Yes, You Love Pasta. But Do You Know the Difference Between Anolini and Pansoti?

T’s May 19 Travel issue is dedicated to pasta in Italy, diving deep into the culinary traditions, regional variations and complicated history of the country’s national symbol. Here, to complement Dawn Davis’s essay on Piedmont’s agnolotti del plin, is a list of seven other stuffed pastas — and where to find them.


Round or crescent shaped, filled with slow-cooked meat, Parmesan and bread crumbs

Provenance: Emilia-Romagna

While anolini are closely associated with Parma — where they’re mentioned in local court documents from the middle of the 17th century — they’re also typical in Piacenza, 40 miles northwest. Although the name is widely believed to derive from anello, which means “ring,” anolini can be half-moons, too. Whatever the shape, they’re defined by their filling of stracotto: beef braised in wine until surrounded by a gravy-like sauce called a fondo. At Osteria del Trentino, near the old armory in Piacenza, several hundred anolini are prepared every other day in the restaurant’s small kitchen. The minced stracotto is mixed with bread crumbs, Parmesan and some of the fondo, then enclosed in fresh egg pasta. Each anolino is the size of a bottle cap, with a similarly serrated edge, and is cooked in what’s called brodo di terza (“broth of thirds”), the name referencing the three types of meat — beef, veal and chicken — that are simmered in water to produce a golden, flavorful broth.


Hat shaped, filled with pumpkin and Parmesan

Provenance: Emilia-Romagna

“Potbellies,” “donkey ears,” “pants,” “shoes,” “cockscombs,” “slaps” — English translations of filled pasta names are often entertaining but not entirely accurate. Translating gets even clumsier when suffixes are involved: “tortellini” (“little filled things”); “tortelloni” (“big filled things”); “cappelletti” (“little hats”). And then there is “cappellacci,” which is difficult to translate because “accio” is a pejorative suffix. “Ragazzo,” or “boy,” for example, becomes “ragazzaccio” (“bad boy”), while “cappello” (“hat”) is degraded to “cappellaccio” (“scruffy hat”), in line with the folk theory that the round, folded form of a cappellaccio is like a farmer’s straw hat.

In reality, cappellacci, with their filling of pumpkin, formaggio grana and nutmeg, have courtly origins, first mentioned in 1584 in a recipe book by a steward to the Duke of Ferrara in Emilia-Romagna. Five centuries later, cappellacci di zucca are a pillar of Ferraresi gastronomy, made at home or bought from fresh pasta shops and a fixture on every osteria menu. Of note are those made and served with butter and sage at Hostaria Savonarola in the middle of the city.

The chef Stefano Secchi demonstrates how to make pansoti, a belly-shaped pasta from the Liguria region of Italy.CreditCredit…David Chow


Trouser shaped, with various fillings

Provenance: Friuli-Venezia Giulia

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