While supermarkets do a remarkably good job of stocking various noodle shapes, most restaurants serve a pretty narrow range of pastas. Beyond Italian restaurants that have made a specialty of pasta, noodle geometry is largely limited to macaroni, linguine and penne.
That's a shame, because there are so many great shapes that would complement the meats, seafoods and sauces that non-Italian restaurants like to pair with pasta. Here, a list of our five favorite (and underrated) noodle varieties:
Bucatini's basically a spaghetti straw, so the sauce ends up in the pasta as well as on it. It's the perfect noodle for spicy, aggressive sauces.
Unlike bucatini, there's nothing utilitarian about noodles shaped like letters (unless, of course, you're learning to spell.) Still, the variety - which dates back more than 50 years - is great fun.
So pretty. Conical campenelle noodles look like little seashells, and are a wonderful match for buttery, cheesy sauces.
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This rustic ribbon of pasta deserves to be celebrated for its name alone: strozzapreti translates as "priest choker," perhaps because priests liked the shape so much they choked on it - or so the anti-clerics hoped.
Far more elegant than the typical pasta shell, rocchetti's ridges add a lovely texture to any dish, but the pasta's especially good in baked casseroles.