Roman Pasta Glossary

Bringing Home Rome, Cook, Learn, Primers, Regional Spotlight

In Rome, pasta is what you eat at mamma’s kitchen table and also what you order at a fancy restaurant. It’s what makes a meal a meal; all pretense collapses before it.

 

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.

Tortelloni 

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 

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 

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.

Maltagliati 

There are two kinds of maltagliati, those cut neatly but on the bias, either manufactured or homemade, and those truer to their name, the scraps of any kind of pasta dough left over after ravioli, fettuccine and lasagna have been cut into their uniform shapes.

 

 

 

 

 

Orecchiette 

These “little ears” are made by rolling and poking. Small handfuls are pulled from a ball of dough and rolled into cylinders, which are cut into small pieces. Each piece is poked with a thumb and drawn against the work surface until concave.

Penne 

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 

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 

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.

 

 

 

 

 


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