Sourcing Connections through Family & Traditions in the Heart of Italian Countryside

May 24, 2019 York, Maine

Written by: Jay Lombard, Buyer

Eating is about so much more than preparing and cooking food: It is about giving, spirituality, friendship, brotherhood, beauty, warmth, colour, experience, fragrance, simplicity and, of course, company. - Gino Girolomoni

Standing tall and proud on top of Isola del Piano overlooking the historic town of Urbino and a view of the Adriatic Sea is the factory where we currently produce 15 different cuts of Montebello pasta. (Pssst, we’re introducing 3 new pastas this summer – Spinach Fettucine, Tricolor Fusilli and Maccheroni for a total of 18.)

As the Buyer for Stonewall Kitchen, I had an opportunity to visit the manufacturing facility and meet the people of the agricultural cooperative who make Montebello pasta.

With the Montebello monastery at the heart, the factory complex sits atop the cradle of organic agriculture in Italy and is wedged between the peaks of the Republic of San Marino and Monte Conero, with a winding road leading to the pasta factory, a modern office building, the monastery, and even a locanda, a traditional Italian Guest House and Restaurant.

Montebello Monastery Entrance in Urbino

The old monastery (which dates back to 1380 and is pictured on each package) is now an agricultural museum displaying antique farming equipment where visitors and local schoolchildren learn about the region’s history of farming and the laborers who have worked in the fields for many generations.

Montebello’s commitment to the environment is demonstrated not just through organic farming methods. All of the electricity is generated from renewable sources.

Stepping inside the factory, we could see pastas of various shades of gold spew from machines during processing. The long-pasta machine generated cascading spaghetti and linguine that draped down like a curtain as they started to dry. Nearby, the “short” pasta machine churns out penne, maccheroni, and farfalle depending on the shape of the bronze-cut pasta molds.

Why use bronze? Because unlike other forms that are typically used, it creates a rougher and more porous texture which allows sauces to cling to the pasta.

Montebello has a special method to drying their pasta. While long pasta typical dries for six hours and short pasta dries for four, our pasta is dried at a lower temperature for double the amount of time of other pasta manufacturers to enhance the flavor, texture and aroma of Montebello pasta.

The agricultural cooperative is close to realizing an ambitious project to build their own organic flour mill. In the past, they relied on a small mill but it couldn’t keep up with the demand of their products. Recently, they have been contracting with flour mills in Italy to process their grain. Soon they will have their own mill in a completely organic supply chain from field to table.

During our visit, we watched the bow-tie shaped farfalle tumble into bags and get hand-packed into cases ready to ship to Stonewall Kitchen’s customers.

100% Native Italian Semolina
The selected semolina wheat used in this pasta is strictly of Italian origin and of the best quality, it also gives the pasta a golden color.

Planning a visit? While there is plenty to keep you busy in Urbino, the main attraction is slowing down and enjoying la dolce vita (the sweet life). Sip a wine spritz in the piazza, explore the winding streets (very hilly – so be prepared to climb), savor a bite of pastry or a cheesy wedge of piadina (the regional version of a panini) and take part in the slower pace of Northern Italian life.

Buon Appetito!

Jay Lombard Buyer

Jay Lombard is in his 4th year as the Buyer for Stonewall Kitchen’s growing family of brands. He resides in Portland with his wife, Ashlee, and they will jump at any opportunity for a culinary adventure… like driving up Maine’s coast for a lobster roll. Jay’s love of cooking was inherited from his grandfather who imported pasta, olive oil, tomato sauce and other goods from Italy. His favorite Stonewall Kitchen product is our Basil Alfredo Sauce for a quick, delicious and satisfying midweek meal.