I’m not sure I ever wondered, back when they existed, what it would feel like to chew on the coils of a telephone cord. But in this mostly wireless world, I can now say I don’t think it would have been that bad: My new favorite pasta shape is essentially a telephone cord, or maybe those no-tie elastic shoelaces, except extruded from gluten. Chewy springs, I’ve learned, make for a particularly great bowl of pasta.
Fusilli corti bucati is like the pasta salad mainstays fusilli and rotini, except leveled up. Where fusilli and rotini have flat blades like a corkscrew, fusilli corti bucati is all curves — a short, smooth coil that, like bucatini, is made out of a hollow tube. (Corti means short; bucati or con buco mean with a hole.) The shape offers the same wonderful cling of fusilli, with spaces and ridges to catch sauces, especially chunky ones. But it has an added element: fun. Not that it’s ever very hard for me to eat more pasta, but a bowl of fusilli corti bucati makes me excited about each bite, spearing and stretching each spring with my fork.
Just as bucatini offers more bounce than flat spaghetti, fusilli corti bucati gives you a little more to chew through. “Toothsome” is one of those food words, like “unctuous,” that is annoying to read in most usages, but when I eat this pasta (and Sfoglini’s cascatelli), it’s the only word that makes sense. The pasta is neither crunchy nor snappy, but it has a just-right amount of resistance. It refuses to go limp even if I lose track of time and cook it a little longer than the box’s suggestion for al dente.
Fusilli corti bucati has held up to every sauce I’ve thrown at it: the simple emulsification of butter, parm, and pasta water; cream-based sauces including vodka sauce; jarred marinara and the three-ingredient Marcella Hazan red sauce; mushroom and lentil-based ragù. It’s given cavatappi a run for its money as my go-to mac and cheese noodle since the smaller hole and tighter springs lend a more pleasant texture, in my opinion.
Some brands, like Colavita and Delallo, sell the longer version known as fusilli con buco, which offers the upside of length for those who like a good twirl — but it comes at the expense of a tight coil, with a shape that’s more like a slept-in-a-braid wave than a bouncy ’80s-perm spring. That doesn’t appeal to me quite as much.
The only major downside of fusilli corti bucati is that it doesn’t seem as readily available as good old fusilli. That said, I’ll keep stocking up on the boxes from De Cecco as long as my grocery store will sell them, and I’ll stay eagle-eyed at Trader Joe’s, which sometimes has the shape in its rotation. That diligence — I promise — is well worth it.