In Italian as in English, the term “pipe” refers to the instrument preferred by smokers in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Pipes, or pipettes, are curved pasta tubes that take their name from this same elbow shape. The die for this cut features a thin sheet of metal on one side, creating an imbalance of pressure to form the pipe-like curve. The flared, hollowed shape holds sauces and small portions of proteins or vegetables beautifully, and plays the starring role in upscale mac and cheese dishes.
Pipettes are most often found in northern Italian dishes, with gorgonzola creams, winter squashes or meat sauces.