Pasta can be fresh or dried, made with or without eggs. The dough may be rolled and cut (by hand or machine) or extruded through dies. Shapes can be long or short, and different types call for different sauces.
Handmade stuffed pastas in less conventional shapes and sizes than ravioli and agnolotti are called tortelli, or tortelloni. A fluffy ricotta filling is perfect for the extra-tender pasta.
Bucatini are thick spaghetti pierced down the middle by a narrow hole, which allows water to penetrate to the core so the pasta will cook evenly. In Rome, bucatini are almost always served all’amatriciana or alla gricia.
Cappelletti means “little hats.” The pasta dough is a bit more robust, and the exact composition of the meat filling varies. Today they are usually found only in broth.
Penne are probably Rome’s most popular all-purpose dried short pasta, often tossed with vegetable-based sauces such as broccolo romanesco, asparagus or artichokes.
Rigatoni are characterized by a large hole, a half inch or more in diameter. Relatively thick and sturdy, they take about twice as long to cook as spaghetti, and they’re well suited to sauces that combine sauces and liquid.
Spaghetti are nothing more than strings of hard-wheat flour and water, and they are at their best with oil-based or thin sauces that easily coat the long strands.