The difference is in the ‘taglia’ (cut)
Although the name tagliolini sounds similar to tagliatelle, tagliolini are not quite the same as their better known cousin. The word ‘taglia’ means cut in Italian and the difference is actually in the cut! Tagliolini are long strands of pasta somewhere between capellini and tagliatelle in thickness, usually around 2mm wide and are sometimes slightly cyndrical. I say sometimes because information about this pasta is rather confusing.
Tagliolini or taglierini? That is the question!
Many Italians also call them ‘taglierini’ and in many Italian language recipes and cooking sites they appear to be treated as one and the same. Even Wikipedia says tagliolini is another name for taglierini! However, after much sifting through tons of information, I believe these are two separate pasta types. Afterall, the king of commercial pasta ‘Barilla’ sells them as two different types of pasta. Taglierini are flat but thinner than tagliatelle and take slightly longer to cook, while tagliolini are rounder and slimmer and require less cooking time. They are also often twisted together and bought as a pasta nest.
Tagliolini were originally eaten mostly in soups but, nowadays, they are also often served with light pasta sauces, especially seafood, vegetable and creamy sauces. You can find them on the table in a number of Italian regions and they are claimed as typical regional pasta in Liguria, Emilia-Romagna, Molise and Piemonte, where they are also called ‘tajarin’ in the local dialect. Whilst researching this pasta I found so many delicious recipes! Some of these were perhaps more suited to the slightly thicker, flatter taglierini. However, I reckon since the difference isn’t so great and many Italians treat these pasta types as being the same anyway, whether you’re using tagliolini or taglierini, they make a perfect pasta partner for many delicate pasta recipes and a nice alternative to spaghetti. Take a look at my post for alla mediterranea sauce which we were served in a restaurant during a family confirmation lunch. The chef used tagliolini and the dish was superlicious!