Potato pasta sounds strange, so it's no wonder that it's called something interesting like gnocchi. You can read the word 'gnocchi' and get away with sounding it out however you please, but how should you say it when you order it at a restaurant? Just point to the dish on the menu? The way you pronounce it may have a lot to do from where you're from, which is why the proper pronunciation is often debated. You can hear an Italian say nyohk-kee or nyuh-kee, and an American say noh-kee or nyawk-kee...does anyone really know how to pronounce gnocchi?

History Lesson

candy, sweet, pastry, ravioli, cookie
Caty Schnack

The word gnocchi in Italian likely comes from the term nocca, meaning "knuckle." Gnocchi is named for its shape, and it is traditionally made by rolling a piece of dough against a textured wood board. It's simply named and simply made, too. The basic ingredients include water, potato flour, and breadcrumbs or eggs mixed together into a dough. Other variations of the dish may include milk, ground almonds, ricotta, and corn meal.

Italian 101

Abigail Shipps

Gnocchi can be found all over the world in many forms, but it is most often associated with Italy. Every region has its own unique gnocchi recipe. In Rome, for example, a traditional gnocchi dish is gnocchi alla Romana, which is a baked (rather than boiled) pasta dish stuffed with cheese, butter, and milk. Similar to crepes and a little black dress, gnocchi is a staple to any Italian menu. In addition, it can be dressed up or down—you can find plain gnocchi on the kids menu or seasonal butternut squash gnocchi.

How to Pronounce Gnocchi

dough, flour, gnocchi, cookie, pastry, bread, sweet
Felice Segall

Just like every region in Italy has its own unique gnocchi recipe, each region of Italy has its own variation of sounding out g-n-o-c-c-h-i. It's like having a Southern accent versus a Midwestern accent. Some roll the "gno-" off the roof of the mouth, resulting in a "nyo" pronunctiation. Others simply say "no," which in my opinion is much less exciting. The second half of the word,         "-cchi," is consistently pronounced like "key." So, the real aspect of pronunciation that's up for debate is the first half of the word, a simple three letters. 

The Italian language is one of the romance languages, which is associated with passion, rich culture, and suave. The underlying suave and smooth sound of Italian is why pronouncing "gnocchi" with a fancy "nyo" sound seems most fitting. Not only is it interesting to hear, it makes you sound like a pasta connoisseur. Repeat after me: nyoh-kee. Don't believe me? The Oxford English dictionary supports this pronunciation as well. 

There are numerous answers to the question of how to pronounce gnocchi, but the one that seems the most interesting and true to the Italian language is the pronunctiation with a rolling "nyoh" sound. There is a wide spectrum of accents throughout the world, even just in Italy alone, so it is unfair to say that there is just one right way to say it. However, if you're stuck asking yourself how to tell the waiter you want the small pasta rolls made with potato flour, I suggest nyoh-kee.