Every Italian-American and non-Italian knows about those classic dishes manicotti and cannelloni. They are feautured in most Italian Restaurants and pizza shops across the country. But to some extent, some aren't able to describe the difference between the two.
"Manicotti" means "small muffs", and was orinally made using crepes rolled around a savory ricotta and grated cheese filling. These can be topped with either a basic tomato sauce for a light first course, or with ragu and topped with mozzarella before baking in a hot oven. They are most often made with fat, ridged pasta tubes for stuffing. In fact, these are a Neapolitan creation known to them as "Millerighi", or "thousand ridges". The same recipe given for these is virtually identical to what folks here make, and can be found in Arthur's Schwartz's "Naples at Table". The name Manicotti is not found in Italy, as any dish made with crepes rolled around a sweet or savory filling is simply called "crespelle".
Cannelloni means "large reeds", and are made exclusively from fresh, hand-rolled pasta filled in any variety of ways. One of the most popular is a roasted pork or veal stuffing with vegetables, ground together and stuffed inside the fresh pasta sheets, topped with bechamel and Parmigiano-Reggiano. This is a typical Northern version, featured extensively in the Florence and Reggio-Emilia provinces.
Regardless as to whichever name they are given or the preparation, these two dishes have become yet another great addition to the world's favorite ethnic cuisine.