On our way down to Chelsea Market to take a pasta-making class at Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina, I suggested to my kids that the quality of the class would depend entirely on the instructor or as I elegantly put it, “If the teacher sucks, the class will suck.” As my children have been students for most of their lives, this was not breaking news to them.
Well, the teacher didn’t suck, and raising the bar yet higher, Antonella Rana knows how to captivate her students. During the hour-long class, as we made dough from scratch and later cut and filled two kinds of ravioli, I could see my kids’ personalities coming through as they lost themselves in their pasta making.
— My teen was all business, demanding of herself that she should be able to cut and fill the ravioli better than her younger sister and brother;
— My younger daughter was all raw concentration and excitement, her every action saying “Wheee, I’m making pasta over here!”
— For my six-year-old son, the class was the ideal combination of messy hands and instant gratification, with the added bonus of being permitted to crack raw eggs by himself. The look on his face said, “I can’t believe these suckers are letting me get away with this,” though that’s pretty much his default look.
The class has a low-key intensity because whether you admit it to yourself or not, you’re trying to impress Antonella and yourself at the same time. But it’s low key nonetheless and often comfortably and (with a mouthy boy in the room) miraculously quiet as you all focus on kneading your dough or folding your ravioli. And Antonella knows just the right time to interject a bit of education, noting at one point, “as I said to your father, ricotta is like the natural glue for every filling” and it’s indeed gratifying to find this out first-hand as you’re mixing it up or placing a tiny ball of the ricotta-mascarpone-parmigiano mixture on your pasta sheet, or in your mouth.
Perhaps the best thing about this as the dad was that rather than sitting off to the side checking my email or gamely watching my kids have all the fun, I was playing, too. Given that those “Daddy and Me”-type classes are barely a memory for me or my kids, this kind of shared learning experience is exactly the refresher we needed to stay in touch.
Pasta Making for Kids is $70 per adult/child combo, including lunch (additional grown-up $35, extra child $25) and is held Sundays at 10am year-round.