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How to Serve Pasta: Plates vs Bowls?


Here at G.E.T., our customers are always asking us what is better for pasta serving, a bowl or a plate? This is a great question, and like most questions, when it comes to selecting the correct tableware, the answer varies depending on multiple factors. Some of those factors are operational, but in many cases, it’s personal preference.

Like food, the presentation of food and the choices made for your dinnerware are creative solutions. Let’s take a look at some of the operational factors and then share some creative options you may want to consider for serving pasta in a bowl or on a plate.

Pictured: Cosmo dinnerware

How to Determine Which Dish is Best for Serving Pasta

The basic rule of thumb when selecting your tabletop items, which applies to both pasta bowls and pasta plates, is form follows function. This basically means, what are the operational needs you should consider? If you keep that in mind when making a selection, you’ll consistently be making the effective decision for your operation’s tabletop presentation above and beyond the appearance.

Pictured: Marzette serveware – Coming Soon at G.E.T.

As you look to determine your operational needs, some of what you may consider in this decision include:

  • What is the portion size of your pasta entrŽe?
    Choose an appropriate size dinnerware to support your entrŽe size regardless if you choose a bowl or a plate.
  • Do you offer a different size for lunch vs dinner vs a kids meal?  
    You may need different dinnerware to support all your needs.
  • Are you serving individual or family-style dishes? 
    Family-style dishes usually require much larger dinnerware and larger oval platters could be versatile to serve a lot of
    family-dining items on your menu.
  • Do you have sauces that need serving elevation so they don’t leak off the plate? 
    Then choose something with an elevated rim.
  • Does the pasta dish require some cutting, or are the ingredients bite size? 
    You may choose to go with a plate if some cutting is involved and choose a bowl if all ingredients are bite size.
  • Do you want to have certain pasta dishes presented in a certain way that enhance the perceived value?
    For a strong presentation, try serving your pasta in a bowl with a wider rim.
  • How often do you serve pasta entrŽes in your operation?
    If your operation serves a lot of pasta dishes, you may consider choosing a bowl that truly enhances the presentation of your menu. However, if you serve only one or two different types of pasta and pasta is not a huge focus for you, then I would recommend utilizing an existing dinnerware and not adding chaos to your kitchen with additional, unnecessary SKUs. 
  • How much storage room do you have in the dishroom, storage area, or on the cooking line?
    If you don’t have a lot of room, try to keep your tableware SKUs to a minimum. Choose versatile dinnerware that you can use for multiple items on your menu.
  • How good is your bussing operation?
    The better the bussing in your foodservice operation, the less breakage you will have. Educate your staff on how to properly care for your dinnerware so you can use money saved to upgrade your tableware and enhance your food presentations.

Pictured: Rustic Mill dinnerware

The operator can answer all of these questions without much forethought, and from that understanding of these functional answers, the move to form (or selection) can begin. Operationally, a restaurant will need to consider the full menu when deciding on their dinnerware and whether or not they have the kitchen storage and washing space to support multiple-function options.


Serving Pasta: Bowl vs Plate

In my opinion, a bowl can create a stronger pasta presentation as it elevates the food to improve appearance and allows for more food ingredient options. It is relatively easy to make pasta look attractive in a bowl. The shape of the bowl itself can help you to nest your pasta into a beautiful mountain. Add a garnish on top and Voila!, you have an appealing presentation.

Bowls with wide rims are especially useful for serving pasta as they draw attention to the food, creating a perfect canvas. Take a look at G.E.T.’s modern Minski bowls. They’re sure to complement any culinary creation. 

 Pro Tip   Avoid the use of soup bowls as they are usually too deep for serving pasta. Large, low-scale bowls will be a much better fit for this application. 

A plate can give you more flexibility for other menu items but has limitations to what it can hold safely from your lap. Yikes!

You can still create a beautiful pasta presentation on a plate, especially if you choose an irregular plate or one with an interesting color or design. Wide oval or round plates will probably be a better choice for pasta application, however, try to stay away from oblong shapes that can make your pasta look too spread out.

 Pro Tip  A good rule of thumb is to consider all of your existing menu offerings before choosing the right dinnerware for your new pasta dish. Try to ensure its best presentation without causing chaos in your kitchen with additional, unnecessary dinnerware SKUs.

pasta-square-coupe-plate.jpgPictured: Siciliano dinnerware

Alternately, like the amazing pasta dish that your talented chef has created, the choice in your dinnerware is also part of the creative solution. There are shapes, textures, colors, designs, and depths that add to the 1000s of options you can choose from. 

You may want to add an Italian theme along with the pasta, so pattern designs in some dinnerware can help you accent that. If you want to bring a family-style option to your guests, large display pieces in cool, new shapes and colors are an option. For those more traditional or simple in presentation, an elegant or moderate dinnerware style gives you much to play with. 

So, to the question which is better, the answer is form follows function! Now, that you have made up your mind which dinnerware is better for your operation, you may want to read about the cost of melamine dinnerware for a restaurant, how to price guide.

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