Ravioli’s Day of Reckoning Has Arrived

As a society, we are being criminally under-served ravioli at every turn. 

Ravioli’s Day of Reckoning Has Arrived

I recently split two pasta entrées with my mom for her birthday dinner at Union Square Café. The mafaldine arrived piled high on a large plate, with several thick squiggly noodles drenched in duck ragú and pistachios. The second entrée sat dwarfed in its shadow: a single flat ravioli in herb butter that we were forced to cut down the middle in order to share. That one, admittedly delicious, raviolo cost 38 whole dollars, inexplicably more than the duck mafaldine that made up the bulk of our meal. 

I’m not interested in talking about the overall absurdity of NYC dining prices (when did we agree to pay $24 for a side of broccolini?!), but I am interested in telling you why ordering ravioli at a restaurant is a scam. It doesn’t matter whether you’re dining at Eleven Madison Park or stuffing your face at an Italian joint off the NJ highway with clear ties to the local mob, we as a society are being criminally under-served ravioli at every turn. 

I’m forever haunted by memories of watching my friends enjoy heaping mounds of linguini and penne while I polished off my paltry portion of ravioli mere minutes after it arrived at the table. As someone who loves dumplings in all forms, I spent years ordering those pillowy melt-in-your-mouth pockets hoping to feel satisfied at the end of the meal, only to be let down again and again. And let me clarify that I now know better than to place my hopes in a ravioli entrée. This article was commissioned before my mom’s birthday dinner, and I never would have ordered the single ravioli if my Dad hadn’t been footing the bill.

Ravioli dishes these days come with three to five pieces maximum, six if you’re really lucky. What am I, a full-grown adult, supposed to do with four pieces of pasta? It’s not like those little dumplings arrive stuffed to the gills like a pillow busting out of its too-small case. Most ravioli contain a teaspoon of ricotta and some butternut squash at most. There isn’t enough sage butter in the world to make up for the fact that I’m still hungry at the bottom of my elegantly shallow bowl so cavernous it only highlights the need for more ravioli. 

I recently took this gripe to Twitter (it’s not X if we all collectively refuse to call it X) where I bring all of my most pressing niche thoughts in search of validation. It turns out restaurant ravioli has a lower approval rating than Congress. There’s not a lot we as a country can agree on, but the people are fed up when it comes to measly ravioli portions. “Do they think because it’s a top and a bottom it’s twice as much pasta? Because it’s not” wondered @zelzny_c. “I literally double the portion they make in a restaurant. And it had me wondering if everyone else does the same or is the restaurant portion universally considered enough by everyone except me???” asked @witch_andfamous, to which I say: we see you and you are not alone.

I’m sure there’s someone out there right now getting ready to comment, “Well, I’m always full after four raviolis” and that’s so great for you, Carole, but this article is actually for the rest of us.

Despite my fervent stance, I’m grateful to the food industry folks on the platform who pointed out that assembling stuffed pastas is a delicate process and making ravioli takes longer for chefs to do than making noodles. That is true, and I want people to get paid fairly for their labor. I just also want to eat a pasta entrée that won’t leave me raiding the fridge as soon as I get home. Charge me a stuffed-pasta upcharge if you must, I just want more ravioli. Please. 

Lastly, I’d like to applaud this brave woman who says she asks servers how many ravioli come in an order and negotiates an upcharge for more. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s the kind of innovative problem-solving we need to survive in a four-ravioli world. 

Stay tuned for more news in this vital investigation, when we’ll also explore topics like Ravioli vs. Tortellini: So Few for One, So Many for the Other, followed by The Raviolo: How Big Is Big Enough to Serve Just One? And if you know of a spot that serves as many fresh ravioli as I’d eat alone in my apartment for less than $40, please let me know immediately.

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