The ultimate guide to Italian Pasta dishes: know what to order by region (2023)

Top 25 delicious Italian pasta dishes you should taste, beyond Spaghetti Bolognese,described by by region with pictures and map

What is the most popular and famous Italian pasta dish? What are the traditional Italian pasta dishes one must absolutely try? What is the name of the traditional pasta dish I want to order?

These are very common questions, and this post is aimed at giving an answer to them, in an easy and funny way.

The ultimate guide to Italian Pasta dishes: know what to order by region (1)

Buon appetito!

Pizzoccheri della Valtellina

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Pizzoccheri are a type of short tagliatelle, a flat ribbon pasta, made with 80% buckwheat flour and 20% wheat flour. When classically prepared in Valtellina, they are cooked along with cabbage and cubed potatoes. This mixture is layered with pieces of Valtellina Casera cheese and ground Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano, and dressed with garlic lightly fried in butter.

Spatzle tirolesi

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Spätzle are egg-based pasta made with fresh egg of an irregular form with a rough, porous surface. The glutinous dough is put directly into boiling water or steam and the form varies between thin and thick, elongated and short. They are the only pasta that is cooked for the first time during the fabrication.

They can be served as a side dish of as a main course, cooked with cream and ham.

Agnolotti del plin

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Agnolotti is a type of pasta typical of the Piedmont region of Italy, made with small pieces of flattened pasta dough, folded over a filling of roasted meat or vegetables.

Typically, they are dressed with beef broth and a little melted butter or in a fresh sage and melted butter sauce.

Tortelli di zucca

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The tortelli di zucca (Pumpkin tortelli) are a type of stuffed pasta, similar to ravioli, native to northern Italy.

Pumpkin tortelli consist of egg-shaped puff pastry wraps, usually rectangular in shape, about 60 x 35 mm in size, filled with a mixture of baked or boiled pumkin, amaretti, mostarda, grana cheese and nutmeg.

The traditional condiment of pumpkin tortelli is made of melted butter, slightly darkened and flavored with sage, poured directly into the plate and added with plenty of grated parmesan cheese.

Bigoli in salsa

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Bigoli in salsa is a Venetian pasta dish made with whole-wheat bigoli pasta, onion and salt-cured fish. While today usually anchovy is used, in earlier days it was often prepared with sardines. It is considered one of the signature dishes of Venice.

Trenette al pesto

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Trenette al pesto (or even linguine with pesto) is a type of pasta typical of Ligurian cuisine.

The ingredients of this recipe are long pasta, trenette or linguine, and pesto. On top of pasta and pesto, the traditional recipe adds boiled green beans and potatoes cut into pieces

Lasagne alla bolognese

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Lasagne is a type of wide, flat pasta, typical of Bologna. Lasagne commonly refers to a culinary dish made with stacked layers of pasta alternated with sauces and ingredients such as meats, vegetables and cheese, and sometimes topped with melted grated cheese.

The cooked lasagne are assembled with the other ingredients and then baked in an oven. The resulting lasagne casserole is cut into single-serving square portions.

Tagliatelle al ragù

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Bolognese sauce known in Italian as ragù alla Bolognese is a meat-based sauce originating from Bologna, Italy, hence the name. In Italian cuisine, it is customarily used to dress tagliatelle al ragù and to prepare lasagne alla bolognese.

By the way: spaghetti Bolognese are not the real stuff, but just a tourist trap!

Pappardelle al cinghiale

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Pappardelle are large, very broad, flat pasta noodles, similar to wide fettuccine

Pappardelle al cinghiale (wild boar sauce Tagliatelle) is a typical dish of the Maremma Grossetana, Maremma Laziale and Alta Tuscia, lands rich in game, which has also spread to the rest of Tuscany, Umbria and inland areas of the Marche region.

Bucatini all’amatriciana

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Sugo or salsa all’amatriciana is a traditional Italian pasta sauce based on guanciale (cured pork cheek), pecorino cheese from Amatrice, tomato, and, in some variations, onion. Originating from the town of Amatrice (in the mountainous Province of Rieti of Lazio region), the Amatriciana is one of the best known pasta sauces in Roman and Italian cuisine.

Spaghetti alla carbonara

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Carbonara is an Italian pasta dish from Rome made with egg, hard cheese, guanciale (or pancetta), and pepper.

The recipe is not fixed by a specific type of hard cheese or pasta. The cheese is usually Pecorino Romano. Spaghetti is the usual pasta, however, fettuccine, rigatoni, linguine, or bucatini are also used. In the traditional recipe, only guanciale can be used, even though pancetta, easier to find, is commonly used as well.

Pasta alla carbonara is unrecorded before the Second World War. It was then described as a Roman dish, when many Italians were eating eggs and bacon supplied by troops from the United States.

Tonnarelli cacio e pepe

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Cacio e Pepe is a pasta dish from Roman cuisine. “Cacio e Pepe” means “cheese and pepper” in several central Italian dialects. As the name suggests, the ingredients of the dish are very simple and include only black pepper, Pecorino Romano cheese, and pasta.

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When preparing the dish some of the hot cooking water is left with the pasta: the heat melts the cheese, while the starches in the water help bind the pepper and cheese to the pasta. Cacio e pepe is typically made with long, thin spaghetti, such as tonnarelli or vermicelli.

Cavatelli al sugo di maiale

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The cavatelli are a traditional pasta from Molise, subsequently acquired by parts of Puglia and Abbruzzo.

They are made from a mixture of wheat and water and have an elongated shape with a hollow inside.They are seasoned with a tomatoes sauce where pork chops have been cooked

Spaghetti aglio e olio

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Spaghetti aglio e olio (“spaghetti with garlic and oil” in Italian) is a traditional Italian pasta dish coming from Naples and one of the simplest pasta recipes.

The dish is made by lightly frying sliced, minced, or pressed garlic in olive oil, sometimes with the addition of dried red chili flakes, and tossing with spaghetti. Finely chopped parsley can also be added as a garnish, along with grated parmesan or pecorino cheese, although according to some traditional recipes, cheese should not be added.

Linguine allo scoglio

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Spaghetti allo scoglio is an Italian first course, based on spaghetti and seafood such as mollusks (mussels and clams) and shellfish (shrimps or prawns), typical of the Campania cuisine.

Spaghetti with seafood can be presented in two versions: with or without tomato. Best recipes use just a little bit of cherry tomatoes.

Orecchiette alle cime di rapa

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Orecchiette alle cime di rapa are a variety of pasta typical of Apulia, a region of southern Italy. Their name comes from their shape, which resembles a small ear.

The traditional dish from Apulia is orecchiette alle cime di rapa (turnip greens), although broccoli are also widely used as an alternative.

Spaghetti alle vongole

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Spaghetti alle vongole, Italian for spaghetti with clams, is a very popular dish throughout Italy, especially in Campania (where it is part of traditional Neapolitan cuisine).

Italians prepare this dish two ways: in bianco, i.e., with oil, garlic, parsley, and sometimes a splash of white wine; and in rosso, like the former but with tomatoes and fresh basil, the addition of tomatoes being more frequent in the south.

Strascinati con mollica e peperoni cruschi

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Strascinati are a kind of orecchiette, but larger. They are traditionally cooked with bread crumbles and dried peppers.

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Ciceri e tria

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Ciceri e Tria is a pasta dish in Italian cuisine that originated from Arabs who once ruled in Apulia. It is a part of the cuisine in the Salento region of Italy. It is prepared with pasta and chickpeas as primary ingredients, and includes fried pasta.

It has been described as a “classic and emblematic dish of Salentine cuisine” and as a specialty dish of Apulia.

Pasta e alici

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Southern Italy pasta dish where alici (anchovies) are fried in oil olive oil and garlic, and served topped with fried bread crumbles. Spaghetti are the typical pasta used for this tasty dish.

Pasta coi sardi

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Pasta con le sarde is a Sicilian dish of pasta with sardines and anchovies. It is most associated with Sicily’s capital Palermo, but it can be found all over the island.

The principal ingredients are olive oil, onions, pasta and a finely chopped mixture of sardines and anchovy.

Pasta alla Norma

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Pasta alla Norma is a pasta dish in Sicilian cuisine created originally in Catania.

It is made with tomatoes, fried or sauteed eggplants, grated salted ricotta cheese, and basil. It is supposedly named after the opera Norma by the Catania-born composer Vincenzo Bellini.

Spaghetti al nero di Seppia

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Very original dish, where cuttlefish sauce is supplemented by the cuttlefish ink, hence the astonishing black color of the pasta. It is served with spaghetti and can be found not only in Sicily but also in Venice, where is a fairly traditional dish.

Culurgionis d’Ogliastra

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The culurgiònes are the classic Sardinia ravioli. Also known as angiulottus, ie agnolotti, they are based on potatoes, pecorino, onions and mint are a culinary specialty typical of the barbaricina area of ​​Ogliastra. In the rest of the island there are different recipes , like that of Gallura, which aromatizes the product with lemon or orange peel.

Fregola ai frutti di mare

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Fregula (often Italianized as fregola) is a type of pasta from Sardinia. It is similar to North African Berkoukes and Israeli ptitim. Fregula comes in varying sizes, but typically consists of semolino dough that has been rolled into balls 2–3 mm in diameter and toasted in an oven.[1]

The typical preparation of fregula is to simmer it in a tomato-based sauce with clams.

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Fettucine Alfredo

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Whatever you may think, this is not a typical Italian dish!

Fettuccine Alfredo is a pasta dish made from fettuccine tossed with Parmesan cheese and butter. As the cheese melts, it emulsifies the liquids to form a smooth and rich sauce coating the pasta. In other words, it is a version of pasta with butter and Parmesan cheese (Italian: pasta al burro e parmigiano).

Alfredo di Lelio gave it this name at his restaurants in Rome, in the early to mid 20th century, where the “ceremony” of preparing it tableside was an integral part of the dish. You can still eat fettucine Alfredo in the original Roman restaurant in via della Scrofa, but it’s hardly the only place where you can eat them in Italy!

Enjoy your Italian pasta dishes. Buon appetito!

Credits to www.tasteatlas.com for the Italian Pasta dishes map and to Wikipedia for inspiration on most of the Italian pasta dish description.

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Related

FAQs

Which region in Italy is best for pasta? ›

Lazio. Many of the most famous pasta dishes of Italy are from the Lazio region around Rome, and one of these world-renowned dishes is carbonara.

How do pastas served in northern Italy different from southern Italy? ›

In the North of Italy, pasta has a large surface area and is often served with butter and Alpine cheese. Conversely, in the South of Italy, pasta is ridged and is served with tomatoes, seafood, or meat.

What are the four main pasta dishes in Italy? ›

Gricia, Carbonara, Cacio e Pepe, and Amatriciana are all simple pastas that share the same big flavors of Pecorino-Romano, black pepper, and—in three of the dishes—cured pork. Italians (myself included) are passionate people, especially when it comes to food.

What is the best Italian region? ›

Tuscany. Quite possibly Italy's most famous region, Tuscany offers a little bit of everything – from small farm towns to big cities, from seaside coasts to rolling hills.

Do all regions of Italy eat pasta? ›

Although there are many types of pasta that are eaten in many or all the Italian regions, a lot originated in a particular region and then became popular in other parts of the peninsula, whilst others are only found in one or a few regions.

Which region of Italy does penne pasta come from? ›

Penne is a type of pasta with a short, tubular shape. Originally from Genoa in the Liguria region of Italy, a defining characteristic of penne is its ends, which pasta makers cut at a dramatic angle, so each tip comes to a point. The word “penne” is Italian for “quill,” a nod to its pointed tips.

What do you call the pasta that is commonly used in the regions of Italy for feast days? ›

The Southern Italian regions tend to eat handmade fusilli noodles on Sundays or during a holiday feast with meat or sausage ragù. Northern Italians often dine on factory-made fusilli noodles with pasta salads or light, creamy sauces.

What region of Italy is known for spaghetti? ›

EMILIA ROMAGNA

This city has been nicknamed La Grassa (the fat lady) because of just how much outstanding food is on offer here, including the iconic ragu pasta dish known as spaghetti bolognese.

What is the best region for food in Italy? ›

Italy's best cities for food
  1. Florence. Best for steak. ...
  2. Venice. Best for cicchetti. ...
  3. Naples. Best for pasta fritters. ...
  4. Rome. Best for carbonara. ...
  5. Milan. Best for risotto. ...
  6. Bologna. Best for lambrusco. ...
  7. Genoa. Best for farinata. ...
  8. Parma. Best for ham.
May 4, 2022

What is Italy's number 1 pasta? ›

1) Barilla Pasta

Top of the list there's Barilla. The company was founded by Pietro Barilla in 1877 as a bakery in Parma, Italy. The company keeps being run by his descendants: the three brothers Guido, Luca and Paolo Barilla.

What part of Italy is the home of pasta? ›

The meeting point between the north and the south, central Italy produces pasta that is made with either flour and eggs or flour and water. Diversity can be seen the most here and pasta recipes vary greatly.

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