Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Many Shapes of Pasta

You’ve had baked Ziti and pasta bolognese, maybe traditional tonnarelli in cacio e pepe. You can probably even name a dozen different types of pasta. But we’re betting you’d be surprised to learn there are literally hundreds of pasta types and shapes (and they’re all delicious). Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about the many shapes of pasta.

Classifying Pasta

The roughly 350 different types of pasta can be broadly sorted into four categories:

  • Long: Tagliatelle, linguine, angel hair, fettuccine, capellini, etc.
  • Short: Cavatappi, conchiglie, festoni, farfalle, fusilli, gnocchi, etc.
  • Soup: Anelli, ditali, orzo, etc.
  • Stuffed: Cannelloni, angoletti, ravioli, tortellini, sacchetti, etc.

Some pasta shapes can be sorted into multiple categories, and variations in shapes and regional practices mean there’s a lot of overlap. Really, all of these pasta shapes exist because they elevate individual sauces and dishes with their unique textures. In Italian cooking, the way a pasta holds the sauce is critical. A thick, flavorful sauce needs a pasta that’s just as robust, with deep grooves for holding the sauce. A more delicate sauce pairs well with a thin, ribbon-like pasta.

It’s not just texture – flavors must be considered in choosing the right pasta. A chef will always consider how a sauce will “cling” to the pasta, as well as the dish as a whole. Soup and stuffed dishes call for specific types of pasta, but again, there are lots of options in those categories.

At La Famiglia in Reno, our fresh new menu showcases the best of Italian pasta. We invite you to make reservations now so you can come in and sample our handmade pastas in all their delightful shapes. We look forward to seeing you soon!

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