shapes such as curly , swirly , circle or ball , each with their own special flavor profile, culinary application and even regional origin. But how did actually came to be?-who doesn’t love it? When many of us think of , we typically think of the more popular styles such as , or linguine, but there are actually dozens of different
Food that is made of flour and eggs or water and molded into strings or other shapes, a.k.a. noodles, has been around for millennia. In one of the most popular theories of how came to be in Italy, it is said that Marco Polo, the famous Venetian explorer, brought the noodles he found from China to Italy.
This was during the 13th century and the documentation historians refer to is in his renowned book The Travels of Marco Polo . For many, this is how in Italy came to be. Unfortunately, all these stories about the famous explorer bringing to Italy relies heavily on retelling because his book’s original text has long been lost.
However, some historians believe that many shapes of in Italy has been around way longer than that. According to some, when the Greeks founded the city of Naples around the 3rd century BC, the natives in the area already had a called “macaria” made of flour made of barley and water that was dried in the sun. And there was even a mention of a -like called “laganum” or “laganas,” a known predecessor of lasagna. The Roman politician Cicero, who lived from 106 to 43 BC, mentioned he had a passion for said .
Many archaeologists also believe that the earliest were actually created in Central Asia, thousands of years before Marco Polo ever came to the region. And that it traveled westward from there by way of nomadic Arab tribes to Europe. Whichever of the stories may be true, the facts are these: is one of the most beloved food in the world today, and it is indistinguishable from .
Now that we’ve taken a peek on some of the theories behind the origin of , let’s get to to good part, shall we? Below is an extensive list of the many different shapes commonly used in kitchens all over the world, along with some key facts about each one. Enjoy! Or check out our selection of if you feel hungry right now or learn how to make from scratch.
If you can imagine a thicker version of with a hole running through the middle, that would be bucatini. In fact, the name of this is derived from the Italian “buco,” which means “hole.” Bucatini originated in the Italian regions of Naples, Liguria and Lazio, and is typically served with savory items such as pancetta, guanciale (a cured ) in the traditional bucatini all amatriciana recipe , , eggs, anchovies, and sardines, and with a buttery .
features a small cylindrical shape, and is one of the 10 most popular shapes in the world in terms of consumption volume. Born in Sicily and perfected all over Italy, is often stuffed with various fillings (e.g., spinach and ricotta) and served in a variety of tomato-based like all’arrabbiata , or cream-based sauces like alla vodka , or vegetables like in our alla campagnola recipe or in a veggie .
Scialatelli is similar to fettucine and/or linguine in appearance, but with a shorter length. It originated on ‘s Amalfi coast, and is commonly served with various types of fish and seafood sauces.
One of the popular shapes, it comes in long, flat, ribbon-like strips, and is historically from the Marche and Emilia-Romagna regions of Italy. It is very easy to make with the help of a good maker . It is commonly served with pork or beef, as well as ragu alla bolognese
Caserecce is a native of Sicily, but its popularity soon spread throughout the various regions of central and . It features a twisted shape that is rolled into somewhat of an “S” shape, and is commonly served with eggplants, ricotta and seafood.
Mafalda originated in the Molise region in Italy, and is reportedly named after Queen Malfada di Savoia, which is why the alternate name for this is reginette (Italian for “little queen”). This is cut into flat, long strips and features wavy or ruffled edges, and is often served with Italian sausage or ricotta .
Known as malloreddus in their native land of Sardinia, gnocchetti sardi is a that features a small, compact shape, almost like tiny clamshells. They are often served with , like this malloreddus with pork shoulder recipe , or sauces.
The exact origin of this popular is somewhat hard to nail down because it has been around since the days of the Roman Empire, but it was definitely popularized in Italy. Gnocchi is a type of dough dumpling that is cut into pieces about the size of a small cork, and it often features potatoes, spinach, ricotta, eggs, like this gorgonzola gnocchi recipe or simply pan fried with butter and sage.
Perhaps one of the most commonly used pastas in the world, reportedly originated in China, and was imported to Venice by way of the popular merchant traveler Marco Polo. noodles are very long, thin and round-shaped, and are commonly served with a wide variety of sauces, meats and vegetables, including marinara , meatballs and mushrooms. One of the most famous dishes with this type of is alla carbonara.
Sagne torte is a spiral-shaped that originated in Puglia, Italy, and is commonly served with a variety of mixed sauces. One of the most traditional recipe is sagne e fagioli from the Abruzzo region.
This highly popular style originated in the regions of Calabria and Campania, and features a large tubular shape, almost like slices of a garden hose. They are commonly used in based recipes, like this paccheri with ragù napoletano recipe , seafood recipes or any type of with heavy garlic accents.
Originating from Naples, tortiglioni features a tubular design with small ridges that run in a slightly diagonal direction down the length of the tube. This not only makes it a beauty to look at, but it serves a great functional purpose as well, as tortiglioni is a perfect match to hold full-bodied sauces of all kinds.
Rigatoni is a large, tubular shape with vertical ridges that run lengthwise down the tube. It is slightly larger than , and is often served with ragu, as well as a variety of light and heavy sauces like this rigatoni in salsa rosa recipe .
Originally hailing from Naples, ditalini literally means “small thimbles” in Italian, and it’s easy to see why when you look at the shape of this . It is cut into tubes that are comparable to the size of a kernel of corn, and it is often called “short ” due to its smaller size. Ditalini is commonly served with ricotta or broccoli, and is great for use in soups.
Also known as , soups, or tossed with or vegetable sauces like in , maccheroni is perhaps one of the most popular styles in the world. It originated in northern and central Italy, and it features a small, slightly curved, tubular shape that makes it very versatile. Maccheroni is commonly used in alla norma
This long, thin, elliptical, ribbon-like originated in the Liguria and Genoa regions of Italy. It is very commonly used in combination with seafood and clam , as well as a variety of red sauces such as arrabbiata or marinara . Nonna Box even recently featured a Tuscan version of it enhanced by truffle!
Born in the Province of Siena, Italy, pici is a hand-rolled that looks like a fat version of . It is commonly eaten with ragu, garlic ( pici all’aglione ), porcini mushrooms, and a variety of game (e.g., wild boar, duck, hare, etc.).
The origin of this uber-popular is somewhat obscure, but legend has it that the Lombardy region played a big role in spreading its popularity. It is a square shaped with ruffled edges, and is often stuffed with various fillings including , and vegetables as well as shellfish like in this lobster ravioli recipe .
Originating from the Emilia region of Italy (specifically Modena and Bologna), tortellini are a somewhat ring-shaped that is often stuffed with a combination of (prosciutto, pork, etc.) and/or .
Perhaps one of the most whimsically shaped pastas on the list, capricci comes from Puglia, Italy, and features irregular shapes similar to ocean coral. Capricci is often eaten with thick or thin sauces.
This long, thick, corkscrew-shaped originally hails from the Campania region, and is most commonly served with and .
With a centuries-old history rooted in Italy, canule is a long, somewhat thin corkscrew-shaped that is perfect for serving with thin or thick sauces.
Brought to Italy by way of the Middle East, this small is similar to , only with a more curved shape and featuring fine ridges. Its rounded shape gives it a snail-like appearance, which is why it is called chiocciole (Italian for “snail”). Chiocciole is perfect for use in soups, or with light or heavy sauces.
These short-cut tubes of are about 3/8 of an inch long, and originate from Sicily. Ditali is commonly used in soups as well as salads.
The word ” ziti ” actually means “fiancee” in Italian, because this is traditionally served at Italian weddings. It’s a medium-sized that often functions as a main ingredient in baked casserole dishes (e.g., “baked ziti” ), being commonly combined with , , sausage, peppers, mushrooms, onions, etc.
Born in the Puglia region of Italy, fricelli features a rolled tubular shape, and has the consistency of a dumpling. It is typically served with fried eggplant and tomatoes, or with various creamy sauces.
Originally from Italy’s Puglia region, orecchiette is a small ear-shaped that is usually served with rapini or broccoli, and is also a favorite to use with tomato or and ricotta . In fact, Nonna Box’s Puglia box included this special , along with a traditional recipe from Nonna Ripalta.
The region of origin for stelline is somewhat of a hotly debated topic, but suffice it to say that stelline has its roots in Italy. This tiny star-shaped is a preferred choice for use in soups.
Hailing from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, passatelli is a slender with an appearance similar to rice noodles, only a little thicker. It is comprised of eggs, bread crumbs and grated Parmesan ,and is usually cooked in chicken broth like this passatelli in brodo recipe.
Mezze is slightly shorter and more slender than regular , but it does feature the same ridges. It is enjoyed throughout the regions of northern Italy as well as Campagnia, and is traditionally paired with , or the spicier arrabbiata .
Famously known as Garfield’s favorite , lasagna originated in Naples, and features a long, flat, rectangular shape with wavy edges. It is most commonly enjoyed as a baked casserole made with layers of lasagna interspersed with various sauces, cheeses and other ingredients. Here’s a step by step recipe for how to make lasagna the traditional way.
Croxetti originated in the northern Italian region of Liguria, and is shaped to mimic a medallion, often stamped by hand (or machine) to depict intricate designs or patterns. They are customarily served with simple sauces such as meat, mushroom, pesto, fish, or light cream. Nonna Box recently included this relatively unknown pasta in the Liguria box, which also came with a recipe from Nonna Anna Maria that called for the pretty discs to be tastily dressed in the box’s jar of pesto in this recipe.
From the Italian meaning “little worm,” vermicelli has a shape very similar to , but could be thicker or thinner depending upon where it is produced. As with other , it is commonly served with a wide variety of sauces, both thick and thin.
Hailing from the Piedmont region of Italy, this square-shaped typically measures one inch on each side. Like other filled , it is commonly stuffed with or vegetables.
Similar to tortellini but larger, tortelloni was reportedly born in the region of Emilia, and has a dumpling-style consistency. Tortelloni is most often stuffed with ricotta and various leafy vegetables such as spinach, like in this tortelloni with spinach and ricotta .
Originating in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, this square-shaped is very similar to ravioli, and is typically stuffed with , or mushrooms. Tortelli is also often served with bolognese or melted butter and sage.
Derived from the Italian language meaning “little cat whiskers,” filini definitely has a shape that is similar to its namesake, being very small and thin. It is most commonly associated with Italy’s Puglia region, and is typically added to soups as a thickening agent.
These small, thin rings of have been immortalized in foods such as -O’s, but anelli has a history that goes back far beyond the days of Chef Boyardee. Originating in Sicily, anelli is most often enjoyed in soups and salads.
This is basically a smaller version of anelli, being about one-fourth of its size. Also hailing from Sicily, anellini is most commonly used in soups, salads, and in combination with ragu or in a timballo .
This long, thick, tubular, has Venetian roots, and is commonly made from buckwheat or whole . Bigoli is typically enjoyed with various thick or sauces, with one of the most popular being duck ragu.
Common to the Emilia-Romagna, Umbria, Marche, and Tuscany regions of Italy, strozzapreti is a hand-rolled that is similar to cavatelli due to its hot dog-bun shape, but it is slightly more elongated, and features a light twist. It is commonly served with cream or sauces but sometimes you’ll find them with a seafood like this Strozzapreti Recipe with Squid and , especially near the coasts.
Similar to but with a flatter, slightly convex cross-section, bavette comes from Genoa, and is typically served with traditional pesto sauces, or with vegetables.
Rooted in the regions of Liguria, Marche and Emilia-Romagna, tagliolini is a long, ribbon-like that is similar to , and measures about a quarter of an inch wide. Tagliolini is typically served with various sauces, with one of the most popular being bolognese .
The Lombardy region in northern Italy lays claim to the origin of pizzoccheri , which is a flat, short, ribbon-like whole . Among the most unique , it is most typically used in preparations that include greens, potatoes and – a wildly popular recipe that Nonna Carla shared in the Lombardy Nonna Box (and which made use of the box’s batch of pizzocheri!) – here’s the commonly made from a combination of buckwheat and traditional recipe for pizzoccheri alla Valtellinese .
Abruzzo, Italy, is the place of origin for this particular , which has a shape similar to but with a flatter cross-section. What makes it special – and gives it its name – is that it’s made using a musical-like instrument called a chitarra (meaning guitar), which must be strummed to release the freshly cut strands. alla chitarra can be served with a wide variety of and cream sauces, and can tasted in the Abruzzo Nonna Box.
Taglierini is another name for tagliolini (described above). It should be noted that taglierini is often served with butter and truffles (a recipe known as tajarin ), or with a roasted .
Trenette is a dried, narrow, flat that is commonly associated with the regions of Liguria and Genoa in Italy. It is often served with a pesto in a traditional preparation known as trenette al pesto .
Reportedly first created in Naples, Italy, by the famed chef Nicola Federico, cannelloni is a tube-like or cylindrical that usually measures three to four inches in length, and is often stuffed with a , , vegetable or fish filling.
Born in the south of Italy and named after the Italian language for “corkscrew,” cavatappi is a hollow, spiral-shaped that measures about one inch in length, and sometimes features ridges or grooves on its surface. The famous brand Barilla calls this shape Cellentani in honor of a famous Italian singer of the 1960s, Celentano. Cavatappi is typically served in tomato-based sauces, and is often paired with cheeses such as provolone, mozzarella and Parmesan, or serve it with our summery caprese recipe.
Made from a flat, square that has been rolled into a tubular shape, garganelli has its roots in the Romagna region of Italy, and is known for its distinctive grooves that are formed by rolling the tubes over a wooden comb. Garganelli is frequently enjoyed served al prosciutto e piselli – that is, in a that features a mixture of onions, peas, and salt-cured ham.
Cavatelli is named for the Italian verb cavare , which means “to hollow out or carve,” and that’s exactly what this of southern Italian origin looks like-a small, hollowed-out shell, similar to a hot dog bun. One of the tastiest , cavatelli is most commonly enjoyed in combination with ricotta and , or with the very famous recipe for cavatelli and broccoli.
This small, seashell-shaped shapes in the region because it is specifically designed to hold more . Common applications for conchiglie include pastas, soups and casseroles, like in this originates from Italy, and is one of the most popular Stuffed Shells Recipe with Ricotta, Prosciutto And Peas.
Originating from Italy’s Puglia region, foglie d’ulivo is a type of that is handmade to resemble the shape of olive leaves. It is typically served with a creamy olive , or with basil.
Similar to other such as chiocciole, lumache are small, snail-shaped shells that typically feature one crimped end to better hold the . They find their roots in Sicily, and are usually enjoyed with slightly heavier, chunkier sauces.
This hollow from north-central Italy also features a curved shape that resembles a snail shell, but with a flattened opening at one end. Pipe pairs well with , vegetable or cream sauces.
One of many unique , this fun wagon wheel-shaped originated in northern Italy, and is commonly used in dishes with either a tomato-based or cream-based . There has been some slight confusion over the difference between rotelle and rotini , as several brands produce corkscrew-shaped named rotelle, but the actual rotelle is shaped like wagon wheels.
Hailing from Liguria in northern Italy, trofie is a thin, short, twisted that is typically rolled by hand into interesting squiggly shapes. The traditional Liguran application for trofie is to serve it with a basil pesto , but it is also commonly enjoyed with light as well.
This Sardinian-born is similar to Israeli couscous in size and shape, and is comprised of semolina dough that has been rolled into small balls that are roughly 2-3mm in diameter. Fregola is commonly prepared with clams and , a recipe from Nonna Antonia, which was included in the Sardinia Nonna Box, along with some fregola, of course!
Reportedly born in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, this small, flat often comes in a square or triangular shape, and is most commonly used in thin broth soups.
Originating from the ancient town of Modena in Italy, cappelletti translates to “little hat” in Italian, and its shape definitely takes on this resemblance. As a dumpling-style , cappelletti is stuffed with , and is typically served in a rich chicken or capon broth.
Believed to originate from Sicily, fagottini is Italian for “little bundles,” which is an apt description of this randomly shaped . Fagottini is typically stuffed with vegetables such as green beans, carrots and onions, as well as olive oil.
Meaning “half-moons” in Italian, mezzelune is that is semi-circular in shape. It originated in Tyrol, an autonomous region of northern Italy, and is typically stuffed with Bitto , eggs, milk, and white pepper. Mezzelune is normally served with a comprised of porcini mushrooms, white wine and sweet butter.
Unlike most other shapes, Spatzle originated with the Swabian people of southwestern Germany. It is an egg-based that is typically round in shape, but it can be irregularly shaped when handmade. Simply comprised of eggs, flour and salt, spatzle is often served as a side with butter, or topped with gravy or .
If you were to cut off the angled edges of , you would basically have sedani . Although its origins are unknown, it is reasonable to assume that it originated as an offshoot of the Sicilian-born . Sedani is commonly served with , but it is also a favorite when served plain with or butter.
Hailing from the central-southern region of Tuscany in Italy, pappardelle is flat, ribbon-style that is cut into a very broad shape, not unlike wide . Pappardelle is among the that is an excellent match for a wide range of sauces, from to shellfish to vegetables, or in this pappardelle recipe with artichokes, fava beans and prosciutto.
This highly popular has somewhat enigmatic origins, because it goes by many different names in various regions of Italy, however it seems that is mostly used in Rome. It is a long, flat, ribbon-like with a decent thickness, typically measuring 10 inches long and about 1/4 of an inch wide. is used in all kinds of culinary applications, here’s a recipe with cherry tomatoes and bell peppers , but is most commonly known outside of Italy for its use with creamy Alfredo .
This of Italian origin is tubular in shape, and is cut short and bent into a curl. Torchietti is most often paired with bolognese or sausage sauces.
If you can imagine a smaller, thinner version of , that’s basically what spaghettini is. Among the many shapes and a native of Italy as well, spaghettini falls somewhere between and vermicelli on the thickness scale, and is commonly served with tomato-based or olive oil-based sauces.
This thick, ring-shaped hails from Naples, and is commonly confused with calamari rings due to its similar appearance. Calamarata belongs to the Paccheri family due to its tubular shape, and it pairs very well with heavy cream sauces or seafood .
Tonnarelli is known to some as the square . For many, however, it is perhaps more aptly known as the Roman version of alla chitarra from the Abruzzo region. After all, tonnarelli can be made pretty much the same way as you would alla chitarra . That is, you use the same dough recipe, roll the dough sheet about the same thickness, and cut the dough using a tool with strings called a chitarra . Interestingly, you may also use a striated rolling pin for cutting the dough and it will pretty much give you the same results. So technically, tonnarelli and alla chitarra are basically the same , only with different names, depending on where you are. If you’re in Abruzzo, you call it alla chitarra , but if you’re in Roma, you call it tonnarelli.
Literally meaning “peppercorns” in English, acini di pepe may look like couscous, but it’s actually a type of that just look like tiny grains. In fact, some people call them pastina , which means “tiny dough”. It is usually cooked like grains but its is only 4 to 9 minutes. It is commonly used for soups and salads, and it is often the preferred ingredient for Italian Wedding soup.
Capelli d’angelo, a.k.a. angel hair, is a type of string like . Unlike , however, it’s commonly very thin, around 0.031 to 0.035 inches in diameter. It is often used for soups and seafood dishes, or with light sauces. Its is around 2 to 4 minutes and is often sold in coils that look like bird’s nest. It is one of the classic shapes and has been a popular in the Italian peninsula since the 14th century.
A slightly thicker than angel hair, cappellini is often mistaken for angel hair. This is probably because they’re both thin, delicate string pastas that are often used in soups or with light sauces. Despite the similarities, however, cappellini is actually considered a different . Its diameter usually measures between 0.033 and 0.036 inches, and its is around 2 to 6 minutes.
Filei calabresi, or simply filei, is a type of short spiral that has a hollow part in the middle. The shape is usually made by rolling irregularly shaped pieces of dough using a thin knitting needle, making a hollow part in the middle. It is often compared to busiate, but they don’t actually look the same. Busiate is clearly spiral-shaped while filei is more like a narrow and more elongated version of cavatelli. Also, busiate is typical of the city of Trapani in Sicily while filei is typical of the Calabria region.
Orzo is actually the for “barley” and because of this, many people mistake this for the actual grain. To add more confusion to mix, this shape resembles large grains of rice, which also looks a bit similar to barley grains. This is probably why (perhaps to lessen some of the confusion) this shape also goes by another name, which is risoni, meaning “big rice” in Italian.
Orzo is not typical to a specific Italian region and is most often used for salads, soups, and baked casseroles. One of the popular Italian dishes you may find orzo in is minestrone.
An that literally means “tiny dough” or “little “, pastina is a variety that consists of tiny pieces that may resemble grains but could actually be any shape. As a matter of fact, acini di pepe is also called pastina by some. Pastina is made of and sometimes, also eggs. The typical size for each piece is usually a quarter of an inch or smaller. Some of the most common pastina shapes are tiny stars, shells, tubes, and . Much like orzo, pastina is most often used in soups and salads.
Other names for pastina are pastini and pastine.
A typical of the Apulia and Basilicata regions, troccoli is a type of string like . However, its cross-section is shaped either like an oval or square, like alla chitarra . In fact, it has often been compared to alla chitarra . This is not only because of its shape, but also because of the tool used to make them.
Troccoli is made using a striated rolling pin called a troccolo or a troccolaturo . alla chitarra , on the other hand, is made using a special wooden board with strings called a chitarra . However, since the square troccoli looks pretty much like alla chitarra , you can probably use either tools to make either of the two pastas. Just remember that if you’re in Abruzzo, it’s alla chitarra , but if you’re in Apulia or Basilicata, it’s troccoli.
It’s a type of durum and water, just like most in the south of Italy. The ‘s name comes from the word “busa”, which is a thin stick from a type of grass that grows in dry sandy soil. Makers of busiate in the past turn the dough into corkscrew shapes using the “busa” stick. Today, many use a special metal wire or a knitting needle to make them. that can only usually be found in Trapani, which is an area in Western Sicily. It is made of
Dried busiate is also available in the market but most families in Sicily prefer using the fresh ones, which are often homemade. Busiate is best used with the famous pesto alla Trapanese , as well as fish-based sauces, which is quite popular in seafood-rich island of Sicily.
Here’s another variation of the classic lasagne. Prepared with spinach, which is added when the dough is being made , lasagne verdi are traditionally prepared and served with ragú alla Bolognese, but more recently they can be found in vegetable based lasagnas as well. They are usually found in the Emilia-Romagna region.
Originating from Sicily, spaccatelle is not widely used in other parts of Italy. It is a short Norma or seafood. with a spaccatura , or split, down the center and is commonly served with vegetable sauces like alla
Campanelle means “bellflowers” or “little bells,” and true to its name, this is a bell-shaped with fluted, petal-like edges. With a hollow center perfect for holding , this shape pairs well with thick, chunky sauces.
Known as “ , but with a smooth texture instead of ridges. Mostaccioli is best served with fresh, light sauces or in casseroles, called al forno in Italian. lisce” in Italy, Mostaccioli originate from the Campania region. It has a tube shape with angled ends like the more well-known
Gemelli, Italian for “twins,” is a short made up of two strands of twisted together. This versatile works well in salads, casseroles, or light tomato, oil, or dairy-based sauces.
Radiatori is a small with textured, wavy lines that make it look like a radiator. Its size and texture make it perfect for , soups, salads, and casseroles.
Casoncelli come from the town of Bergamo in Lombardy, a region of Northern Italy. This large filled casoncelli alla Bergamasca recipe.
is typically made with fresh dough folded over or a mixture of , , raisins, or other ingredients and pressed together to resemble wrapped candy. It is usually topped with a simple of melted butter, pancetta, and sage leaves in the