Italy is known for its diverse palate and regional cuisine; Italy’s culinary identity isn’t always easy to define. Italy is home to thousands of pasta that vary from region to region. In the world of delicious pasta is overflowing with distinctive varieties, differing in shape and history. There is a life beyond plain spaghetti or ravioli, a whole other realm of pasta shapes exists — many of which we show up on our menu. You can use this guide to help recognize some of the unique pasta shapes.
Gnocchi are small dumplings, the most common of which is classic potato gnocchi, known as Gnocchi di patate. Fully cooked potatoes are mashed and combined with flour to create a dough that’s then formed into little pieces for boiling. After boiling, they transform into light, fluffy pillows. Their shape consists of small squat shells with ripples. There are countless recipes for gnocchi; gnocchi is especially suitable for thick sauces. But they’re also delicious with basil pesto or San Marzano tomato sauce and fresh buffalo mozzarella. Visit Strega by Nick Varano and taste our Gnocchi Pesto or our Gnocchi Sorrentina.
Pappardelle is a flat, long ribbon-shaped pasta. Pappardelle comes from “pappare,” which means “to gobble up.” A simple traditional egg pasta dough made with flour, semolina, and eggs! Pappardelle is commonly served in the winter. The noodles are typically served with meat or ragu sauces. At Strega, we serve our Pappardelle dish is Pappardelle Bolognese served with a ragu of ground tenderloin.
To the untrained eye, Bucatini might get mistaken for spaghetti. Bucatini is thicker than spaghetti with a tiny baby hole that runs through the entire noodle. Bucatini gets coated and filled with sauce. The hollow center gives you more sauce with each bite. Bucatini hollow counterpoint, dense carbohydrates, and air pockets make for delicious pasta. At Strega we love Bucatini, and serve this dish with pancetta, San Marzano tomato sauce, onion, blend of pecorino and Parmigiano cheeses.
Cavatelli is somewhat similar looking to gnocchi. Cavatelli pasta is originally from Molise and Puglia regions. This pasta is popular throughout Southern Italy. Cavatelli is made from three simple ingredients, durum wheat semolina flour, lukewarm water, and just a pinch of salt. Cavatelli has an elongated shape with a hollow cavity formed by pressing the three middle fingers of one hand into each piece of dough to create a hole.
Bigoli is a long thick pasta, originally made with buckwheat flour. Today, it’s typically made with whole wheat, flour, eggs, water or milk, butter, and salt. Fresh bigoli is traditionally made with duck eggs. It has a similar look to spaghetti, but bigoli is quite rough on the outside. The harsh thickness makes it easy for the pasta to hold sauces well. Bigoli originates from the Veneto region.
You now know the other pasta out there besides spaghetti or familiar ravioli. There are many different kinds of Italian pasta to put on your bucket list. Don’t know where to start? Next time you want the taste of Itay’s more traditional pasta, visit us at Strega by Nick Varano.