When chefs from Barbacco to the French Laundry need the best Italian ingredients, they call up importer Howard Case of Casa de Case. Here are his picks for pantry essentials.
The high-acid, dense, and sweet San Marzano tomato has an unrivaled mystique. At Una Pizza Napoletana, owner-chef Anthony Malgieri uses Solania brand D.O.P. (protected designation of origin) tomatoes to make the sauce for his legendary pizzas. $5 (28 ounces) at Williams-Sonoma, 2 Embarcadero Center, 415-421-2033.
For dried pasta, Granoro is the go-to brand for the city’s chefs, and Attilio—named after the 95-year-old, still-working founder of the company—is their top of the line. Barbacco goes through cases of the Attilio paccheri. $2.60 (500 grams) at Avedano’s Holly Park Market, 235 Cortland Ave., 415-285-6328
The Olive Oil
Francesco de Padova’s biologico (that’s “organic” in Italian) extra virgin olive oil is produced from a 1,000-acre estate in Puglia. The olives are picked and cold-pressed within 12 hours. The French Laundry uses the fairly priced oil to make artichokes en barigoule. $14 (.5 liter) at Casa de Case.
Since 1860, Cavedoni has been making balsamic vinegar in Modena and this one is used by restaurants from Spruce to Boulevard. The perfect fusion of sweet and sour, a drizzle of this over panna cotta with fresh strawberries is a righteous way to end a spring dinner. $55 (250 ml) at Tuscany Flavors.
From Gangi Dante, an organic farm located in central Sicily, this dried oregano is left on the stem. The perfect gift, it’s as beautiful to look at as it is delicious to cook with. $3.75 (1 ounce) at Sputino de Ottimista, 1957 Union St., 415-931-6410.
If an ancient staple can be hot, then farro continues to keep its status as the “it” grain. “We just can’t keep it in stock,” says Howard Case. Delfina’s just one of the local restaurants that loves this Agribosco organic farro grown in Umbria in a co-op of 124 small farms. Use it for everything from risotto to soup to salads. $7 (1 pound) at Boulettes Larder, 1 Ferry Building, 415-399-1155.
*Published in the April issue of 7x7 Magazine