Italy is famous for pizza, pasta, and gelato, three things I could eat endlessly. It is very different from the Italian food you’ve had at home as each region has its own special regional ingredients, recipes and flavors. It is all just so lovable because it’s almost always made from scratch using fresh ingredients. From simple pizzas to not-so-complicated pasta, to antipasti and desserts, here are some traditional Italian foods that you must eat in Italy!
1. Arancini – snacks made from rice flour and stuffed with a mince-based ragu, mozzarella cheese, and peas. The arancini are shaped like balls and deep-fried.
2. Bruschetta – If you’ve ever eaten at an Italian restaurant, then you’ve likely sampled bruschetta, a baked bread smothered in olive oil, salt, pepper, and some basil. In some cases, bruschetta is also served with a salsa style topping, cheese, cured meats, or some kind of olive tapenade.
3. Cheeses – Italy produces many varieties of cheese, and there are over 45 Denominazione d’Origine Protetta (Protected Designation of Origin) cheese in Italy. Some of the must try cheese include the Fiore Sardo, Gorogonzola, Provolone, Grana Pardano, Pecorino Romano, Castelmango, Asiago and Fontina.
1. Spaghetti alla Carbonara – You might feel that Carbonara pasta is something that can be found in any part of the world. What’s special about this dish is that it is one of the most authentic Italian recipes that exists. Prepared with Pecorino Romano cheese, fresh eggs, guanciale, and pepper, this spaghetti dish is pure magic. And no, you are not going to find a spec of cream or milk in an authentic Italian Spaghetti alla Carbonara.
2. Gnocchi – This traditional Italian variety of fresh pasta is quite similar to dumplings. Today, the word gnocchi usually refers to pasta made with potato-based dough shaped into thick bite-sized pieces and pressed into a ribbed wooden board or grater to create an imprint, which helps the sauce to adhere to each piece.
3. Pesto alla Genoese – Pounded pine nuts and Parmigiano cheese combine to create this pesto sauce.
4. Tagliatelle al ragù alla Bolognese – a traditional Italian dish originating from Bologna, consisting of tagliatelle pasta and a rich ragù made with beef (and sometimes pork) and tomatoes as key ingredients. In Italy this pasta bears little or no resemblance to the dish known as spaghetti Bolognese in the rest of the world. In fact, the world famous Italian ragù alla Bolognese meat sauce is never served with spaghetti in Bologna. Instead, when it isn’t served over fresh tagliatelle, you will most often find it topping a bed of some other other ribbon-like pasta, such as fettuccine or pappardelle.
The home of modern pizzas, Italy changed the way the world eats. You can’t go to Italy and not have pizza. Although some form of pizza existed since the Neolithic ages, the classic pizza Margherita was invented in 1889 in the Neapolitan Pizza Banderi restaurant in honor of Queen Margherita. More pizzas became popular in the late 19th century, and soon became the world’s favorite dinner.
1. Pizza alla Napoletana – Neapolitan Pizza made with tomato, mozzarella and anchovy.
2. Pizza Pescatore – Fisherman’s pizza made with squid and mussels.
3. Pizza Ai Frutti Di Mare – Seafood pizza with scampi, mussels and squid.
4. Pizza Al Taglio – Pizza baked in a square or rectangular tray, cut into squares, and sold by the slice.
From expertly layered chocolate cakes to cream-filled pastries to boozy breads soaked in rum, searching for mouthwatering treats in Italy is as easy as searching for pigeons in St. Mark’s square or masterpieces at the Uffizi. Here are the absolute must try desserts.
1.Tiramisu- In Italian, the name “tiramisu” literally translates to “pick me up,” and anyone who tastes this coffee-flavored dessert can attest that you must. Made with a mixture of whipped egg yolks, mascarpone, sugar, cocoa, and lady fingers dipped in coffee, this specialty graces the dessert menu of practically every Italian restaurant or trattoria. If you like chocolate mousse and coffee, you’ll be a fan of the texture and delicious flavor of this classic dessert.
2. Gelato – Available on every street corner. While a lot of people presume that Gelato is the Italian equivalent of the western ice cream but if you ask an Italian, they would not agree to it. Gelato is prepared with a lesser amount of fat, water, and air which makes it more flavorful and sweet. No day in Italy is complete without grabbing a gelato while roaming the streets.
3. Cannoli – This sweet baked pastry can now be found all over Italy and is rolled into little tubes which are then filled with a creamy ricotta. While traditional cannolis are filled simply with sweetened ricotta, more modern dishes include a whole variety of fruit flavors.
4. Torrone – a kind of nougat made from honey, toasted almonds, sugar, and egg white. This sweet can be found all over Southern Europe and is known as ‘Turrón’ in Spanish.
I could go on and on about focaccia and risotto and neopolitan pizza but for now I’ll just advise you arrive hungry in Italy. If you’re looking for more tips on Italy or need help planning a trip, reach out to [email protected] We also are hosting a group trip in June and we still have a few spots left, check it out here: ITALY TRIP