Strictly tomato

Spaghetti versus risotto? The Costardi brothers play with two essential elements in Italian cuisine

Christian and Manuel: the two Costardi brothers

Christian and Manuel: the two Costardi brothers for many years now have been the chefs of the Hotel Cinzia in Vercelli, a family business since four generations. They are obviously very familiar with rice, too. However, this year they were invited on stage at Identità di Pasta, during the Congress held in February in Milan. They also recently decided to put in their menu a Spaghettone with tomato and basil, which has a lot to share with one of their famous rice dishes (photo credit Brambilla/Serrani)

Once upon a time there were two boys, Christian and Manuel, both of who attended a kindergarten run by nuns... This is how this story begins because our Risotto al Pomodoro, tomato risotto, was born for the very reason of forgetting the risotto served in kindergarten, which was acid, a light pink colour, overcooked and, let’s say it: disgusting. The Costardi's Tomato Rice is instead now one of our “must”. Besides, since we put it into a tin, it has become a signature dish, as the English would say.

With Risotto al Pomodoro we got lots of satisfaction and every time we serve it our client is always impressed. The first sentiment we believe it inspires in people is the surprise given by a dish that looks so simple yet simple it is not. Then around one year ago we decided to pay a tribute and put a “pasta dish” in the menu, despite being risotto-specialists by definition. What kind of pasta did we choose?

The Spaghettone...

The Spaghettone...

Spaghettone with tomato and basil! For sure, making tomato spaghetti is even easier than tomato risotto: because in the tomato risotto there’s the rice variable, which is a food that is alive and changes depending on what we add. Tomato, in particular, is not easy to add to risotto because its acid component could slow down the cooking.

This is why we wanted to transfer our knowledge, developed in the preparation of risotto, also to spaghetti. Our Spaghettone is cooked in infusion, following the lesson of master Davide Scabin, for 7 minutes, then drained, and the cooking is then completed in the tomato sauce itself, the same we use when preparing our Risotto. Once the spaghetti are cooked, on the base of the dish we put a layer of basil pesto and lemon zest, we roll the spaghetti and we finish the dish with pesto, lemon zest and a drop of oil.

And the Risotto. Strictly tomato

And the Risotto. Strictly tomato

The decision of putting tomato spaghetti in the menu may seem crazy but tomato risotto was too. We believe it is right and proper to put in the menu a dish like tomato spaghetti, especially in contrast with risotto.

When we thought of tomato risotto, our desire was to manage to make our risotto as similar as possible to tomato pasta, in terms of cooking and sensations. When we created our spaghetti we wanted it to be as similar as possible to our risotto: life is strange. As we said during our speech at Identità di Pasta, for us rice is love while pasta is fun.


Chefs' life stories

Men who, for a moment, leave pots and pans to tell us their experience and point of view