By Elizabeth Johnson
STRADA IN CHIANTI, Italy–Sitting on the table in Pastificio Fabbri, in the town of Strada in Chianti, is an antique pasta machine patented in the US in 1906 by Angelo Vitantonio. Giovanni Fabbri cranks its wooden handle, trying to create the perfect noodle. His family has used the same machine to press their dough for four generations of pasta making.
The earliest evidence of a machine to make pasta appears in Thomas Jefferson’s notes dating back to 1787. After taking a tour of northern Italy, Jefferson acquired the plans for a macaroni machine and built his own for home use. However, it was not until 1906, that Angelo Vitantonio patented the first “official” pasta machine in Cleveland, Ohio. Vitantonio resided with many other Italian immigrants in Cleveland’s Murray Hill neighborhood, now known as Little Italy, and presumably a quicker way to make pasta was in demand.
After receiving his patent, Vitantonio started selling the machines through his company, VillaWare. The little invention took off faster than anyone could have expected. Some say the pasta machine spread faster than the radio in Vitantonio’s Italian/American community.
Now, over one hundred years later, Vitantonio’s gadget has spread far beyond Little Italy, appearing in kitchens all over the world. The little machine has even managed to find its way all the way back to Italy.
From Italy, to Ohio and back again, the pasta machine has come full circle.