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Gnocci, how to describe it to someone who's never tried it?

We went to a very nice French restaurant last night, and one of the entrees was gnocci, however they'd run out.

I've been trying to describe gnocci to my SO, and he's convinced that it'd be soggy or mushy. I'm having trouble trying to describe it better.

Does anyone have a good way to explain gnocci to someone who hasn't tried it?

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  1. When done well I always describe them as fluffy light pillows of flavor.. Sorry, I know that's sounds corny, but it works for me.

      1. re: Leonardo

        Ummm, we're talking about a French-Canadian Mainer - I don't think he's had kreplach!

        Sorry I wasn't more clear about that in my OP.

        1. re: Leonardo


          kreplach are in teh ravioli school - pasta stuffed with meat

          how is gnocchi anything like that?

        2. Gnocci - the very best fluffy but someone dense (this is the problem with describing gnocci!), rich, buttery mashed potatoes with a slightest texture of skin (toothniess) - a structure around the richness. One restaurant I know makes theirs in the ref to keep the butter from melting (and it is almost too rich!). And then they cover them with the things you'd want in mashed potatoes or a rich baked potato - a red sauce, a sage butter, or just oil/butter/garlic.

          1. Given that it's the French iteration, how about "dough balls"?

            Or, the European savory cousin of Taiwanese boba? :-)

            1. Just make him try them!

              THEN he'll see...

              1. There's also Roman style gnocchi that's a bit different - baked in larger pieces and made with semolina flour instead of potato.

                7 Replies
                1. re: limster

                  There's ricotta gnocchi as well (hi Limster, miss you!).

                  I'm confused, do the French really spell it "gnocci"?

                  1. re: tatamagouche

                    I was wondering this also. I wasn't sure if the OP misspelled it or if this is an alternative spelling that I've never before encountered.

                    I like hummingbird's descriptoin - fluffy, light pillows - although I've had many gnocchi that were very dense and heavy. But I prefer the billowy ones.

                      1. re: tracylee

                        Wow, that's looks like an amazing menu. Very nice. I hope dinner tasted as good as it looked on the menu. :)

                        1. re: lynnlato

                          It was truly fantastic - brought out my limited French as we ordered Pots de Creme for dessert!

                    1. re: tatamagouche

                      I thought the ricotta version was gnudi?

                      I love gnocchi and wanted to try making the gnudi soon... well, as soon as I find the time to make my whole wheat pasta first.

                      1. re: Ima Wurdibitsch

                        You know, honestly, I think technically you're right, although a lot of people do just call gnudi ricotta gnocchi. I guess gnudi are a subset. You can also add ricotta to potato or semolina gnocchi to lighten them a bit...

                  2. He sounds like a big boy, just tell him to try them. If he doesn't like them, you get to finish his dish, everyone wins!

                    1. I agree with (hummingbird), when done well they are pillows of flavor......when done poorly...they are pasta bubble gum.

                      1. potato dumpling. Bit sour.

                          1. re: filth

                            They *definitely* shouldn't be that. You've had some bad experiences, I take it.

                            Soop: "sour"?

                            1. re: tatamagouche

                              Yeah. I had them on their own with a steak once (no sauce) and after a while you do get a kind of sour, acid taste coming through. These were store bought fresh ones.

                              IDK, I don't eat them often.

                            2. re: filth

                              Yikes, dude, you've been eating the wrong gnocchi.

                              1. re: lynnlato

                                gnocchi isn't really supposed to be amazing, is it though? I mean it's like bubble and squeak, it's nice enough, but it's essentially leftovers.

                                1. re: Soop


                                  no leftovers at all. it's a type of pasta, usually made with potatoes eggs and flour. sometimes riccota. sometimes its more of a semolina dumpling. none of those things are leftovers.

                                  1. re: thew

                                    Oh, sorry I was under the impression that gnocchi were made with leftover mashed potato. And apparantly they don't even always have potato!

                                  2. re: Soop

                                    Good gnocchi is, in fact, amazing. It is far from b&s or leftovers when done properly

                                    1. re: Soop

                                      I guess amazing is in the eye of the beholder. I always thought of good gnocchi as a special treat. I get excited when I go back home and visit our favorite Italian (american) spot and see them on the menu. I just can't get them anywhere like there. Good sauce, crusty bread, Italian peppers & oil and a bottle of Valpolicella - that's damn good stuff to me.

                                2. The gnocchi I ate were small cut out discs of a mealy textured light dough -- like polenta. The gnocchi were the size of medium sized scallops. One layer deep in a casserole with red sauce and cheese over, then heated till bubbly. Delicious!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: neverlate

                                    This sounds like the Roman version.

                                  2. Like eating clouds with incredible flavor (but only when made correctly).