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Celebrate National Ravioli Day in all its doughy glory

Ricotta ravioli are served with spring vegetables and

Ricotta ravioli are served with spring vegetables and browned butter at Trattoria Diane in Roslyn. Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus

Filling the appetite between National Poultry Day and National California Strawberry Day is March 20: National Ravioli Day.

Now, there's a cause for celebration.

Ravioli has been with us for centuries. Were they invented in Genoa or Cremona? Do they have Arab provenance? Could Marco Polo have had his first primi in the Far East? Are they better in Brooklyn or the Bronx?

None of this matters.

What counts is the thinness of the dough, the delicacy of the stuffing, the manner of cooking, the type of sauce, if any.

You can eat ravioli fried, baked or boiled. They may be savory or sweet. But the one that makes it a mainstay here is stuffed neither with lobster nor marmalade. It's the classic version from Campania and other points south of Rome: filled with ricotta, Parmesan cheese, basil, an egg to bind. And it has been made and/or served in Italian-American households from New York to San Francisco, from Elmont to Montauk.

In Liguria, you may find ravioli grassi, with meat; or ravioli magri, with vegetables. In Emilia-Romagna, they may be served with braised beef.

Locally, look for the outstanding cheese ravioli at Casa Rustica in Smithtown, where there's a ravioli del giorno. Or hope they bring back the Gorgonzola-and-leek ravioli at Nick & Toni's in East Hampton. Butternut squash ravioli with butter and sage has starred at Trattoria Diane in Roslyn. The "garden inspired" ravioli from Roots Bistro Gourmand in West Islip: a little symphony of flavor.

What you drink with your ravioli could include Barbera or Chianti, Dolcetto or Valpolicella. Just don't check the calendar.

March 20 is National Bock Beer Day, too.

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