Though it’s often listed as the only choice in recipes, Arborio isn’t the only rice you can use to make authentic risotto. Vialone Nano, Baldo, and Carnaroli rices are other I talian short-grain varieties that make terrific risotto, and in some parts of Italy, they’re preferred over Arborio. After trying each of them, I’ve come to adore Carnaroli. It’s a smaller grain than Arborio with a super-high starch content, which means that it can absorb huge amounts of liquid without overcooking, so it gives you the ultra-creamy yet toothsome texture that is the hallmark of a superior risotto.
The Principato di Lucedio estate near Turin, Italy, produces and exports all these rice varieties to North America. I suggest you experiment with them to find your favorite. Call 877-337-2491 or order online at www.chefshop.com. All varieties come in 1.1-pound bags. Carnaroli is $6, Vialone Nano is $5.25, and Baldo is $4.50 (plus shipping).