Given that hundreds of kinds of pasta originating in Italy, each paired with specific sauces and often associated with particular regions of Italy, learning (and eating) them all would be quite the task, although a pleasant one, of course! But we can certainly start somewhere! Here's a beginner's guide to some of the most famous Italian pasta types and the sauces that complement them, along with a glimpse into the regions they originate from.
Region: While spaghetti is a staple all over Italy, it is closely associated with Naples in the Campania region.
Sauce Pairing: Spaghetti pairs perfectly with tomato-based pasta sauces like Marinara or Bolognese. Of course, the best spaghetti sauce is made using the highest quality tomatoes, like these. Aglio e Olio (garlic and oil) is also a classic preparation.
Region: Bucatini comes from the Lazio region, with Rome being its most famous home.
Sauce Pairing: Bucatini's hollow center captures thick, rich sauces like Amatriciana or Pasta Carbonara.
Region: Rigatoni is popular throughout Italy but has strong roots in Southern regions like Sicily and Calabria.
Sauce Pairing: The ridges on rigatoni hold chunky sauces like Arrabbiata or Ragù exceptionally well.
Region: Tortellini hails from the Emilia-Romagna region, particularly Bologna.
Sauce Pairing: Tortellini is typically served in a delicate broth or with a creamy sauce like Alfredo.
5. Farfalle (Bowtie Pasta)
Region: Farfalle can be found all over Italy.
Sauce Pairing: Farfalle's shape works well with light, creamy sauces that are often paired with pesto or butter-based.
Region: Penne is popular across Italy but particularly beloved in the Campania region.
Sauce Pairing: Penne's shape makes it suitable for creamy and tomato-based sauces, making it versatile for dishes like Penne alla Vodka or Penne all'Arrabbiata.
Region: Orecchiette is native to Puglia, in Southern Italy.
Sauce Pairing: These "little ears" are perfect for catching chunky vegetable sauces like Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe or Orecchiette with Sausage.
Region: Fettuccine is enjoyed throughout Italy.
Sauce Pairing: Fettuccine's flat, wide shape pairs well with creamy sauces, especially in dishes like Fettuccine Alfredo.
Region: Garganelli originated in Emilia-Romagna
Sauce Pairing: These tubular pasta shapes work wonderfully with rich meat-based sauces or creamy options like Garganelli with Porcini Mushroom Cream Sauce.
Remember that while these pairings are traditional for Italian pasta, there's always room for creativity in the kitchen. Feel free to experiment with different pasta and sauce combinations to find your favorite flavors. Buon appetito!