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

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.

Buon appetito!

Pizzoccheri della Valtellina

Italian pasta dishes - Pizzoccheri
Pizzoccheri – photo credits to www.nonnapaperina.it

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

Italian pasta dishes - Spatzle
Spatzle – photo credits to www.lorenzovinci.it

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

"Italian

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

Italian pasta dishes - Tortelli di Zucca
Tortelli di Zucca – photo credits www.modenatoday.it

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

"Italian

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

Italian pasta dishes - Trenette al Pesto
Trenette al Pesto – photo credits www.buonissimo.org

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

Italian pasta dishes - Lasagne alla Bolognese
Lasagne alla Bolognese – photo credits www.donnamoderna.it

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

Italian pasta dishes - Tagliatelle al ragù
Tagliatelle al ragù – photo credits bologna food guide

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

Italian pasta dishes - pappardelle al cinghiale
Pappardelle al cinghiale – photo credits www.paneacquasale.it

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

Italian pasta dishes - Bucatini all'Amatriciana
Bucatini all’Amatriciana – photo credits www.buonissimo.org

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

Italian pasta dishes - Spaghetti alla Carbonara
Spaghetti alla Carbonara – photo credits www.taste.com.au

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

Italian pasta dishes - Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe
Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe – photo credits www.cookaround.com

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.

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

Italian pasta dishes - Cavatelli al sugo di maiale
Cavatelli al sugo di maiale – photo credits www.cookaround.com

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

"Italian

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

Italian pasta dishes - Linguine allo Scoglio
Linguine allo Scoglio – photo credits www.buonissimo.org

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

"Italian

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

Italian pasta dishes - Spaghetti alle Vongole
Spaghetti alle Vongole – photo credits www.buonissimo.org

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

Italian pasta dishes - Strascinati con Mollica e peperoni cruschi
Strascinati con Mollica e peperoni cruschi – photo credits www.TV2000.it

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

Ciceri e tria

"Italian

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

Italian pasta dishes - Pasta e alici
Pasta e alici – photo credits www.frescopesce.it

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

"Italian

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

"Italian

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

Italian pasta dishes - Spaghetti al nero di seppia
Spaghetti al nero di seppia – photo credits www.giallozafferano.it

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

Italian pasta dishes - Culurgionis d'Ogliastra
Culurgionis d’Ogliastra – photo credits www.dimensionesuonosoft.it

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

Italian pasta dishes - Fregola ai frutti di mare
Fregola ai frutti di mare – photo credits www.gaveena.com

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.

Fettucine Alfredo

Italian pasta dishes - Fettuccine Alfredo
Fettuccine Alfredo – phot credits www.foodnetwork.it

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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