Pasta might just be the most recognizable Italian food in the world, and with good reason! It’s healthy and delicious; it can be light and delicate or rich and hearty; it’s readily available and easy to prepare—it’s everything you want in a dinner recipe! For Giada De Laurentiis, pasta has always been one of the great pleasures of the table. Long pastas are the perfect vehicle for a simple pomodoro sauce, chunky Bolognese, or creamy alfredo.
Contrary to popular legend, pasta wasn’t brought to the country from China by Marco Polo. Cut and shaped pasta sheets in the Mediterranean region can be traced all the way back to the Ancient Romans and Greeks, whose laganon is the historic predecessor of the lasagne we love today. Made from an utterly simple dough of flour and water, pasta has long been a staple food for Italian people of all classes, beloved for its inexpensive simplicity and endless versatility.
Every Italian region has its own favorite shape—from ultra-thin capellini to wide pappardelle—and unique preparations that celebrate their local specialties from the earth and sea. And while it’s a lot easier today to find good-quality pasta in many fun shapes here in the U.S. than it used to be, Italian-made pasta is still a cut above in terms of flavor, texture, and variety. Unlike highly processed American brands, Italian pasta makers prize robust, minimally processed semolina flour, creating a more flavorful product. Pasta dough is cut on bronze dies for a delightfully hand-hewn surface that clings to sauce, and finished pastas are air-dried for 24-48 hours to create the perfect al dente texture once cooked.
We’ve done the work to bring you the most traditional, hard-to-find pasta shapes—from old favorites like spaghetti to whimsical fusilli lunghi and beyond—and gluten-free options, too!—from artisan pasta makers across Italy.