RIP Pastina: How to Fill the Star-Shaped Hole in Your Heart

by Peter Candia
replacements for pastina

Let’s be real, many of the people grieving the loss of Pastina haven’t had it in years—me included. When Ronzoni announced last month that they would discontinue the beloved, star-shaped pasta, I was devastated. I scoured my parent’s pantry for the bright blue box—to no luck. Then, I let the grief marinate a bit. To be honest, Pastina is at least somewhat fueled by nostalgia and though it is upsetting that a piece of our childhood was ripped away with no remorse, it doesn’t mean we have to dwell on it.

Pastina is juvenile—in a good way. A bowl of the stuff instantly transports me back to a simpler time. I cherish the memories of faking sick just to stay home from school playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 and scarfing down bowls of the stuff. My Mother would mix in copious amounts of cheese and butter for me. Some like to whisk an egg into it as well. For many, it provides a feeling of warmth and comfort. In an instant, a bowl of Pastina can make you forget about all of your problems.

Trouble at work? Make a bowl of Pastina.

Sick? Pastina is here to help.

Fell and scraped your knee? Mom will cook up some Pastina.

The wife left you? Have some Pastina.

What Are Some Replacements for Pastina?

Pastina is just that: A band-aid. It is there for you when nothing else is. The word “pastina” literally translates to “small pasta,” but because of Ronzoni’s popularity in the States, it has become synonymous with only the star-shaped bits. And, with it gone, what will you turn to? Well, lucky for you, there are several great replacements on the market that can be prepared in exactly the same style. The star-shaped hole in your heart will be healed. Trust me.


Macro Mondays Zed

Seriously, in everyone’s outrage over Pastina’s brutal disappearance, did we just decide to collectively forget about orzo? Sure, it’s slightly larger than Pastina and the shape isn’t as joyous, but orzo has been a staple in my pantry for years now. It’s great in soup, but for me, I prepare it exactly how I would Pastina. Simmering orzo in chicken broth and finishing it with cheese and butter is delicious. Its flavors and texture bring the same comfort to me that Pastina always did. Orzo is equally as consoling as Pastina, with more versatility.

Acini Di Pepe


For me, this is one of the greatest Pastina replacements. Acini di Pepe is a miniature, sphere-shaped pasta that is perfect in soups or as a side dish. It resembles a grain of pepper, which is what the name translates to. When looking at size, which does matter, Acini di Pepe is pretty spot-on. Of course, the shape differs from the signature star, but if you mix it with enough cheese and butter, who cares?

Israeli Couscous

israeli couscous

Israeli couscous differs from traditional Moroccan couscous—which is microscopic in size. This version of the miniature pasta is similar to Acini di Pepe in terms of shape, but is also toasted, offering a nutty flavor. If you’re someone who prefers a bit of a bite in their pasta, this might be the ideal replacement for you. It has the same great feel as Ronzoni Pastina, but with a tad more chew and a slightly different flavor.


329/365: Stelline

If your miniature pasta not being shaped like a star is really a deal-breaker, then this is your best option for the foreseeable future. Stelline is a star-shaped pastina that is made by several brands, such as Barilla, De Cecco and Liguori. Some brands make a slightly larger star with a hole in the center, while others offer a virtual carbon copy of the Ronzoni brand. Stelline can be found in most grocery stores as well as online.

It’ll Be Okay

We get it. Letting go of the past can be difficult. In New Jersey, the loss of Ronzoni Pastina devastated much of the population. With Ronzoni essentially having a monopoly on miniature pasta in the US, it remains a mystery how they could allow it to go away like this. But fret not because there are Pastina replacements. Some might say that the substitutes are even better.

This Stuff is Keeping Me Alive!

RIP, Pastina.

About the Author/s

All posts

Peter Candia is the Food + Drink Editor at New Jersey Digest. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Peter found a passion for writing midway through school and never looked back. He is a former line cook, server and bartender at top-rated restaurants in the tri-state area. In addition to food, Peter enjoys politics, music, sports and anything New Jersey.

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Concetta Barnish February 10, 2023 - 2:00 pm

I’m 69 years old an grew up on pastina please Tina about bringing it back you once carried carrot and spinach pasta too hope you change your mind millions of people loved pastina
GOD bless you all

e February 11, 2023 - 10:21 am

According to the Ronzoni website Pastina is alive and well so perhaps everyone should simmer down. Just a thought.

Sara March 15, 2023 - 5:33 pm

Here’s my little PSA: pastina is not dead and no replacement is needed. There’s a lot of confusion regarding this. Only Ronzoni ended production. Pastina is still made by Barilla and San Giorgio; they are not discontinuing production. No need to buy a million boxes. No need to pay $100/box on eBay. No need to buy every type of small pasta on the shelves. ONLY Ronzoni pastina is discontinued. That is all.


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