For most of my life, I thought ravioli at home was just something that was supposed to be mediocre. My mom would buy this no-name frozen stuff that almost always broke in the water, leaving the noodles to cook in ricotta water until they were far too mushy. When I started to cook for myself, I tried other brands and remained unimpressed.
Eventually, I started buying fresh stuff from Murray's, a famous cheese and specialty shop in New York City that I'm fortunate to live near, and it was like I discovered what the restaurant industry knew the whole time: Fresh ravioli is the only ravioli that's acceptable. But at $10 for 12 plain cheese ravioli, I kinda felt like I was being punked. ("Let's see how many of these tiny boxes we can get this girl to buy," I imagined cashiers saying behind my back.)
In a quest to find something better (read: still yummy but cheaper!), I stumbled upon Giovanni Rana pasta. Get this: I found it in my grocery store's refrigerator section! Not the freezer section. And, in case you're wondering, no, my regular grocery store is not fancy!
Buy: Rana Mushroom Ravioli, $6.50 for 10 ounces at Jet
I started with the four-cheese ravioli and loved the generous package size, the low price, the fact that the pasta cooked in just four minutes (frozen obviously takes a little longer), and that not a single pouch burst. Cheese that stays inside the ravioli? What a novel idea!
The cheese (ricotta, Romano, mozzarella, and gorgonzola) was flavorful and creamy. And the pasta was surprisingly thin — especially compared to the thick, gummy stuff I was used to from the freezer section. I actually liked this stuff better than what I had been buying at Murray's.
Fun fact: Rana's ravioli also made our top 100 list of grocery essentials in our Kitchn 100 program.
Then, a year ago, I was lucky enough to get invited to go to Italy to see the factory and meet the man on the package (there's an actual Giovanni Rana and it's a family-run company). I wish I could tell you that I have a ton of cool photos to show you, but I do not. Not much is allowed on the factory floor (my fellow reporters and I were all given special pens that are magnetic so that, should any pieces fall off and make their way into the food, it would be detected before the food heads out to stores).
While I was there, I got to try nearly every pasta the brand makes (it's not just ravioli — they also do tortellini, fettuccine, gnocchi, and more) and I really got to see, first-hand, the company's dedication to fresh, whole ingredients. They only use basil that's grown in the approved D.O.P. (Protected Designation of Origin) region and there are no GMO ingredients, no artificial flavors or coloring, etc.
During the tour, one of the lines was making this mushroom ravioli. The aroma was so good, I wish I could have bottled it up. Before the trip I was on the fence about mushrooms; now not only do I love them, but I also reach for a bag of mushroom ravioli more often than I do a bag of cheese ravioli (it's yummy and it feels like a more balanced dinner).
Straight up: Rana is now the only premade ravioli I'm willing to buy. Ideally the mushroom, but I'm down for any of it.
Do you have a favorite premade ravioli brand? Do you love Rana? Discuss in the comments below.