There are more than 350 shapes of Italian pasta, and each shape is optimized for a specific type of sauce or serving method. In general, delicate noodles such as angel hair are for delicate sauces, and heartier noodles such as penne or rigatoni are for heartier sauces.
Common types of pasta are spaghetti, which is long and thin, penne, which is shaped in short tubes, rigatoni, which is shaped in thick, ridged tubes, and fettuccine, which is shaped in flat, slightly wide strands. Cooks commonly serve these pastas with tomato sauces that may or may not contain meat, cream sauces and oil-based sauces. Penne and rigatoni are often served baked. Farfalle, which are bowtie-shaped pasta, and fusilli, which are loosely curled pasta, are also common. Wide, flat lasagne noodles are often used in layered dishes, and shell-shaped pastas are often stuffed and baked in sauce.