Gnocchi (meaning 'knots', most likely) have been around since Roman times. Literally, it means 'dumplings'. Lately it has come to mean the thing a lot of central Italian kids can count on every Thursday night: heavy potato dumplings with a plain tomato sauce and lots of cheese. We suspect they're intended to be mom's night off.
Verona claims the best, and even has a dumpling pope, il Papà del Gnoccho, who presides at Carnevale's Baccanal del Gnocco, a tradition dating back over 400 years, after a famine struck the city and a benefactor donated the ingredients to make a gnocchi feast for the town. A bit confusingly, in the south, gnocchi often mean the same as strozzapreti.
Some gnocchi classics:
gnocchi alla bava: a speciality of Piedmont, served with butter and Fontina and topped with Grano Padano.
gnocchi a coda de soreca: 'mouse tail' gnocchi—a long form of gnocchi made with wheat flour and corn flour, made in Lazio. Similar to strozzapreti, and served with a lamb, boar, or pork ragú.
gnocchi carrati: in the Abruzzo, served with pancetta, eggs and cheese.
gnocchi alle ortica: green dumplings, made with nettles and ricotta.
gnocchi alla romana: made of semolina and baked with butter and Parmesan.
gnocchi alla sorrentina: with tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil.
gnocchi di spinaci e ricotta: made with spinach and ricotta.
gnocchi di susine: gnocchi filled with prunes, topped with melted butter, cinnamon and bread crumbs (Friuli).
Images by: Marco Fedele, Verona Turismo