even 3 blades, the most common ones just have one. The mezzaluna, Italian for “half-moon” (hence, its shape) is mostly used to chop or mince herbs, vegetables and occasionally meats and cheese. You’ve probably seen videos of mezzaluna used to cut pizza in commercials or on TV. The biggest advantage of using a mezzaluna is that works quicker and easier than a normal knife. Plus, you’re not endangering your hands or getting them dirty — especially beneficial when working with hot peppers and other spicy/smelly ingredients.
Saluti! Any good Italian chef will have a wine opener, with which to open…well, wine bottles. Yes, wine is often paired with homemade Italian food and is frequently drunk before, during and even (long) after the meal. But your chef doesn’t just need the wine opener to serve the table — wine is a staple ingredient in many Italian dishes including pasta sauces, seafood, veal and so much more. A very large number of authentic recipes will probably require wine, so get your corkscrew ready!
Pasta is essential. It’s delicious, but sometimes the boxes of dried spaghetti in your local grocery store just don’t cut it. So for something more fresh, invest in a pasta machine. Unless you love tediously cutting dough into individual noodles (like grandma used to do in the old country), then save yourself some time and effort — especially if you’re cooking for multiple people. You’re still able to make your own homemade dough, but the pasta machine will press it into noodles for you while you focus on other, more important tasks at hand; and you’ll notice the difference. Handmade pasta is just tastier. You can take our word for it or come by and try it yourself!
We figured that this goes without saying, but you can’t make pasta without cooking pots and strainers. Whether cooking the pasta noodles, simmering a sauce, or throwing together a stew/soup, multiple large and durable pots are a must-have. Strainers and colanders need no explanation, just make sure you clean the sink that the pasta noodles are drained into.
If you plan on making professional-grade ravioli, or even just acceptable ravioli, get a quality ravioli cutter. Known in Italy as “stampi per ravioli”, they help both the integrity of the dumpling as well as the appearance. They also allow for ease and speed when it comes time to cut, fill and seal the homemade dough pockets, whipping up the delicious dumplings in a relatively short amount of time. This tool is absolutely essential for any ravioli lover.
These are just some of the absolute essential tools that you’ll find in any Italian kitchen. However, if you don’t feel like putting in the work, feel free to reserve a table at La Buona Vita! Whether for a casual dining experience or for private parties and catering for special occasions, we’ll accommodate you and cook a delicious, homemade Italian meal. Get in touch to learn more.