Pasta has a place in many cuisines, but it particularly shines in Italian food. Over centuries, cooks have perfected the art of cooking pasta in a variety of shapes and styles to suit a vast number of dishes. The next time you're craving an Italian meal, keep these popular styles in mind.

Common Pasta Shapes to Try

1. Spaghetti

The most basic and popular style of pasta is this thin cylindrical strand. Spaghetti is best paired with sweet tomato sauces or cooked fresh and served with minimal toppings, such as garlic and oil or fresh pesto. It can also serve as a vehicle for more elaborate dishes, such as spaghetti vongole—a Venetian dish with clams.

2. Fusilli

Fusilli, the Italian word for "spindles," is a pasta shape made by twisting flat strips of dough around a thin rod, resulting in a corkscrew shape. This is an ideal choice for sauces that include chunks of meat, as sauce and cheese can nestle into the grooves. It can also provide a base for dishes garnished with fresh vegetables, such as crushed raw tomatoes and basil leaves.

3. Farfalle

Italian foodOften called "bowties" in English, the Italian name for this pasta means "butterflies." Like fusilli, it pairs perfectly with thick, coarse sauces that have plenty of chunks. This pasta is also delicious in cool pasta salads, with fresh ingredients like olives, cheese, or fish.

4. Orecchiette

Orecchiette, meaning "little ears" in Italian, is wonderful for thick vegetable sauces with ingredients like raw tomato. It’s also popular in southern Italian food with broccoli and anchovies. The cupped interiors hold little pockets of sauce to deliver lots of flavor in each bite.

5. Canneloni

Like the Italian-American manicotti, cannelloni are thin, tube-shaped noodles that are often baked with cheeses, meats, and sauces stuffed into the middle and spread on top. One popular combination includes spinach, ricotta cheese, and ground beef layered in tomato sauce.


To try a pasta dish in a delicious sauce and warm, friendly atmosphere, visit Emilio’s of Morris Park in the Bronx, NY. This restaurant has used only the freshest ingredients and seasonings in their pizzas, pastas, and other Italian food dishes since opening in 1989. Call (718) 822-6758 to order or make reservations, and visit them online to browse their full menu. For even greater convenience, text "Emilios" to 33733 to download their app and make ordering takeout easy.