Go well beyond the tried and trusted ravioli with filled pastas unique to particular regions of Italy.
Not only do Italy’s pasta dishes vary from region to region, town to town, but so does ultra-local pasta ripiena, or stuffed pasta —down to the ingredients for their fillings and the sauces they’re served with. Ravioli, tortellini, and cappelletti are the variations most Italian food lovers will recognize, and the stuffed little morsels tend to be more widespread in the country’s northern regions. La Pasta Frescha e Ripiena (“fresh and filled pasta”) by Roberta Schira mentions that, historically, “fresh and filled pasta from a base of soft wheat flour and eggs is produced in the North as a festive and ritual food, while in the Central-North they produce fresh pasta—less so filled pasta… in the South, filled pasta is almost non-existent.”
There are a few ways to make a stuffed pasta, which can be prepped using a filling based on meat, vegetables, fish, or cheese. The simplest technique takes a square or round piece of pasta sheet, places the filling in the center, and folds the pasta over on itself to seal the piece into a parcel—just like closing a book—so you end up with a stuffed triangle or crescent. This could then be shaped further, as in the case of tortellini, where the pasta’s two opposing corners are pulled and pinched together. Then, there are those that use two sheets of pasta, where the filling is arranged in little bundles atop the bottom sheet, and the top sheet is laid over and shaped around the filling, with each individual piece of pasta sliced off and shaped.
There are other approaches when it comes to giving paste ripiene their individual forms. Though these two methods are the most common, the diversity of stuffed pasta is pretty broad. Here, a selection of regional editions traditional to each of those zones, spanning famed dishes and those that are lesser known.
Downright delicious stuffed pasta you’ll find in Italy
Tortellini in brodo from Emilia-Romagna
Emilia-Romagna is the region from which filled pasta is perhaps best known, and tortellini is arguably the area’s most famous pasta dish. The mouthfuls are stuffed with a mixture of pork, mortadella, prosciutto, parmesan, and a pinch of nutmeg, traditionally often served in a clear, delicate beef broth.
Cjalsons from Friuli Venezia Giulia
Also known as cjarsons, this semi-circular, native friulana pasta has many different recipes. It’s known for its agrodolce (sweet and sour) filling featuring raisins and spices. The recipe that’s most often shared packs them with ricotta, raisins, bitter chocolate, and candied lemon, served with smoked, grated ricotta and butter.
Pansotti from Liguria
Typically from Genova and the areas to the city’s south, these are shaped as triangles or mezzelune (half-moons) and often filled with a mix of parmesan, ricotta, spinach or borage, and herbs like marjoram, all served with a creamy walnut sauce.
Tortelli di zucca mantovani from Lombardy
Zucca mantovana—a type of pumpkin from the town of Mantua with a bumpy, green skin—is the star of this local dish, made with a pumpkin puree center with nutmeg and crushed amaretti biscuits and topped with a butter-based sauce.
Try a soft, fruity Oltrepo Barbera with this salty-sweet dish.
Agnolotti al plin from Piedmont
Said to derive from the word anolino (little ring), these agnolotti are given a plin (Piedmontese dialect for “pinch”) in order to close them shut around a veal and pork filling flavored with nutmeg and parmesan. They’re finished with a sugo d’arrosto (meat gravy), or a sage and butter sauce.
Culurgiones from Sardinia
There are a bunch of ingredients that might be used to stuff these pockets, which are said to originate from the Ogliastra area. The most traditional recipe uses a filling of crushed potatoes, mint, and garlic, paired with a simple tomato sauce.
Schlutzkrapfen from Trentino-South Tyrol
Usually, it’s ricotta, onion, and potato that form the insides of these crescent-shaped ravioli called schlutzkrapfen, which use a mix of soft wheat and rye flours for the pasta. Butter, chopped chives, and parmesan are often used as a simple finish to the dish.
Casonseì from Veneto
These Venetian crescents (sometimes spelled casunziei or casonziei) are wrapped around a beet puree, which sometimes has a bit of ricotta folded through it, and the dish is tossed with a butter-poppy seed sauce.
A full-bodied Valpolicella Superiore DOC offers the intensity needed for that earthy beet filling.
Tortelli di patate from Tuscany
These large, square parcels are stuffed with boiled potatoes pureed with a touch of ripe tomatoes or tomato concentrate, plus garlic and sometimes fresh rosemary. They can be served with a meat-based ragù, a porcini mushroom sauce, or simply butter and parmesan.