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Taste test: packaged gnocchi from Gia Russa, Alessi, Flora Fine Foods

Gnocchi, the pillowy dumplings made of potato and flour or semolina, were a popular option this summer every time my European traveling companion asked for a vegetarian meal abroad. Before that, I considered gnocchi the ultimate comfort food or a perfect, carbohydrate-loading meal to serve friends before running a race. Since discovering the popularity of gnocchi in France and Germany, I have enjoyed the pasta with lighter sauces and fresh vegetables, as well as sweet versions with butter and cinnamon. Our panelists were eager to sample the five brands we purchased at local grocery stores. All were prepared on the stovetop according to package directions.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent


(out of 100)
Gia Russa 65Alessi 64Flora Fine Foods 58

One panelist described these as "dense pillows filled with feathery down." He loved the shape of the pasta pieces and the "fulfilling" flavor of the little bites. "It's like a real 'Pisa' that leans well in the mouth," he said. Another favored the consistency of the pasta. "These would hold up great in a heavy meat and tomato sauce with a lot of cheese," he said.The Alessi pasta was lighter in texture than some of those sampled. "It looks very homemade," said one judge who appreciated the softness of the pieces. "It's a perfect blend of chew and al dente," said another panelist. "It's got a great taste and a nice flow in the mouth." He said it would be great with sweet or savory herbs and sauces, adding, "A lemon butter sauce would be perfect.""These are yummy," declared a panelist who allowed that he had never prepared gnocchi at home. "It reminds me of a rainy afternoon in Firenze waiting for our turn at the museum." Another said these bites were the pinnacle of deliciousness. "It's like a great tune by Taylor Swift," he said of the pasta. Only one judge said the brand was too soft, saying it needed the addition of something like bold Parmesan cheese to improve the taste and texture.

they buy?
Three of the four judges said yes.Three of the four judges said yes.Three of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$2.50 for a 16-ounce package from Publix.$2.49 for a 16-ounce package from Publix.$2.50 for a 17.5-ounce package from Publix.

Also Sampled: Delallo ($3.69 for a 16-ounce box from the Fresh Market, 40 points) and Archer Farms ($3.79 for a 17.6-ounce package from Target, 39 points).

Panelists: Bob Devin Jones, artistic director Studio@620; Wayne Conery, retired restaurant manager; John Hehn, foodie and owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc.; and Mary Jane Park, Times staff writer. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Serving sizeThree-fourths cupThree-fourths cupOne-fourth cup
Fat/Fiber0.5g / 3g0g / 1g0g / 1g
Sugars/Sodium0g / 440mg1g / 600mg0g / 200mg
Carbs/Protein42g / 4g43g / 4g17g / 2g

Taste test: packaged gnocchi from Gia Russa, Alessi, Flora Fine Foods 10/19/15 [Last modified: Monday, October 19, 2015 2:06pm]
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