Do you know your fresh from your dry pasta dishes? Both offerings have their culinary strengths, yet fresh is often regarded as the more appetizing option. Continental Noodles, an authentic family-run pasta business in Toronto, is no stranger to this.
Since 1967, Continental Noodles has been serving handmade pasta, paying close attention to texture, taste and quality. Continental Noodles is proudly committed to serving its customers with the freshest of products, daily. The shop offers catering and delivery, walk-in or take out for its high quality pasta, gourmet sauces, and entrees.
The appeal of fresh pasta is generally found in its richer taste and softer, more tender, texture. Handmade with the finest ingredients, this pasta tends to offer a more distinct flavour. For pasta to be “fresh”, there must be no artificial flavours, colours, sweeteners, preservatives or sugar. The baking process and attention to detail is evident in its taste with hand-kneaded and rolling efforts, leading to perfection. Like bread, fresh pasta-making requires skill and patience; translating immediately to the taste buds.
Continental Noodles’ fresh linguine
Dry vs. fresh pasta
The difference between dry and fresh pasta is evident in its ingredients, production and taste. Dry pasta is made of water, finely ground semolina flour, and usually powdered eggs that contain different additives and preservatives. Dry pasta is considered more simple, requiring complex and rich-in-flavour sauces to maximize the dish. The ideal sauces to pair with dry pasta are hearty tomato, pesto, and olive oil-based sauces.
Made of fresh eggs and high-quality flour, fresh pasta takes half the time to cook, compared to dry, and leads to a more tender, soft texture when consumed. The permeable surface of fresh pasta allows it to soak up flavours more effectively, resulting in a more embodied dish. Fresh pasta is best paired with creamy white sauces to complement its elegant texture. Options like carbonara or a smooth, butter-and-gorgonzola sauce can elevate the authentic experience of fresh pasta, without distracting from the pasta itself.
Continental Noodles’ fresh ravioli
Vince Liberatore inherited the pasta business from his father, Franco Liberatore who started making 100% Durum semolina pasta, unsurpassed in texture, colour and quality, in 1967. When the family tradition was passed on to him, Vince had a vision to expand the business and open numerous pasta shops. Continental Noodles has expanded its business throughout the GTA, with three locations, two of which are retail shops in Woodbridge and North York. Vince oversees the operation with his daughter Sarah who has recently had a baby girl. The Liberatore’s hope the business will become a fourth generation business, keeping the family traditions alive.
The Liberatore family
Vince emphasizes the quality of ingredients is paramount. In fact, he shared that chefs in Italy told him “your secret ingredient is your ingredients.” According to Liberatore, “The least amount of ingredients you have, the better the product will taste and the better the product will be good for you.”
This philosophy reflects Continental Noodles’ commitment to crafting fresh pasta with meticulous attention to its quality. The emphasis on selecting the finest ingredients has become a defining feature of their pasta.
Liberatore discusses some of the traditional methods of pasta making, explaining how “dry pasta is predominately extruded, whereas fresh pasta is laminated. Laminated pasta is the similar version of the old school pasta machine on the kitchen table with the crank handle. This results in a more porous texture and silk like finish without overworking the dough like extruded pasta does.”
Best Fresh Pasta Choices
Certain types of pasta are simply beyond compare when prepared fresh. According to Vince Liberatore, the best types of pasta to buy fresh are “fresh lasagna sheets, fresh cannelloni sheets, fettuccine, pappardelle, spaghetti alla chitarra, [and] pici are a must in fresh.”
Liberatore elaborates, highlighting how certain sauces best accompany fresh pasta, stating “fresh pasta lends itself to simpler sauces, using the highest quality ingredients and cooking for a short period.”
Continental Noodles variety of fresh pasta
Continental Noodles’ Fresh Pasta Offerings
Throughout its history, Continental Noodles has developed its menu in collaboration with discerning chefs to develop a diverse range of custom pasta products. The company offers a variety of goods, including seasonal varieties.
According to Liberatore, “the summer time is typically more short cuts, rigatoni, penne, casarecce, lasagna sheets. Winter months are gnocchi, stuffed ravioli.” Other seasonal options include themed products such as Valentine’s Day hearts, Christmas trees, ginger-bread-man ravioli, ghosts and witches’ hair for Halloween. In addition, many fresh pantry staples, such as jarred sauces, are offered.
Continental Noodles is proudly able to maintain traditional, leading techniques while staying on top of industry trends by creating new products, such as organic pasta. In addition, they fulfill custom pasta requests, committed to providing customers with the exact pasta they desire.
Continental Noodles’ fresh gnocchi
While dry pasta is often an ideal accompaniment for sauce-focused dishes, the benefits of fresh pasta are endless, proving the beauty of simplicity when done right.