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My New Italian Chitarra Pasta Cutter

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Homemade pasta with the legendary Italian chitarra, a harp-shaped pasta cutting tool.

Pasta alla chitarra is homemade pasta cut using the instrument above. It's a kitchen guitar of sorts. It has 36 chords on one side and 72 on the other.

When I opened the box yesterday I explained a friend I was about to realize an old dream. As I passed my hands over the chitarra's chords, he looked at it and asked 'So, you want to become a musician?'. He really meant it.

And the chitarra really looks like a small harp, only much cheaper. The instrument and 3 cassetti asciugapasta, wire frames to dry fresh pasta cost only Ç44 from Centro Casalinghi near Mantova. Many people sell it in the US as well. It comes from Abruzzo where they call it carrature.

First you need to make fresh pasta. I made mine with about 100 grams of regular flour for each egg, but I think it would be best to use semolina for a harder, less elastic dough that cuts better.

Then you laminate the pasta using the machine, folding it in two every time to get a smoother structure and no holes.

Below you see the pasta sheet in the middle of the process, still not smooth.

You lay a sheet of pasta on the chitarra and use a kitchen roll and your hands to press it against the chords. A bit like the movie Cube.

Put a lot of flour on each side of the pasta sheet otherwise it will stick again as soon as it is trough. Press with your fingers. My first two batches were ruined on the other side of the chitarra, where cords are much closer to each other. The dough would just heal and make a whole sheet a second after it went through. I will try again some day with a harder dough.

Remove the pasta and lay it on a floured cloth, or better, on pasta drying frames like I did here.

Nice texture.

Boil it about 2 minutes in salted water. Don't put any oil if you want the sauce to stick even better.

<>╚ pronto! Here is my pasta served in a rag¨.

The spaghetti side of the chitarra is trickier to use. With twice more chords, regular pasta dough will stick and spaghetti stick together. Using semolina flour (hard grain flour) and water only, I managed to make the most delicious spaghetti alla chittara:

chitarra pasta

You can see the generous quantity of flour I used to coat the spaghetti so they won't stick together:

spaghetti

You need to separate the spaghetti one by one and leave them to dry. It is great fun!

<>pasta alla chitarra

<>The spaghetti cook only 2 minutes in hot water. I made this batch with garlic, oil and chilies. Delicious!

spaghetti alla chitarra

Published 25/09/2006
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27 Comments

  • #1
  • Comment by Janis Rodman
  • on: 26/01/2007
Hi there! This is what I have been looking for... I live in So
California, San Diego County. Is there a place where I can purchase
one? Or buy one on line? Thank you!
  • #2
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 27/01/2007
Hello Janis, it is rather easy to buy a chitarra in the US, several shops sell it online. One is called italiankitchenware.com but you can also find it sometimes on Ebay.com
It is a great utensil and definitely one people will talk about!
  • #3
  • Comment by kostas antonio
  • on: 21/10/2007
Your pasta was really a very interesting idea !
  • #4
  • Comment by Marie Franzoi
  • on: 25/10/2007
Great article and I have been trying to find where I can buy a Chitarra.  I live in New Jersey.  Is this the same chitarro you use to make mozzerella?
  • #5
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 29/10/2007
Marie Franzoi, this is a special chitarra just for pasta. You need the correct width. It is not the same used in cheesemaking.
  • #6
  • Comment by nana
  • on: 16/11/2007
You are sooo cool!!!I love your workThank you for the site
  • #7
  • Comment by Risa
  • on: 27/01/2008
Last night a friend was kind enough to teach me and my husband how to make pasta. (My husband had made it once before, but he wanted to understand the intricacies.) My friend made it look effortless. During conversation we talked about the "Old Fashioned Pasta Harp" (Chitarra) that his grandmother had used. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I remembered I had seen one before. I Googled Pasta Harp and found your VERY LOVELY web page. I sent him your URL and I am JAZZED about buying one before long.Thank you and cheers!RisaSan Francisco Bay area
  • #8
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 28/01/2008
Thank you Risa for this lovely expression - a "pasta harp". I love this! You can buy chitarras on Ebay and several people sell them quite cheap in the US. Happy pasta making!
  • #9
  • Comment by John
  • on: 25/04/2008
Your site is great! great ideas and pics. I just purchased a Chitarra and I am not getting great results. After kneading the dough with the pasta machine, then laying it on the chitarra I use a rolling pin on the dough, but it doesn't seem to cut all the way through and the dough just seems to stay stuck to the wires. What am I doing wrong?
  • #10
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 26/04/2008
John, the trouble you have with the chitarra is normal and I had the same. If you can't cut through the pasta either it's too thick, too dry, the chords are not tight enough or you are not applying enough pressure with the rolling pin. As for the pasta that sticks to the chitarra, you can either sprinkle your pasta sheets more generously with flour before cutting them, or make a slightly dryer mix, or just let the sheets dry for 20 minutes before cutting. Keep plenty of flour to sprinkle on top the pasta as it is being cut. Good luck!
  • #11
  • Comment by Joseph
  • on: 27/06/2008
Hey I came acrosss your article looking to buy a garganelli comb. where did you get your supplies. I really like the drying racks they look like they are stackable..  . LMK  Joseph
  • #12
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 28/06/2008
I think I had bought them from Il Toscano in Italy, but it's not so simple to order from them if you are abroad.
  • #13
  • Comment by JosÚ Luis Rucci
  • on: 15/08/2008
Hello, I'm looking where I get a "chitarra" as a sign the page and how much.
Greetings
  • #14
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 19/08/2008
JosÚ, you can find a chittarra pasta maker on Ebay.com
  • #15
  • Comment by Melanie
  • on: 15/02/2009
I really loved your article.  My husband just had a chitarra shipped to me for my birthday, from Fantes Kitchen Wares Shop in Philadelphia (fantes.com).  It didn't come with any instructions, and there were very limited ones on their web page--so this article was a godsend.  The only thing I did different was roll my pasta sheets by hand.  My first batch went smoothly.
  • FX's answer→ Melanie, how thin did you manage to get your pasta sheet?

  • #17
  • Comment by Stacey D'Amico
  • on: 02/03/2009
Hello,
   We spoke through email many months ago about pasta gadgets. I want to buy a pasta guitar. Fantes website sells 2 different kinds. One made in Italy and one made in the US. The one made in Italy looks like the board underneath that catches the pasta is slanted so it will slide down and out. I'm not sure how important this feature is and if the US made one has the same slanted under board i=or if it is flat.
Can you make any recommendations. This is a gadget i only want to buy once.
Thanks again for a great site as always ...you are my favorite recipe site!
Thanks Stacey
  • FX's answer→ Stacey, I apologize for the late reply. I only own one chitarra, and haven't seen the others you mention. But the main thing is that you can keep the strings tight and how many strings there are (size of your pasta!). Let me know how it works for you when you get your chitarra!

  • #19
  • Comment by kenneth babcock
  • on: 31/10/2010
i will be 57 on the 30th of november , and when i was around a little over 2 1/2 too 3 my mother said she had me helping her make and cut pasta ! wow it is in my blood i do believe ,two years ago she read a old letter telling me that my grandfathers cousin  stated his grandfather was born around palermo sicily some where ? without knowing ,,,,something strange came about i was cooking and making pasta makers for others and ,,,the bottom line is this articles just light me up and i highly want to thank you  kenneth/luigi as i am called by my older peer's
wonderful! it were thousands of years that i did not see those kind of manual tools for pasta making ;) Now we just use the machines (like the one that you are using in the third picture) with special cutting blades.
  • #21
  • Comment by monica heresi
  • on: 03/12/2010
Necesito conprar la chitarra para cortar pasta, ojalß me puedan ayudar,
GRACIAS
  • FX's answer→ Monica, la puedes comprar en Ebay me parece.

  • #23
  • Comment by daniel
  • on: 10/02/2011
TE AGRADECERIA  SI ME PODES DECIR DONDE SE PUEDE COMPRAR LA MAQUINA BIGOLARO. HAY EN ARGENTINA, SINO UNA DIRECCION EN ITALIA. MUCHAS GRACIAS.-
  • #24
  • Comment by Dawn  
  • on: 14/02/2011
My family has a chitarra.  My grandmother received it for a wedding gift so the chitarra is approximately 90 years.  I would try to describe it to people but they still would not understand.  My grandmother would roll the dough herself and then roll it on the guitar.  I saw a picture in the magazine and I could not believe that they are still being produced.  
  • #25
  • Comment by Ravennarose
  • on: 02/04/2011
Bought my chitarra at Fante's in Philly - i think they have a web-site. The texture of the pasta is amazing!  I used half semolina, half all purpose flour and three eggs per 2 cups of flour mixture and and about 1 tblsp. of olive oil.  I let the sheets dry about 15 minutes before using the chitarra.  I served it with clams and bay scallops with wine wine and garlic.  Simply amazing.
  • #26
  • Comment by chiffonade
  • on: 05/04/2011
Hi! For some reason I have not gotten updates from you. Can you please put me back on the list!! Hope you are well. I did a search on chitarra and wound up here. Happy to see you!  Get me back on that list!
  • #27
  • Comment by Maria
  • on: 12/07/2011
I have just inherited my grandmothers Chitarra, on one side it needs to be restrung. My husband was looking for information on restringing and came across your website. Thank you, I went to "fantes.com" where I found what we were looking for. I also inherited my great grandmothers "stick". It is the long wooden handle used to roll out the pasta dough.  Today I had the privilege to teach my granddaughter what I learned as a child. In response to a writers problem, after I roll the pasta on the chitarra, what does not fall I use a pastry brush to brush it down, it works well.

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