Dining at an Italian restaurant, you’ll likely find a number of pastas to choose from. Although each kind is equally delicious, they have some differences. Here are some of the most common types you would find at a pasta restaurant – and what’s unique about them.
Spaghetti (meaning “length of cord” or “twine”)
Perhaps one of the most common types of pasta found in an Italian restaurant is spaghetti. Spaghetti comes in a thin, long, cylindrical form, which makes it pair well with nearly any sauce – and meatballs of course! You might notice a pasta restaurant will pair spaghetti with olive oil based sauces, as they allow an even coating.
Ravioli (meaning “to wrap”)
Ravioli has a long history, with the earliest records of the pasta appearing in the letters of 14th century Prato merchant, Francesco di Marco. Ravioli are a type of pasta that consists of a filling (often in an Italian restaurant will be meat, vegetables or cheese) between two layers of dough. Many cultures have a similar dough-filled dish i.e. dumplings, perogies, kreplach, etc.
Fettuccine (meaning “little ribbons)
Due to fettuccine’s long ribbon-like nature, it pairs will with a wide range of sauces. In a pasta restaurant, one is likely to find fettuccine paired with cream-based sauces, such as alfredo.
Penne (meaning “quills” or “feathers)
Penne is said to have originated in Campania, a region in southern Italy. The name comes from the Italian word for “pen,” in reference to the angled tube ends, which are similar to a quill pen tip. In a pasta restaurant, you will often find tubed pastas, such as penne, paired with thick sauces. An Italian restaurant might pair them because their thick and hollow nature helps support these sauces and ensures a more even distribution of sauce.
Fusilli (meaning “spindle” or “twisted spaghetti”)
You will often find fusilli (a versatile, spiral shaped pasta) on the menu at a pasta restaurant. Fusilli’s corkscrew nature helps lock in sauce, which is why it can be paired with both light and heavy sauces. In an Italian restaurant you may also see it in various forms such as salads and soups. Fusilli is also one of the largest exported Italian pastas.
Linguine (meaning “little tongues”)
The linguine shape is said to have originated in Genoa and the Liguria regions of Italy. Due to its long flat shape, a pasta restaurant might pair linguine noodles with a wide arrange of sauces. However, in an Italian restaurant you will often find linguine paired with seafood or pesto dishes.