Comparing Cheap vs Expensive pasta

Italian Chef Compares Cheap vs Expensive Pasta – Is It Worth Paying Extra?

When you go down the pasta aisle at your local supermarket, chances are you might often reach for the cheaper pasta – or if you’ve been following me long enough, maybe you don’t! After all, many people think, why would you need to spend that extra dollar or two on expensive brands when the cheap pasta seems to do the job just fine? Because it does – right?

What if I told you that there’s a whole world of difference between the two?!

In this video, I’m exploring the age-old debate: cheap vs expensive pasta. I’m here to share my experience and knowledge on why investing in premium pasta just might be worth those extra dollars from the perspective of an Italian.

Keep reading or watch my full YouTube review as I compare the nuances of pasta quality, taste, and overall dining experience of cheap vs expensive spaghetti and penne.


Italian Chef Compare Cheap vs Expensive Pasta – Is It Worth Paying Extra $$$?

pasta review

Comparing Cheap vs Expensive Spaghetti Pasta

If I served you San Remo, Barilla, and Liguori pasta side by side, could you tell the difference? And not just by the taste. We’re talking texture, color, and even the subtle distinctions that indicate their manufacturing process.

 San Remo Pasta Brand $3.00 AUD ($2.00 USD)

San Remo is an Australian brand that’s been around since 1936. It consists of durum wheat and water but its label does not say where the wheat is from. It’s a very dark orange color with black spots all over the pasta. This could mean a few different things such as the pasta is not made with good quality flour, it could have been dried (poorly), often at a very high temperature, and it could even have traces of vegetables or sometimes even insects in it. I’m sorry to say this is common with low-quality pasta brands. See it for yourself here.

Nutritional Value (100g Serving): 366 calories, 12.5g protein, 3g fiber, 30mg sodium.

Barilla $3.50 AUD ($2.20 USD)

Made in Italy, Barilla is a mass-produced brand that is available all over the world. Also made with durum wheat and water, Barilla has been a trusted brand for commercial pasta lovers for years. Similar in color and size to the San Remo, this pasta exhibits white spots, which indicate drying at too high a temperature, along with occasional black spots scattered throughout.

Nutritional Value (100g Serving): 366 calories, 12.5g protein, 3g fiber, 5mg sodium.

Liguori $4.99 AUD ($3.20 USD)

Liguori has been around since 1795. It is made in Gragnano, a hill town located between a mountain crest and the Amalfi Coast, about 19 miles southeast of Naples city. Gragnano is a very famous town for pasta makers and this pasta absolutely shows why!

The color of the Liguori pasta stands in stark contrast to that of other mass-produced brands. This pasta has been slowly dried – that alone produces a much more nutritious bite. It’s also much rougher which is preferred in pasta as this texture allows the sauce to fuse into the pasta in a much more delicious way. There are no irregular black spots here so you can cross out the chance of it being made up of anything unwanted.

Nutritional Value (100g Serving): 351 calories, 14.5g protein, 3g fiber, 0mg sodium.

Cheap vs Expensive Pasta

Taste Testing Cheap vs Expensive Pasta – Is There a Difference?

We cooked each kind of pasta for the recommended time on their box.  Of course, we had to try them mixed with my tomato basil pasta sauce.  You can get the recipe and learn how to make the basil pasta sauce here. It’s a simple, thick, luscious recipe and the fresh aromas will transport you right to my Nonna’s house for Sunday lunch.

San Remo was very soft but this could be expected after being cooked for 12 minutes. It was not al dente and was just not a texture, in my opinion any Italian would like. It also did not properly absorb the sauce leaving a lot behind in the pan, there was no loving fusion of the two. Edible but not right for me or Nonna.

We cooked the Barilla pasta for 9 minutes. Barilla also left behind a very large amount of sauce in the pan. The cooking time did achieve al dente but it simply would just not stick to the pasta and hold enough sauce.

After being cooked for 8 minutes, Liguori still held on to its bright color. There was so much life to it still. I used the exact same amount of tomato basil sauce and despite it being a thinner pasta, it absorbed a lot more sauce. The texture is better, the flavor is better, and it grew in size after cooking. Liguori took the experience to the next level. There was true love between the pasta and sauce. It was well worth the price.

So, Does Pasta Quality and Price Matter?

When comparing cheap vs expensive pasta, the experience of higher quality pasta, whether spaghetti or penne, is worth it. If I am hungry, I would eat all of them, but if I want to eat well (because I only live once), I will choose the one that gives me more flavor, better texture and that I can cook it to al dente perfectly. There is a big difference between pasta that cooks nicely and one that cooks perfectly. 

While cheaper pasta options may save you a few dollars at the checkout, they lack the overall dining experience that premium pasta offers. Liguori, with its rich history, careful crafting, and superior taste, really shows you the difference between an ordinary meal and an extraordinary one. It made each bite a moment to savor.

So next time you’re at the store, consider reaching for the premium option and treat yourself to a taste of Italy —it will transform your pasta night into a gourmet dinner right in your very own home.

Be sure to catch my full review on my YouTube channel as I compare cheap vs expensive spaghetti and penne pasta. Leave a comment if you have a favorite pasta brand and if this blog influenced what pasta you will be cooking with at your next dinner.

Comparing Pasta Brands

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4 Responses to Comparing Cheap vs Expensive pasta

  1. John the GuiriJohn the Guiri March 20, 2024 at 7:19 AM #

    I live in Spain, where I rarely see any of the brands that you mention on your site but do see various brands that promote themselves as being Italian and of good quality.

    My selection of pasta is based on colour – as light as possible or if whole grain from a brand whose white pasta is very pale -, brass-rolled if possible, and, trusting for once in the idea that the market’s operation should mean that what costs more is better, the price.

    Any other suggestions?.

    • Vincenzo's Plate March 26, 2024 at 10:50 AM #

      It sounds like you’ve got a fantastic approach to choosing your pasta, especially given the unique selection available to you in Spain! Choosing pasta that is as light as possible or choosing whole grain from a reputable brand are both great ways to make sure the pasta is truly authentic and better for you

      You might also consider looking into the texture and shape of the pasta. Some shapes are better suited to holding sauces than others, which can take your experience to the next level. For instance, ridged pastas like rigatoni or penne are great for thicker sauces, while smoother pastas like linguine or spaghetti complement lighter, oil-based sauces well.

      If you have access to it, try making a special recipe using an artisanal egg variety too, it’s pretty incredible how this can really elevate a dish and make it a little more Italian. Grazie!

  2. teresa March 21, 2024 at 9:07 PM #

    I agree entirely. I’m in Belgium and have never had Liiguori but I’ll see if I can find it. I see it’s from Gragnano – I love Gragnano pasta. My favourite brands are Rummo, Gragnano of course, La Molisana and Mennucci . In a pinch De Cecco is ok too.Never Barilla. I often make my own but the problem is finding good quality flour.

    • Vincenzo's Plate March 25, 2024 at 1:46 PM #

      Well said my friend! Pasta choices can truly elevate a dish and you have made some fantastic choices. These quality brands are also better for our bodies so it’s important to consider what we are putting inside our bodies.

      Bravo on making your own pasta – there’s nothing better! Making pasta at home is such a satisfying and delicious experience. Happy Cooking!

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