4 Popular Pasta Noodles and Their History

Ever wonder why pasta noodle look so different? It’s easiest to understand why when you look at how sauces are treated in relation to pasta, especially in Italy. Sauces are traditionally considered a condimento, or condiment. The technical translation actually means seasoning. Once you understand that the sauce isn’t the main focus, you start to realize how important pasta is to a dish. And like so many other cultures, we like to elaborate on the things we do well. Some cultures are known for how they dressed, others by their music. For Italians, we very much pride ourselves on our food. So let’s appreciate the main ingredient with these 4 popular pasta noodles and their histories.

1. Spaghetti

Popular Pasta Noodles - SpaghettiEasily the most popular noodle of them all, this pasta has even made cameos in classic films. From Disney’s Lady and the Tramp (1955) to  Goodfellas (1990) it became a staple in America in the 20th century. However, Italians have been making this skinny noodle since the days of the Roman Empire.

Made from hard wheat, it is still hard to specifically date the invention of this noodle to Italy. Some say to give credit to China. It is said that Marco Polo brought back the knowledge of this noodle to Venice. However, as we learn more about our pasta past, there is evidence that Italians were making it way before then. Either way, this is one old noodle. And while the sauces might have changed to reflect the times, we love what it is today. At Spizzico’s we make our spaghetti with your choice of meatballs, meat sauce or crumbled sausage. YUM!

2. Penne

Penne PastaKnown for their cylinder-shaped pieces, this pasta is very versatile. Also, we know exactly when it was created. In 1865, a pasta maker, Giovanni Battista Capurro, created the now popular pasta noodles. Yet, we don’t think even he realized want a great invention it was. Little had changed about how it looks. Made from an unleavened dough of durum wheat flour, it is typically cooked al dente. This just means to cook it to when it is still stiff instead of mushy and soft.

When we said it was versatile, we weren’t kidding. Because of its shape and thickness, it is ideal for a variety of delicious sauces. On our menu, we have 7 different dishes we cook with penne pasta. They include:

  • Baked Ziti – The penne pasta is topped with our savory Made with tomato sauce baked with ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmigiano cheese.
  • Sausage Napoletana – Get meaty with this penne. Topped with our housemade sausage in an oven-roasted tomato sauce with Parmigiano cheese.
  • Penne Matriciana – Bring on the bacon, and caramelized onions, and oven-roasted tomatoes… with a side of bread it’s your new favorite dish.
  • Penne Arrabiata – Kick up the heat with this version. Tossed with our spicy oven-roasted tomato sauce and topped with Parmigiano cheese.
  • Penne Caprese – This fan favorite is made with oven-roasted tomatoes and chunks of housemade fresh mozzarella. Say that again: housemade. fresh. mozzarella. YES!
  • Penne Sausage & Rabe – This other meaty take is also made with our homemade sausage as well. Mixed in with a touch of our tomato sauce and topped with broccoli rabe.
  • Penne Shrimp Arugula – Mix it up with sautéed shrimp, perfect amounts of garlic, and our tasty oven-roasted tomatoes. Then tossed with arugula.

Hungry yet?

3. Lasagna

Lasagna PastaUnlike penne, this pasta has a very specific use. There is a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to this layered dish. First, lasagna (with an ‘a’) refers to the noodle while lasagne (with an e’) refers to the dish. Or at least that is how it is traditionally referred. However, since one cannot really exist without the other, it’s common to refer to both by the same. One thing that is not as flexible? Making it with layers.

Over the years everyone as put a spin on it, but the original, or OG lasagna, has cheese, meat, and sauce layers. We can also thank the Greeks for its recreation. While it is unlikely they made it with the Italian ingredients we use today, the method has basically stayed the same. No matter how you mix it, it is still a delicious dish. Ours is made the way our Italian families showed us: meatballs, hard-boiled egg, ham, bechamel, Parmigiano, meat sauce, and fresh mozzarella. Trust us, it’s good.

4. Fettuccine

Fettucine PastaIt’s hard to say this out loud and not sound fancy. At that makes sense, because of all the noddles, this ribbon-like pasta is the fanciest. And one almost always follows this with ‘alfredo’. But why limit it? We have 5 sauces dedicated to just this one pasta. We also make all our fettuccine from scratch. So next time you are in, try our housemade egg fettuccine with:

  • Carbonara – caramelized onions and bacon tossed with egg and a touch of cream.
  • Meat Sauce – slow-cooked tomato-based meat sauce.
  • Bolognese – a creamy meat sauce, thicker and chunkier than our traditional meat sauce.
  • Boscaiola – mushrooms, peas, zucchini, and eggplant in a light tomato cream sauce.
  • Alfredo – classic creamy white sauce with roasted garlic.

You can also top any of these off with your choice of chicken or shrimp. But wait, where did our fancy pasta originate? History says the Romans were making a similar thin ribbon pasta with cheese in the 15-century. However, fettuccine like we know today, at least the dishes like Fettuccine Alfredo, were thanks to one man in Rome. In the early 1900s, it’s namesake, Alfredo di Lelio, made a pasta dish for his wife. The key to the ‘most majestic fettuccine, Alfredo style’ is butter and lots of it.

Anything is Pastable

Well, we don’t know about you, but that made us very hungry. If you are crazing some authentic Italian cuisine after reading about these popular pasta noodles, stop on in. Spizzico Italian Restaurant is open Monday through Saturday from 11 am to 9 pm. We are also open on Sundays from noon to 9 pm. You can find us in the Bay Dale Shopping Center. Hope to see you soon!