Ah, Italy. Where the streets are lined with restaurant after restaurant serving up the most delicious pastas known to man. But these typically aren't the traditional pastas we cook up at home in America. In Italy, there are tons of different pasta dishes native to each region, and most of them you've probably never heard of, so trying to choose something from an Italian menu can be quite hard. Here's a run down on some typical pasta varieties of Italian cuisine. Your next step: go out and eat them for yourself! 


spaghetti, pasta, vegetable, macaroni, sauce, tomato
Megan Prendergast

Capellini, which literally translates to "little hairs", is a very thin rod-shaped Italian pasta in the form of long strands. It ranges in diameter from between 0.85 mm and 0.92 mm thick. The pasta is native to Genoa, Ciociaria and territories surrounding Naples. Capellini noodles are typically served with light sauces, including egg based sauces, melted butter, or roasted tomatoes


spaghetti, sauce, pasta, spaghetti carbonara, basil, macaroni, carbohydrate, fettuccine, cheese
Lucy Rubin

This is the type of noodle we all know and love in America. Spaghetti is long, thin (but thicker than capellini), cylindrical, and can be found in long or shorter varieties. In Italy, spaghetti is made from durum wheat semolina and served al dente, meaning it's tougher and chewier than pasta dishes served in American restaurants. It's usually served with fresh, homemade tomato sauce or carbonara, which is prepared with eggs, cheese, bacon, and black pepper.


tortellini, squash, sauce, pasta, cheese, parmesan, tomato
Neelima Agrawal

This stuffed pasta is a favorite here in America as well as in Italy, though it's served in different ways. They are ring shaped and typically stuffed with a meat or cheese mixture. In the Italian region Emilia, where tortellini originated from, the noodles are traditionally served in a broth, either beef, chicken, or both. However, tortellini also pairs well with a cream or tomato-based sauce, and plenty more cheese to top it off with.  

Bucatini (or Perciatelli)

spaghetti, pasta, macaroni, sauce, basil, fettuccine, vegetable, cheese
Jocelyn Hsu

This pasta is a long, thicker spaghetti-like variety, only it has a hole running through the center. It's name is derived from "buco" which means hole, or "perciato" which means pierced. Bucatini is usually 3 mm (1/8 in) in diameter and is common throughout Rome. In Italy it's typically served with buttery sauces, pancetta, cheese, vegetables, eggs, and anchovies or sardines.  

Mafaldine (Reginette)

Reginette (meaning "little queens" in Italian) is a pretty ribbon-shaped pasta that's flat and usually about 1 cm wide, with waved edges. This aesthetically pleasing noodle is typically paired with hearty meat sauces, like bolognese


This noodle from the Emilia-Romagna and Marche regions of Italy are long, flat ribbons similar to that of fettuccine, typically 6.5 mm to 10 mm wide. Tagliatelle is an egg-based pasta, also made with flour, making it have a rough texture perfect for thick sauces. It's also seen served with carbonara, breadcrumbs and nuts, and tomatoes and basil. 


Before coming to Italy I'd never even heard of this noodle, a longer, tubular shaped variety. Maccheroncini is a macaroni-type pasta traditional to Calabrian cuisine and other Southern Italy regions. It matches well with rich sauces made of goat meat, veal, or pork. 


As you may have guessed from it's name, candele noodles are long like a candle, sometimes sold at 2.5 feet, hollow, and tubular. These hefty noodles are typically made with a ragu sauce, aka "gravy" to the Italians. "Gravy" refers to any sauce made with meat, which can be chunky or ground. 


spaghetti, pasta, sauce, shrimp
Jocelyn Hsu

I'm sure you've all heard of this one. Linguine is a flat noodle with a lenticular cross section, about 4mm wide. It's name means "little tongues" in Italian. Linguine noodles originated in Genoa and are usually served with seafood or pesto.


Chifferi is a short and chunky tubular pasta in a semicircular shape. This pasta is typical of Northern and Central Italy. It's often found in soups like minestrone, but is also prepared with light sauces such as tomato or egg and cheese. 


The ditaloni noodle takes on the shape of a thimble: short, round, and hollow. It originated in the Neapolitan region, but is also appreciated in Genoa. Ditaloni comes either scored or plain; the scored variety is ideal for soups and full-bodied sauces. 


This pasta is actually made from the leftovers of dough used in making noodles like tagliatelle. The excess parts of the dough have an irregular shape and thickness and are therefore "poorly cut", which translates to maltagliati in Italian. Therefore, each of these noodles comes in a different size, shape, and thickness. It's classically used in bean soup, as it was favored among those of the lower classes. 


parsley, vegetable, carrot, meat
Emma Danbury

Penne is another popular pasta in America we've all probably enjoyed one way or another. It comes in a cylinder-shape, either smooth ("penne lisce") or with ridges ("penne rigate"). Penne, especially the ridged variety, are ideal for thick, full flavor sauces, as it'll be trapped in penne's nooks and crannies, providing the pasta with huge flavor.


Ricciutelle is a small, ribbon-snapped pasta that's slightly curved along the edges. It also comes in another variety that's in a corkscrew shape. Both pasta types are usually served with either a hearty sauce or within soups. 


This pasta is short, thin, and curly, almost resembling tiny worms (don't let that deter you from eating it though). Gramigna is a type of noodle made with an "extruder", which is a small tool that forms the noodle shape out of dough, usually by a crank. A classic dish from Bologna is gramigna al ragù di salsiccia, gramigna with a ragu sauce made from only sausage, tomatoes, and wine.


"Lumache" is the Italian word for "snail", which is fitting for this particular shell-shaped noodle. They're typically made with durum wheat semolina, giving them an extra dosage of protein. Chunky sauces pair well with lumache's crevices, but thin sauces taste equally as great. 


These noodles take on a super fun shape that please the eye just as much as the mouth. The small pasta is made in the shape of a radiator, with a thick ruffled edge circling the noodle. Radiatori's design maximizes surface area for absorbing flavor and sauces, making them useful in casseroles, salads, and soups, or with a thick sauce. 


vegetable, sauce, tomato, meat, pepper
Meredith Davin

Rigatoni are another popular pasta in America. They are a very large tube-shaped noodle with ridges down the lengths of the outside. The name comes from the Italian word "rigato" which means "ridged". Rigatoni is a favorite pasta in Southern Italy, especially Sicily, where it is prepared with a thick tomato sauce with sausage and peppers


Orecchiette pasta comes from the Italian word "orecchia", meaning "ear", as their small, round shape with a central depression indeed resembles an ear. They are very typical of Apulia, a region of southern Italy, where the traditional dish made from this noodle is orecchiette alle cime di rapa. This is prepared with rapini, a cruciferous vegetable similar to broccoli rabe. Other parts of Italy pair orecchiette with a tomato based sauce, meatballs, or ricotta. 


These noodles are flat and very wide, usually around 2 to 3 centimeters. Pappardelle derives from Tuscany, where it is traditionally paired with a wild boar sauce, pappardelle al cinghiale. If you're not into eating boar, these noodles also pair well with a thick tomato or cream sauce.


fish, meat, parsley, vegetable, seafood
Becca Miller

Ravioli are the Italian equivalent to dumplings, with two thin layers of pasta (usually square) containing a filling of cheese, spinach, or meat. In Rome, the favorite filling is ricotta cheese, spinach, nutmeg, and black pepper. Today, ravioli is made with a variety of different kinds of fillings depending on where you are in the world, including pumpkin.


Trofie are another interesting pasta, from Liguria in Northern Italy. The noodles are short, thin, and twisted, around 2 to 3 centimeters long. It's traditionally served with pesto or other light sauces. 


Cavatelli are another type of shell-shaped pasta, but these are small and twisted, almost resembling a hot dog bun. They are made from eggless semolina dough, but some types have ricotta added to the dough to give additional flavor. In Italy, cavatelli is commonly served with garlic and broccoli.