Williams-Sonoma Imperia pasta maker - bad quality control

by Jim Nieberding
(Point Of Rocks, MD)


Hey everyone!

After making my first batch of pasta and cutting it by hand, I almost bought an Imperia knock-off at Bed Bath and Beyond, but decided on the "better" Imperia brand based on this site's review as well as others.

I think I might have been just fine saving 30 bucks and getting the knock-off. The best price I found on an Imperia (at a real store, not the internet) was $65; the BB&B copycat machine was only $35.

I was disappointed to discover that my Imperia did not come with the sheet cutter or the cleaning brush - a little disappointing, but certainly not a deal killer.

Although the machine itself is very solid, (the main unit is made of heavy gauge stamped steel and the mechanisms have a good industrial feel to them), the feeder tray for the main rollers is flimsy thin steel and is held on by a skinny folded-over flap and relies on gravity to remain in place.

This works magnificently well as long as you don't move the machine, blow on it, walk heavily near it, look at it funny, or, God forbid, actually use the machine. That blasted little shelf will fall off repeatedly from the slightest provocation and drive you absolutely nuts while you're attempting to feed your pasta through it.

Amazingly, it is still slightly easier than not using the shelf, and you'll never get your pasta this thin and uniform with just a rolling pin. I am seriously considering tack-welding the thing to the main body permanently.

The critical flaw in my machine was the crank handle: right out of the box mine wouldn't even fit in the slots for the mechanisms. The handle is made from cheap die-cast and electroplated metal and there was so much excess material on the ridges (leftover from the casting process) that it actually would not fit in the keyway for the pasta cutting mechanism. I had to use a bench grinder to remove enough metal from the ridges on the shaft before I could even use the machine! This is completely inexcusable when there are cheaper machines on the market.

If I hadn't already driven halfway across the county to get this machine, I'd have taken it straight back to the store!

Who knows? Maybe I got the last one off the assembly line from a Friday before a 3-day weekend? If you decide to get an Imperia pasta maker, I strongly suggest you actually go to a store, open the box and make sure the machine fits together the way it should before you hand over the cash.

However, while the feeder tray and the handle are borderline junk, everything else about the machine is spot on: the rollers are precise, the cutters are splendid, and fresh pasta is spectacular compared to the boxed stuff.

Thanks a million to the organizer of this website! Making my own pasta has been a rewarding experience and I highly appreciate all the time and effort you have invested to bring your experiences to the masses!

Comments for Williams-Sonoma Imperia pasta maker - bad quality control

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Curious... some questions for you Jim
by: Matt - Pasta Recipes Made Easy

Hi Jim,

Thanks very much for your long and highly entertaining comment - you have a fantastic turn of phrase sir :-)

A couple of questions about your machine if you don't mind, as I was really surprised you had such a bad time with it. (I'm also quite the budding consumer detective, and I maybe sniff something strange going on here!)

I was surprised to hear firstly that it didn't include the cleaning brush or sheet cutter. It was my understanding that these were always supplied with the machine in its Imperia box. Indeed the box's inner cardboard sections are designed with them also in mind. So...

- Re: the cleaning brush and sheet cutter, did the machine come in an Imperia-branded box as shown on my SP150 review page? (I ask because the firm's US partner Villaware sometimes sells these machines under its own brand, so maybe these feature different things in the box.)

- Do you mind telling me which store you bought your machine from?

- Is the from plate of your machine branded Imperia?

- I'm very confused about the tray. I wasn't aware the normal Imperia SP150 manual machine ever came with a tray. I thought that was only the expensive restaurant version, as found on Amazon.com. Is there any chance you got this one by mistake?

Sorry if these Qs are a bit patronising, but I'd really like to understand what the score is with your own machine so people reading this can make an informed buying decision.

Thanks Jim!

Feedback
by: Jim

Hi Matt!

Hey, thanks for the compliment and highly personal response!

I made fresh pasta for the first time ever a month ago, largely based on info from your site. I rolled and cut the dough by hand and it was GREAT. I was hooked, so I started shopping the machines. You made it easy by doing all the research. I did a little on my own but quickly found all the same info that was on your website. I'm a scientist and know: it's all about the data!

I tried to make the review funny because I didn't want to be the one spoil sport at the party: my experience seems so unique! Seriously, I think I got the last machine off the conveyor belt on a Friday when everyone was already looking forward to the first nice cold Peroni!

Now that I re-read my own comments, I don't think I was positive enough - because the problem with the handle and the tray aside, the machine really kicks ass. $65 clams is not high for such a tool - we foodies routinely pay well over a hundred for a single Chef's knife. Sure it's a one trick pony, but it does that trick extremely well compared to what's possible without it.

I also have a feeling that the feeder tray issues will diminish with experience - I need to find a method of feeding the dough with consistent downward pressure - as long as there's some weight holding the tray down it's got a death grip on the machine. The thing is, the tray is so light that, without something holding it down, it falls off with the slightest provocation. When I was flattening my pasta, the dough kept catching on the back ridge of the tray, popping it off and leading to a lot of noise pollution from the chef. :)

The handle thing was annoying, but once that molding flash was ground off it works just fine.

My machine is definitely an Imperia ? it came in an Imperia box with an Imperia instruction book and Imperia?s logo is stamped all over the thing. I bought it at the Williams-Sonoma Store in White Flint mall in Bethesda, MD. I can't remember if the guide tray has any logos on it. I think it's perfectly smooth.

Your questions about the two models on Amazon made me think of something. I'm not sure this machine is a bona-fide SP150.

I double-checked the Williams-Sonoma site. They don't list a model number but brag that this Imperia machine is a Williams-Sonoma "exclusive". See http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/cw372/?pkey=x|4|1||4|pasta%20machine||0&cm_src=SCH.

Just like the pic, mine's also red and snazzy looking; I think it impressed the in-laws as much as the pasta! I would posit the hypothesis that the Williams Sonoma edition is an SP-150, but lacks the lasagna cutter and brush while adding the feeder tray and red paint job.

I wonder if I can talk my wifey into pasta again tonight? Cheers!

A final conclusion then?
by: Matt - Pasta Recipes Made Easy

Thanks for your response Jim. It seems like the Williams-Sonoma model you have is probably produced exclusively for their store by Imperia. So the boxed version you took home - without the brush but with the tray - is a little different to Imperia's off-the-shelf SP150.

Of course your machine's red color is really rather cool, but I just can't get my head around the tray. When I make fresh pasta, I always roll the dough ball once or twice with a rolling pin to thin it, then I simply feed it into the machine's main rollers by simply dangling it in there.

This seems to work fine and the pressure you mention is pretty even too? I'd imagine moreso than having the dough sat on a horizontal tray. You can see what I mean in the SP150 video I made here. No tray in sight!

;-)

In conclusion, if you can live with steely silver rather than red, maybe this non-Williams-Sonoma SP150 is still the preferred 'real deal' buy then.

Either way, thanks again Jim - I'm delighted I helped convert you into a fresh pasta addict!

Matt.

Imperia SP150 Redesign
by: NiGHTS

I received an Imperia for Christmas, and encountered the same missing items, as noted by Jim (below).

The box didn't include a sheet cutter or brush, but I did get the loading tray. However, I didn't buy the Williams Sonoma version. Mine came from cookware.com, and is listed as an Imperia SP150.

I also noticed that the front of the rolling portion of the machine is different. Instead of flat, angular faces, the front now has a curved structure, and the logo is different (The Imperia logo is in lower case, and inside an oval). The instruction manual, however, shows the angled face version.

I have checked everywhere on the machine and box for a part number, but can't find anything. On another web site (http://www.cerinicoffee.com/Imperia_pasta_maker.asp) they're selling a "redesigned" SP 150. So I'm wondering if Imperia did a facelift on the 150, and doesn't provide the cutter and brush anymore.

Does anyone have any info on this?

Oh, THAT'S what the tray is for!
by: Kathleen

Thank you Jim and Nights for describing the parts you received in the Imperia box. I did not receive the Williams-Sonoma version.

I also received mine for Christmas and used it for the first time last night. I had no idea what the tray was for. In fact, that is how I found this site - searching the web for what this part could be...

I suspected it was to feed the dough sheet in; but I could not figure out how to attach it. The included manual makes no mention of the part.

Thank you Jim, for explaining this exercise in futility. I might wrestle with the part next time; but I also agree, it's just as easy to feed in the dough by hand and my mother's pasta maker never had the tray.

Mine also did not come with the brush or cutter; but then those parts weren't in the advertisement so I didn't know that they had ever been included. I ended up using a paper towel and a wooden toothpick to clean the base and the rollers.

Thank you Matt for the videos and tips. Even though I ended up with yummy pasta last night; my technique definitely requires improvement. The toothpick was necessary to clean the angel hair attachment after I gummed up the rollers and was left with a mass of squiggly and smushed threads on the table.

Information requested...
by: Matt - Pasta Recipes Made Easy

Hi NiGHTS/Kathleen,

I have sent a link to this thread and a list of questions to a couple of Imperia representatives I know. I'll be sure to post any information I receive here, so that we can all understand the situation with these machines and parts a little better.

Thanks for your thoughts!

Matt.

Feedback direct from Imperia
by: Matt - Pasta Recipes

Hello again,

Here is the information Imperia's representative has provided, regarding the various questions above:

Question: Regarding Jim's 'Feedback' post (above), is it correct that this Williams-Sonoma product was supplied without a lasagna cutter or brush, but with a feeder tray?

Imperia response: You can obtain lasagna sheets using the normal roller (no cutter needs to be used) - see picture.

The brush is supplied with the ravioli attachment only. And yes, the feeder tray is supplied with this machine.

Question: Regarding Kathleen's 'Oh, THAT'S what the tray is for!' post (above), do you have any advice or documentation on how to use this tray? Also, is it correct that this product is supplied without a lasagna cutter or brush?

Imperia response: The tray helps to feed pasta in the rollers.

The cutting roller and the small brush are not supplied with the Imperia machine itself, but with the separately-available ravioli attachment.

Question: Regarding NiGHTS' 'Imperia SP150 Redesign' post (above), did Imperia carry out a facelift of the 150, and do you not provide the cutter and brush anymore. Also, the same question re: cutters and brushes not being supplied with store or retailer-associated machines... thank you.

Imperia response: The machine from cerinicoffee.com is supplied with 2 cutters as usual - it is the same machine as in the picture (above).

(Re: the cutter and brush question, see Imperia's answer above - Matt)

Do let me know if you found this Imperia info useful folks!

Matt.

Imperia SP150 metal feeder tray
by: Craig

Jim,

I have just bought the SP150 and struggled with the metal tray. Eventually I found the metal lip fits perfectly between the static roller and its covering plate and lays parallel to your worktop. Please ignore if you've already worked this out.

Craig

Tray talk
by: Greg s

On mine the tray seems to have the notch on the wrong side. Does any one have any photos of the tray being assembled?

I think the manufacturers have gotten lazy assuming that every one in their market learned how to use this device from their mother. Now they have non-Italians learning to use their machine and the cracks show in the manual.

I am sure the Italians throw the tray away.

Imperia 150 handle
by: trout

I just purchased an Imperia 150 pasta maker (silver) and used it for the first time.

The wooden portion of the handle kept falling off of the outside of the handle.

So not only does the handle itself occasionally fall out of the machine during use, but the wooden dowel is also falling off. I expected that part to be fixed to the handle.

Any thoughts? Should I get a replacement?

Trout.

Take that bad boy back...
by: Matt - Pasta Recipes Made Easy

Hey Trout,

The wooden handle coming off is certainly not par for the course, so I suggest you take your machine back and get it replaced.

Matt.

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