I’ve always wanted to learn how to make pasta from scratch, but unfortunately the size of my kitchen in my Midtown apartment doesn’t lend itself well to cooking activities that require lots of space.
Lucky for me, we were recently invited to a media preview of Aunt Jake’s pasta lab. A new Italian eatery located in the heart of Little Italy, Aunt Jake’s recently launched a gorgeous pasta lab on the second story of its expansive restaurant, which conveniently overlooks Mulberry Street.
I wasn’t totally sure what to expect, as cooking classes tend to vary depending on where you take them. But, I asked my friend Simina to join me and off we went! Recently renovated, the restaurant gives off rustic vibes, with clean lines and an open-air feel.
We were taken upstairs to the pasta lab, where we were greeted with an expansive parquet butcher-block pasta making station, complete with a gorgeous marble countertop. I’d describe the class as “family style,” as you’re all working on the same countertop and will more than likely end up chatting with your neighbor before the night is over.
Being the lucky Bitches that we are, this particular class was taught by none other than Executive Chef Carmine Di Giovanni himself. Once we settled in, he walked us through the three different types of flour typically used to make pasta, explaining everything from the textures to the mouth feels and more.
Next, we each got started making our own pasta! A few cups of flour here, a few cracked eggs there, and before we knew it, it was time to mix together our ingredients to create our pasta dough!
These steps were easier than I expected, thanks to the guidance of Chef Carmine and our fellow pasta makers. But, it was pretty messy. I wouldn’t recommend wearing your haute couture when making pasta from scratch. Or your jewelry, as I learned the hard way.
The harder part was kneading and flattening the dough. We had so many questions. Now do you know when it’s time to stop kneading? Is our dough still too thick? Now, did we thin it out too much? We have to spend how long sending our dough through the hand crank?
Thankfully, Aunt Jake’s thought ahead and had pre-cranked sheets of dough prepped and ready for us to start cutting. Chef Carmine mentioned that he would use all of our dough to make separate batches of pasta. So, we were pleased that our hard work weren’t for naught. This was great prep—otherwise we would have been waiting quite a while for everyone to get their dough flat enough to actually start cutting the pasta.
The kind of pasta you make really depends on your class. In this case, we happened to be making Farfalle and hand-rolled Garganelli. For both varieties, you cut the pasta sheets into medium-sized squares or rectangles.
The Farfalle pasta seemed easy enough to make. (How hard can it be to make bow ties?) But, it actually ended up being a lot harder than it looked. Placing your pointer finger in the middle of the square piece of dough, you were supposed to squeeze with your middle finger and your thumb to successfully get the bowtie shape. Ours ended up turning out pretty nicely, after a few tries!
Making the Garganelli was really fun process. You place a corner of the square sheet of dough on a stick and roll it onto a textured block, eventually making the tubed pasta. We could have easily cranked a few bowls of these out, and had an absolute blast.
The best part? The entire class only costs $25 per person! Not only does that include making your pasta, it includes indulging in your creation afterward. That’s right, Aunt Jake’s cooks and serves your pasta to you in their adorable dining area once you’re finished. We’ll definitely be coming back to make more pasta, as the experience was so fun–plus that price is hard to beat for a cooking class in Manhattan.
If you’re interested in signing up for a class, whether it’s a date night or a large group gathering, make your reservations here. Classes are currently held three days a week, with both daytime and nighttime reservations available.