Talented Pasta Artists You'll Wish You Knew About Sooner

We're living in the golden age of food art. Hyper-realistic cakes are stealing the spotlight on shows like "Is It Cake?," ramen noodles are playfully knitted with chopsticks instead of knitting needles in viral Instagram videos, and pasta is taking an artistic stand. Unlike realistic cakes and ramen noodle sweaters, pasta art isn't unsettling. Instead, it's an ephemeral art form that's doing more than just piquing people's curiosities. It's modernizing the rather beautiful, handmade tradition of artisan, fresh pasta.

Before there were Barilla pasta boxes lining the shelves, pasta used to be made in the humble home kitchen (per the Heinz History Center). In fact, during World War I, fresh pasta wasn't seen as a delicacy. Rather, the boiled noodles were cooked for survival and sustenance during a time when meat wasn't readily available. 

Now, this once scarce homemade art is being thrown into dishes as cutting-edge, ornate embellishments, colorful surprises, and artistic homages to artists both dead and alive. The al-dente yellow noodle is being renovated, snipped, and placed upon a pedestal it didn't once have. "Artists became attuned to...personal alienation... [from] other screen-based activities," artist Sharon Butler told Smithsonian Magazine. The pandemic has made chefs change course, and the journey we're able to witness is inspiring. Here's a play-by-play of talented pasta artists you'll wish you knew about sooner.

Linda Miller Nicholson

Even at age four, Linda Miller Nicholson was fascinated with pasta. For a handful of months each year, she'd roll wine bottles against unleavened dough atop her grandparents' kitchen countertops. They didn't have traditional pasta-making tools, but it didn't matter — this was her first (albeit humble) introduction. Despite the lack of shiny, eye-catching pasta sheeters, Nicholson quickly fell in love with the practice. 

Now, her childhood self would be proud. Nicholson, also known as saltyseattle, has accomplished a lot. She's designed bespoke, pasta-inspired kitchen cabinets for Gigi Hadid, created an edible pasta portrait of Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, and even has a live pasta art installation draping playfully in New York's Eataly Downtown. For Nicholson, the sky's the limit. "You name it, and I've pasta-ed it," she tells The Spokesman-Review. "I will pasta anything under the sun." 

Her foray into pasta art began with her son. He wouldn't touch vegetables with a ten-foot pole, but noodles? He'd scarf those down without hesitation. Nicholson took to her pasta and blended it with everything from beets to blueberries, creating exciting, healthy solutions. Now, her miniature monarch butterflies and full-on "Starry Night" compositions have taken Instagram by storm. She never imagined her solution to be so deeply loved by many, but the confidence has empowered her to run with the medium. "I realized, 'Oh, my God, I do have artistic dexterity,' it just isn't something that involves holding a pen and paper or paintbrush," Nicholson told the Spokesman-Review.

David Rivillo

Playful, eye-catching, unique — these are the words used to describe David Rivollo's pasta designs. Even then, there's so much more to notice about his work. There are geometric and organic shapes, long and skinny stripes, minimal and busy patterns, interweaving lines, and plaid designs — Rivollo's seen it all, done it all, and made it all with pasta as the canvas. His patience and precision are evident. No line is too curved, too straight, or too plain. 

Rivollo covers everything from modernist and contemporary styles to even psychedelic waves in his pasta art. In an interview with Colossal Magazine, Rivollo shared what inspired him to start playing around with pasta, saying that after the death of Carloz Cruz Diez, he reproduced one of the artist's most "representative artworks for all Venezuelans. Since then, my mind has never stopped thinking about it and how to get different designs and patterns [in pasta]." 

Despite Diez's initial inspiration for Rivollo's craft, he finds ideas from nature, architecture, and even fashion design. Luckily for our curious eyes, Rivollo has absolutely no plans to stop anytime soon. "There is so much to accomplish in pasta design. It is just the beginning of something great, at least for me," he told Bored Panda.

Miyuki Adachi

For Miyuki Adachi, pasta isn't considered work. It's just fun. "[While] it's a tedious job for someone, [it's] a fun job for me," she said on Instagram. She's a self-described pasta geek, even though she went to school for American and British Literature, per My Modern Met. She doesn't work at any cozy Italian Cucina — she works at a buzzy Toronto-based sandwich fusion joint called Hot Dip. Adachi still manages to create peaceful pasta creations that Metro calls "better than meditation." They're more than just calming; they're quiet joys.  

Sure, her artwork isn't ultra-complex in nature, but it's uncannily soothing. There's something ethereal about her deftly pinched, rolled, and folded unleavened dough. Her pasta, small and bite-sized, is reminiscent of things you'd see in nature — seashells, curled leaves, green beans, small pebbles, and even corn on the cob come to mind. 

Adachi's humble creations also come from humble tools. She makes nearly everything she uses to tightly curl, shape, and bend the pasta, aside from the occasional kitchen knife. The wooden plaques, DIY rollers, and other handmade tools are all hers. Whether her commitment to her many simple and colorful noodle oddities comes from a place of childish wonder — it's without a doubt that Adachi brings an essence of play to every bundle of dough she rolls.

Jennifer Tran

Two things come to mind when you take a peek at Jennifer Tran's Instagram page. One, you can't decide whether her pasta sheet creations should be in an art gallery or on your dinner plate. Two, nearly everything she puts her mind to comes out beautiful, unique, and memorable. This isn't Tran's first run-in with art. She's put her spin on paper flowers, pasta sheets, and even Vietnamese desserts. Her family is also a rather artistic bunch (according to Lars, her father was an actor). But for Tran, food was, and has always been a fairly personal artistic endeavor, telling the magazine, "I'm a maker of all things practical and accessible."

Her true deep-dive into the sauce of pasta-making happened at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when she was introduced to pasta's whimsical colors and malleable form. For Tran, the food was similar to the paper she'd train her fingers on when making flowers. 

Despite her long run with pasta art, she's recently shifted her focus to making Vietnamese desserts. "It's time for me to go back to my [roots] and start sharing with you my creative takes on what's closer to my heart," Tran explained in an Instagram post. If you're concerned about the move — don't be. Tran is definitely a food artist to keep an eye on.

Anthony Andiario

Artistic pasta doesn't have to be colorful — it can also be minimal, and minimal can be beautiful. Anthony Andiario is a case in point. His minimalistic palette makes sense once you realize he wanted to be a graphic designer when he was younger, telling Philly Magazine that he was always an artistic kid. However, it wasn't until he hit 25 that Andiario hit his stride and made his own dough by hand (which eventually managed to find its way onto the menu of his renowned Pennsylvania restaurant, Andiario). But for Andiario, pasta wasn't a pastime he took on lackadaisically. Instead, it was a skill he sought to master.

It wasn't uncommon to find him huddled in his small apartment with pasta books and pasta tools surrounding him, music swaying above the boiling steam, as he folded, dipped, tasted, and tested each strand of pasta he made by hand. "I'm always chasing after perfection, trying to hone in and trying to do it better the next time," he told Bon Appetit. "I know it will never be perfect, but standing here and making it, it's just so satisfying." For some faithful followers of Andiario's Instagram, his perfection is palpable. 

Meryl Feinstein

Meryl Feinstein, or pastasocialclub, believes that dough is the answer to nearly everything. She's Food52's resident pasta maker and somewhat of a social media sensation for her kitsch creations. Prior to her deep love affair with pasta, she cut her teeth in public relations, but her husband inspired her to change trajectory. One day, he simply asked her, "Why not culinary school?" She took the suggestion and dove headfirst into the culinary arts. 

After her studies, she fell in love with pasta, but the pandemic forced her to reassess her goals. As many of us did, Feinstein struggled with loneliness. "I wanted to create an experience that made people feel like they could have fun," she told Whalebone Magazine. So, Feinstein's answer was simple. She started a club, a social one, based around pasta. 

What she realized soon after starting it was that these pasta classes weren't just fun distractions, they were meditative, calming, and therapeutic. Feinstein loved the mental health benefits behind the art of artisan pasta. "In every class that I teach, at least one person says, 'I feel like I'm meditating,'" she told Food & Wine.

Fiona Afshar

The name Fiona Afshar may be reminiscent of Disney Princesses, but her pasta designs? Well, they're just as whimsical. One look at Afshar's creations and you'll be introduced to a sea of floral, botanical shapes, calming lavenders, deep blues, pinks, mustard yellows, and bright whites. Her funky and kitschy designs are sheer fun, and they are actually quite healthy. As mentioned on her website, she takes pride in using healthier sourdough flour for its lower pH level, which makes it easier to digest. 

Despite her artistic flair, Afshar wasn't formally taught the art of making pasta. In fact, she used to be a computer programmer. Once she had more time to explore her true passions, she realized they actually all existed in the culinary world. "Pasta marries the best parts of culinary art with visual art," she writes on her website.

Since her plunge into the world of al-dente, she's been featured in SSENSE for creating pasta inspired by Fashion Week styles, selling pasta gift boxes based on popular fashion brands and her most coveted designs, and holding personal classes. In these workshops, Afshar invites others to learn just how she makes her rigatoni with joy, ease, and delight. 

Joe Sasto

Sometimes, the things you dislike slowly become what you love most — at least that was the case for Joe Sasto. "I was one of the annoying sons that was like, 'I don't want pasta. I want tacos. Can we have anything else but pasta?'" he told QB Cucina. "It's funny how the world works because now I make pasta almost every single day and I absolutely love it." His newfound love for the traditional noodle didn't truly take shape until he started working at the renowned, three-Michelin-starred, Quince. It was here that Sasto learned to cut his teeth under the trusted wing of the popular Italian chef, Chef Michael Tusk. According to Sasto, he flourished under Tusk's instruction. 

Now that he's learned the rules, Sasto's having one heck of a time breaking them. Take his charcoal cappellotti pasta, for example. While there are traditional undertones present, Sasto's unique spin on color, artful presentation, and flavor combinations would take any Italian for a spin. Despite the playful concoctions, he has great respect for the traditions, lessons, and recipes he's learned. He's just finding ways to make pasta his own, Sasto-style.

Urs Bratschi

When you take into consideration the obstacles Urs Bratschi faces every time he enters the kitchen to create beautifully intricate pillows of ravioli, you'll quickly recognize that he's taking the art of pasta to a new level. Despite struggling with Parkinson's disease, Bratschi makes his pasta with unmatched precision. He even credits the disease for giving him the inspiration to practice the art, telling Parkinson's Art, "The illness also gave me an extreme boost in motivation ... It could be that without this disease I wouldn't be doing any art in the form of pasta today." 

Italian chef Raffi DiMeglio recognized Bratschi's talent, noting his unique approach. "I've seen that he makes highly artistic preparations ... [he's] a person who has special gifts, ideas," he told Feeding The Impression. It may also be surprising to learn that Bratschi isn't a chef by trade. He didn't get his hands deep in the dough at culinary school or learn under any acclaimed chefs. Bratschi's interest in the arts started when he was young, and he simply saw ravioli as the perfect, empty canvas. Now, that canvas is expanding to colorful, plump tortellini, rolls of rigatoni, and more.

Laurie Boucher

For Laurie Boucher, a Southern cook, Sundays were pasta days where she grew up. Despite the weekly communion, the experience wasn't what initially inspired her to make the jump hands first into making pasta art. Following several family illnesses and a 27-year career as an attorney, Boucher recognized that she needed to scale back, she said on the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast. She needed something she could just stop, drop, and let go of at the drop of the hat. So, she decided to switch gears, enroll in culinary school, and start making pasta by hand. Little did Boucher know, it'd be the start of something quite beautiful. 

"Nothing captivates me like pasta. I love the simplicity of ingredients ... the meditative process of having my hands in the dough," Boucher told Old Line Plate. Her methodical creations are noticeable on her Instagram. They're up close, personal, and sometimes even so detailed you can see the remnants of a fingerprint on the rise of tortellini. 

Aside from being a meditative practice, pasta-making is also a form of community for Boucher. For many, the term Instagram can be synonymous with influencers and marketing, but to Boucher, it's an honest means of connecting with like-minded pasta-lovers. Today, you'll find her sharing sneak peeks, recipes, and even tips with other pasta-curious viewers on the platform.

Not Your Nonna's Pasta

At Not Your Nonna's Pasta, there's something exciting happening, and if you happen to live in Chicago? Well, consider yourself (and your stomach) lucky. The pasta Not Your Nonna's makes isn't just artistic, it's small-batch, artisan, and made to order. Every ingredient used in their small bundles is local, farm-fresh, and dependent on mother nature. According to its website, the goal of the company is to create a product that gives customers a "restaurant-quality experience in the comfort of their own homes." So, who's exactly the mastermind behind the business? It's Chef Amelia Miller. Her introduction to pasta is one many millennials would probably relate to.

According to Here Here Market, Miller discovered cooking when she moved away from home. Eventually, she figured it was time to expand her food recipes beyond the pre-packaged variety, so she pursued a formal education at Kendall College's Culinary Arts program.

After flourishing in an internship at Michelin-starred Sepia, she felt as if Not Your Nonna's Pasta was the next natural next step forward. "The industry is essentially a rag-tag pirate ship of people who come together, and we can all express our personalities and creativity together," she told Here Here Market. Miller's always had a soft spot for the noodle. She had been making pasta for years, and when she saw there was a lack of businesses serving market-fresh artisan pasta, she decided to jump in, hands packed with flour.

Pasta Grannies

The pasta they make doesn't have rainbows or a million little ornate creases. The noodles that the Pasta Grannies make may not initially excite your eyes with color, but what these grannies (and grandpas) are doing is worth watching. Vicky Bennison is the creator of this collection of videos of pasta-makers around the world. She has recorded more than 250 women and men tossing dough, flour, and cheese together on wooden tables. The stories she captures are homey, earthy, and simple. They're simple testaments to the true, artisan beauty of where pasta art started and where it's going. 

In the videos, we see folding, kneading, crisscrossing, and scoring of the dough. We also hear stories from the chefs, who are 90 years old, on average. In homes across Italy and beyond, grandmothers are carrying on the ritual of handmade, artisan pasta, a disappearing custom of Italian life.

Pasta Grannies isn't just for wholesome reminders of the traditional art; it's keeping it truly alive and giving much-needed comfort for many. Bennison said she never really imagined it would take off as it has. "I keep thinking, 'Don't die before I get to you,'" she told The New York Times.