11 Lesser-Known Italian Pasta Shapes That You Need to Know About

While not as commonly known as orecchiette, tortellini, or rotini, these pasta shapes should be on your radar.

Chitarra pasta

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Italy is remarkably small when you consider just how many shapes of pasta thrive within it. 

At roughly 75% the size of California, the country contains dozens of regional dialects and indigenous languages, several millennia of art and architecture, and a staggering number of regional food traditions, some of which you’ll only find in a single village. The variety of pasta types alone is enough to inspire a pilgrimage based solely upon pasta consumption, exploring all shapes and sizes. Even within a category, there’s variation: There are countless regional types of gnocchi, from Sardinian gnochetti to 'ndunderi, the ricotta and pecorino cheese gnocchi you’ll find on the Amalfi coast (per usual, the Pasta Grannies have a fantastic recipe for it). As one Italian friend told me, “Italy is an incessant festival of carbs.” 

From decadent, ravioli-like casoncell in the north to the twisted sagne of Salento, these regional pasta shapes are among the most memorable delicacies you’ll find in Italy. Make it your life’s mission to eat them all – you won’t regret it. 


Bigoli pasta

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Found in the Veneto and Lombardia regions of Italy, bigoli is a long, thick strand pasta that’s often made of buckwheat or whole wheat flour. A staple in Venetian cooking and one of Italy’s most ancient pastas, it makes its most famous appearance in “bigoli in salsa,” for which the strands are coated in a sardine, onion, and bread crumb sauce. 


These short, flat buckwheat noodles are popular in Northern Italy’s Lombardia region. You’ll often spot them cooked with cabbage, potatoes, and lots of butter (as we’ve done here), and they’re most famous in the Valtellina valley, which has been making pizzocheri since the 18th century, not too far from the Swiss border. 


Capunti pasta

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Employing both semolina flour and delicate Type "OO" flour, capunti is a fresh handmade pasta popular in Italy’s Apulia region (the heel of the boot). As we noted in our recipe for it, “The divots in the pasta make this shape especially good at catching sauce,” so go wild. 


If you love ziti, you’ll love zitoni, because essentially a wider, longer ziti. The tubular pasta, also known as cannaroni, is especially popular in Sicily and Naples. 


Casoncelli pasta

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This fresh, egg-dough stuffed pasta is a delicacy in Lombardia and should be known around the world. It’s like a more delicate ravioli, often filled with a cheese and beef mixture (or spinach and raisins) and served in a sage-infused butter sauce. 


Tria is a dried, short pasta popular in Italy’s Apulia region, particularly in the city of Lecce. One of its most famous preparations is in ciceri and tria, a regional version of pasta and chickpeas 


Sheets of fresh pasta are cut into handkerchief-like shapes. In our recipe from chef Tim Cushman, we fill them with ricotta and serve them with pesto and marinara sauce.  

Sagne ‘Ncannulate

“It’s one of the best shape in Salento,” my friend from Apulia told me recently. Growing up, “when we had to celebrate something, we made sagne.” The fresh pasta, which resembles long, twisted ribbons, is often served with tomato sauce. 


Busiate pasta

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“Named for the reedy stalks of grass that were first used to shape this pasta,” we wrote in 2022, busiate “are easy to make with a little practice—and a chopstick.” We like to serve these hand-rolled noodles with a hearty pork ragù. 

Taccozze Molisane 

These small, dried sheets are typical of the Molise region (and you’ll also find versions in Abruzzo.) 


Chitarra pasta

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The first time I had this thin, long noodle, whose name literally means “guitar,” was at Le Virtù in Philadelphia, a restaurant featuring the cooking of Abruzzo. Coated in ragu del macellaio, a “butcher’s sauce” of tomato, sausage, and pork rib, the dish stars in many of my dreams.

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