The world of Italian cuisine is not always easy to understand. With many different types of pasta, terms, and pasta recipes, it’s hard to decipher. Before you can go into an authentic Italian restaurant prepared to choose a menu item, it’s important to have a little bit more understanding. This is a glossary of a few of the most common types of pasta and pasta related terms, but the list could go on forever!
Al dente refers to the preferred cooking method of most pasta. Al dente pasta is firm, but not hard. Pasta that is overcooked becomes too mushy to hold sauces well, so al dente is the preferred method.
Al Forno literally means baked in Italian, referring to baked pasta dishes. Lasagna, manicotti, and stuffed shells are some of the most common al Forno dishes.
Farfalle pasta has roots as far back as the 1500s. Farfalle means butterfly in Italian, although American’s think the pasta looks more like a bowtie. This is made from rectangular pieces of pasta that are pinched in the middle. This pasta is best served with light sauces.
This pasta is made by cutting flat pasta into ribbon shaped pieces. It originated in Rome but has been an Italian tradition for quite some time. These flat noodles catch sauce well and are traditionally paired with a white, creamy sauce. Fettucine alfredo is the most commonly known example.
Traditionally called Linguine in Italian culture, the name of this dish is commonly Americanized to linguini. This pasta is often called flat spaghetti because that’s exactly what it is! Traditionally served with a white or red clam sauce, these flat noodles are versatile enough to be used in almost any dish.
This means “sleeves” in Italian and manicotti is a dish that features long, tube-shaped noodles. The noodles are stuffed with meat, cheese, and seafood mixture before being topped with a traditional Italian sauce and baked in the oven.
If you want to try out these traditional Italian pasta dishes and more, make a reservation at Nico Ristorante. Using only the freshest ingredients and authentic cooking methods, this is the closest you can get to Italian cooking without going to Italy! We have a variety of dishes featuring different types of sauces, meats, seafood, and more. Pair with high-quality wine to create the best dining experience possible.