Pasta is a wheat-based food that can take on many shapes and sizes. When people hear the word "pasta" they tend to think of Italian food, and in fact the name bucatini is derived from the Italian "buco", meaning "hole."
Bucatini is shaped in hollow tubular lengths. The pasta may be ridged or not; ridges will help sauce adhere to each piece.
Although hollow, bucatini is thick and cut long, like spaghetti. There is a pinhole running through the pasta so when cooking, be careful not to overcook it or it will be mushy and unpleasant to eat.
If your recipe requires bucatini and you have trouble locating it at your market, you may substitute with another long pasta (hollow or not) such as perciatelli.
Hollow pasta is also available in different shapes such as rigatoni (short and wide), penne (narrow and diagonally cut), and ziti (short thick tubes).
The most well-known bucatini dish is the classic "Bucatini alla Matriciana", in which the pasta is tossed with a spicy tomato-based sauce with pancetta.