spoons with raw pasta noodles

What Are The Different Pasta Shapes?

Pasta is a staple food in cultures around the world. It is a significant part of Italian cuisine, lifestyle, and culture. Over 600 different shapes and sizes of pasta were created over time, each with its own unique purpose. Nico Ristorante, like many other Italian restaurants, offers a variety of pasta dishes using different shapes. Here are a few popular pasta shapes you should know about to make an informed decision next time you dine at an Italian restaurant! 


The Italians first introduced rigatoni in the 1900s. The name comes from an Italian word meaning “ridged”, which is fitting for this pasta’s shape. This pasta forms a large tube shape with ridges along the edge, which creates divots to capture sauce in every bite. Rigatoni is commonly used with heavy red or cream sauces to soup up the sauce more efficiently. Here at Nico, you will find a delicious rigatoni vodka pasta dish with sweet Italian sausage and ricotta cheese. 


Ravioli, one of the more unique shapes of pasta, was created in the 14th- century. This pasta’s purpose was to be a “pocket” for rich fillings. You will find ravioli in several shapes, such as squares or circles. It is an egg-based pasta that can be filled with cheese, meat, vegetables, or a combination of the three. Sticking to our Boston roots, Nico’s menu features a lobster ravioli served with tomato sauce. 


Spaghetti may be a simple shape, but it has made the most significant impact on the pasta world. Believe it or not, this pasta shape actually originated from China and was brought to Italy later on. This long, thin pasta is twirled and slurped all over the world. You will commonly find spaghetti with a simple red meat sauce. Nico Ristorante utilizes this pasta shape in an egg-based carbonara dish with peas, scallions, and breadcrumbs. 


Linguine was slightly later to the pasta party, first created in the 1700s. This pasta shape is similar to spaghetti but flattened slightly. The wider strands allow for a different texture and more surface area to soup up the sauce! Seafood pasta dishes typically use a flatter pasta shape like linguine. If you love seafood, try Nico’s linguine scampi dish with jumbo shrimp, wine, and red pepper.

Dine With us at Nico 

Find all of these pasta shapes and more when you dine with us at Nico Ristorante in the North End. Call us at 617-742-0404 to make a reservation or visit our website today!

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