If you haven’t heard the news, I’m devastated to be the one to break it to you: Ronzoni has discontinued its production of pastina. In an announcement in early January, the company said that they couldn’t secure a producer for the tiny pasta shape and would no longer be offering it to its customers. 

Fans were understandably upset. For many Italian Americans, pastina is more than an adorable, star-shaped pasta—it’s the nostalgic centerpiece of childhood. Picture: You are a kid. You have a cold. Your parent cooks pastina in broth and tops it with butter and Parmesan and brings it to you in bed. What could be better than that?

Alas, Ronzoni’s pastina may be gone (at least for now), but don’t worry, tiny pasta shape lovers, there is good news: There are other small pasta shapes that can fill the pastina-shaped hole in your heart. Though not all are one-to-one swaps for pastina, all are extremely cute. 

Acini di Pepe

This pasta shape, which translates to “grains of pepper,” adds a burst of springy, chewy texture to any dish. Although slightly larger than the original pastina shape, acini di pepe still works well as a substitute. Try it with these brothy meatballs—the recipe calls for fregola, but acini di pepe would work well.

Brothy Meatballs with Peas, Fennel, and Tiny Pasta

This dish is a perfect choice for those blustery but bright early spring days: It’s comforting from the simple-but-flavorful broth and bright from the crunchy fresh topping.

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Fregola Sarda

Speaking of fregola: This is another small, roughly spherical pasta that would absolutely love to step in for pastina. It’s a bit larger, which can offer a touch more toothsomeness, but we celebrate that. Fregola shines in pasta salads but also works wonders in concert with the bright snap of peas, airy mint, and luxurious ricotta in this remixed pasta e fagioli.

Fregola with Green Peas, Mint, and Ricotta

We remixed pasta e fagioli, turning the brothy pasta into a welcome party for our favorite seasonal triumvirate: peas, mint, and ricotta.

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Israeli Couscous

Much larger than Moroccan couscous but still small compared to most pasta shapes, Israeli couscous is known as ptitim in Hebrew. Like pastina, it’s made from semolina and fairly neutral in flavor, so it can support whichever flavor you choose to pair with it, you crazy kid. 

Israeli Couscous and Tomato Salad

Use any cooked grain or other small pasta for this bittersweet number.

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As a short tubular pasta, ditalini is ready to scratch your nostalgic itch: Adult SpaghettiOs. This familiar classic is updated for your discerning adult palate—but at the end of the day, it can still do the heavy lifting as pasta in a soul-warming tomato sauce, made velvety smooth with a touch of cream and tweaked with a wink of spice. Also fun: this chicken tiny-noodle soup

Adult “SpaghettiOs”

These are extra saucy and a little sweet like the original SpaghettiOs, but with grown-up flavors all around.

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While it’s surprisingly controversial among our staff, orzo is a key player in many pasta salads. Is it the tiniest pasta? No. Will it give your dishes a hearty, chewy base? You bet. For the orzo doubters, try it in this one-skillet chicken recipe, where it rubs elbows with fennel, leeks, and lots of butter. 

One-Skillet Chicken With Buttery Orzo

Why use a bunch of pots and pans when fennel, orzo, and chicken can be cooked in one?

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Yes! Stelline can still be found! It’s sold by several pasta brands that compete with Ronzoni, so you can still live out your pastina dreams. Grate your Parmesan, simmer your broth, and prepare your butter—stelline is here to save the day.