Whether you’re sitting at a restaurant or perusing the aisles at your local grocery store, selecting a type of Italian pasta can be a challenge. More often than not, you probably just pick something familiar without giving it much thought. The truth is, though, different types of pasta are meant to be used in different dishes; they are intended to hold sauces in specific ways or pair perfectly with various vegetables from a texture perspective.
In this post, we’ve brought you the essential guide to Italian pasta shapes. Many of these varieties can be found on the Strega by Nick Varano menu, so you’ll have the opportunity to try them all as you continue to dine with us. We hope you enjoy learning more about Italy’s pasta!
–Long and skinny – Long, thin Italian noodles are common in the United States. This category includes the ever-popular spaghetti and linguine and the lesser-known vermicelli and bucatini. Although Americans most commonly pair spaghetti (and spaghetti-like noodles) with tomato-based meat sauce, these types of pasta are best served with light seafood sauces or oil-based sauces, such as pesto.
–Filled noodles – Filled pasta styles include tortellini, ravioli, and agnolotti. These noodles can contain anything from cheese to meat to spinach; the choice is yours. Traditionally, filled pasta is made by hand, but there are also premade options available to today’s grocery shoppers. In conventional Italian cooking, these rather heavy filled pasta shapes are served with light oil-based or butter-based sauces.
–Tube shaped – Tube pasta styles, such as penne, macaroni, and rigatoni, are extremely popular in the United States. These familiar kinds of pasta can be used in a wide variety of dishes, but are traditionally served with hearty sauces, such as vegetable-laden tomato sauces or Bolognese.
–Mini varieties – Some types of Italian pasta are quite small. Among these are orzo, risi, quadrettini, and fregola. These are the perfect complement to soups, like minestrone, and pasta salads. Because of their miniature design, these pasta shapes are not as filling as some other options and are great for lighter dishes.
At Strega by Nick Varano, we offer a variety of pasta dishes, all featuring house-made noodles. If you are curious about a specific menu option, don’t hesitate to ask any member of our waitstaff to learn more. We believe it’s important for all of our patrons to understand the authentic Italian cuisine we serve to Bostonians every day. The more you know about how Italy really eats, the more you will enjoy your meals with us!