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20 Best Italian Foods You Must Try in Italy

20 Best Italian Foods You Must Try in Italy

Italian cuisine is a culinary adventure for everyone, rich and flavorful. It's possible that the appeal of Italian cuisine stems from the fact that it's virtually always prepared from scratch with fresh ingredients. Here are some traditional Italian cuisine that you'll enjoy, ranging from simple pizzas to not-so-complicated pasta, antipasti (appetizers), and desserts.

1. Arancini & Suppli

Arancini & Suppli

Arancini, also known as arancine, are rice-flour-based appetizers stuffed with a mince-based ragu, mozzarella cheese, and peas. The arancini are deep-fried balls fashioned like arancini. This dish, which dates back to the 10th century in Sicily, is generally conical in shape to reflect Mount Etna.

2. Bruschetta


Bruschetta is an antipasto or appetizer dish from Italy that is comparable to garlic bread. Toasted bread is sprinkled with garlic and olive oil, and beans, vegetables, meat, tomatoes, basil, and cheese are occasionally added.

Although bruschetta is said to have originated in 15th-century Italy, it may be traced all the way back to Ancient Rome, when olive producers would sample freshly extracted oil with bread pieces.

3. Cheeses


Italy produces a wide range of cheeses, with around 45 Denominazione d'Origine Protetta (Protected Designation of Origin) cheeses. The DOP emblem ensured that a certain cheese is an authentic Italian product.

Fiore Sardo, Gorogonzola, Provolone, Grana Padano, Pecorino Romano, Castelmango, Asiago, and Fontina are some of the must-try cheeses.

4. Carpaccio


Carpaccio is great if you like sushi. Giuseppe Cipriani invented the dish in Venice in 1950, and it quickly became popular throughout Italy. Cipriani named the dish after the legendary painter Carpaccio.

It's made of raw beef or raw fish that's been thinly pounded or thinly sliced. Carpaccio is served with salt, pepper, and vinegar or lemon. The ideal starter for any dinner!

5. Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

This Caprese Salad delivers the freshness of summer to your dish with its simplicity that reaches new heights.

It's a light salad made with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, sweet basil, and olive oil, and it's called after the island of Capri, where it may have originated.

6. Saltimbocca


The Saltimbocca or Saltinbocca is a sort of veal cutlet famous in Rome. Its name means "jump in the mouth."

It's made of veal that's been wrapped in prosciutto and sage. Saltimbocca alla Romana is the classic version, which is made using butter and white wine.

The components are not rolled up in other variations; instead, they are spread out flat and pinned together with a toothpick. As a starter, try this!

7. Pasta


Are you familiar with the distinctions between anelloni, anellini, and anelli? Or what's the difference between spaghetti, spaghettini, and spaghettoni? The anellini and spaghettini are smaller variants of the anelli and spaghetti, respectively, whereas the anelloni and spaghettoni are larger.

Did you know there are over 350 different kinds of pasta?

Bucatini, ziti, torchio, cavatappi, creste di galli, fiori, penne, riccioli...

Italian pasta sauces, on the other hand, are a little easier to remember than Italian spaghetti dishes.

But which Italian pasta dish should you try?

These are our favorites, but if you have the chance, try them all!

- Spaghetti carbonara - A creamy pasta dish made with Parmesan cheese, eggs, pepper, and olive oil, topped with cured meats like pancetta or guanciale.

- Boscaiola - This meal literally translates to "the woodcutter's wife" because it uses porcini mushrooms instead of chicken or pork.

- Ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, and pecorino cheese ravioli – This meal is classic comfort food, made with ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, and pecorino cheese.

- Fettuccine al burro, often known as Fettuccine Alfredo, is a simple icon of Italian goodness made of cheese and butter.

- Spaghetti alla Vongole - clams and spaghetti.

- Cacio e pepe - This creamy and peppery dish is produced with only two ingredients: cheese and pepper.

- Pesto alla Genovese (Genovese Pesto) – This pesto sauce is made with pounded pine nuts and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

8. Lasagne or Lasagna


Okay, we realize lasagna is a type of pasta, but it deserves its own spot on our list!

Lasagna is the ultimate pasta meal, and it's pure comfort food! Ground meats, cheese, tomato sauce, and spices are piled over flat sheets of pasta and baked before being sliced into squares and served. Lasagne was originally recorded in the 14th-century cookbook Liber de Coquina, and it originated in Naples.

Meatballs, boiled eggs, various cheeses, and a Neapolitan ragu sauce are all included in the traditional lasagne di carnevale. Bolognese or Bechamel sauce are used in other lasagna variations.

9. Risotto


Risotto is a rice dish that is cooked in a meat, vegetable, or fish broth until it becomes creamy. It is originally from the Lombardy region of Northern Italy. There are many excellent risotto variants to choose from.

- Risotto ai funghi (mushroom risotto) - This dish is made with porcini or portobello mushrooms.

- Risotto alla Milanese - This risotto is cooked with beef stock, fat, cheese, and saffron and hails from Milan.

- Risotto alla zucca - Risotto with pumpkin and cheese.

- Risotto al nero di seppia — A black-colored risotto cooked with cuttlefish from the Venetian region.

10. Polenta


Polenta is a cornmeal and cheese dish that originated in Central and Northern Italy and is now a staple snack throughout the country. Polenta, a rice or porridge alternative, combines well with grilled or barbecued meats and vegetables.

Polenta can also be fried or baked and topped with a variety of sauces and toppings.

11. Ossobuco


The marrow bone hole in a veal shank is known as ossobuco or osso buco. It's no surprise that Osso Buco means "bone with a hole."

Ossobuco is a rustic veal stew made by braising cross-cut veal shanks in a beef broth with white wine, bay leaves, cinnamon, and gremolata sauce, a traditional Lombardy meal. Tomatoes, onions, celery, and carrots are included in the current version.

The ‘oss buss,' as it is known in Milan, was proclaimed part of the Denominazioni Comunali in 2007, verifying that the dish belongs to that region of Lombardy.

12. Bisteca Fiorentina

Bisteca Fiorentina

The Bisteca Fiorentine, also known as Fiorentine Steak or Bisteca alla Fiorentina, is a traditional Tuscan dish from Florence. The House of Medici is claimed to have roasted veal and distributed it to the populace on the feast of Saint Lawrence (10 August) in the 15th century.

When English travelers were fed the meat, they referred to it as beef steak, which is Italian for bistecca. Since then, the dish has been known as bistecca Fiorentine.

The Fiorentine Steak is generally served rare and is made with veal from the famous Chianina animal.

13. Parmigiana


Deep-frying eggplant pieces, stacking them with tomato sauce and cheese, and then baking them is how parmagiana is produced. Instead of eggplant, some variations utilize zucchini or chicken.

Both Sicily and Campania claim credit for inventing the dish, which is also known as parmigiana di melanzane or melanzane alla parmigiana.

Parmagiana is the ultimate comfort dish, regardless matter where you eat it in Italy.

14. Pizza


Italy, the birthplace of contemporary pizza, revolutionized the way the world eats. Pizza is a must-have when visiting Italy.

Despite the fact that pizza has been around since the Neolithic era, the iconic Margherita pizza was created in 1889 in the Neapolitan Pizza Banderi restaurant in honor of Queen Margherita. In the late nineteenth century, more pizzas were popular, and they quickly became the world's favorite dinner.

Here are a few Italian pizzas you should try:

- Margherita Pizza - Tomatoes and mozzarella

- Pizza Ai Frutti Di Mare - Scampi, mussels, and squid on a seafood pizza.

- Pizza Pescatore - Squid and mussel pizza created by a fisherman.

- Pizza alla Napoletana - Pizza from Naples Tomato, mozzarella, and anchovies on a pizza.

- Pizza Ai Quattro Formaggi — Mozzarella, Parmesan, Gorgonzola, and Ricotta are commonly used on four-cheese pizzas.

- Pizza al Taglio - Pizza prepared in a square or rectangular tray and sold by the slice.

Tip: Because there is just one restaurant in town with a permit to run a stone oven, most pizzas in Venice aren't really Italian. I recommend visiting Naples and the neighboring areas for the tastiest pizza in Italy.

15. Gelato


This frozen treat is not at all like ice cream. Gelatos are unique and artisanal, made with only 3.25 percent milk and fruit purees.

Gelatos come in a variety of tastes, including chocolate, almond, chestnut, hazelnut, stracciatella, fior di latte, zuppa inglese, frutti di bosco, mela, malaga, tarocco, liquirizia, granita, and semifreddo.

16. Tiramisu


This espresso-soaked ladyfinger dessert has no introduction! Any dessert lover will enjoy the layers of coffee-soaked savoiardi in mascarpone cheese with a coating of chocolate powder. You'll be in dessert nirvana if you find a restaurant that offers it with Frangelico or Disaronno.

17. Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta

This sweetened cream delicacy hails from the Piedmont region and is translated as "baked cream." Panna cotta is a fashionable method to sample Italian cuisine, served with a chocolate sauce or liqueur, or a coulis of fruits such as strawberry or other berries.

18. Sfogliatella


Multiple layers of thinly stacked leaves were used to create this shell-shaped pastry. It was first developed in the 17th century in the convent of Santa Rosa in the village of Conca dei Marini in Salerno.

A different kind of bliss is the flaky crust packed with silky cream and fruit. Candied orange, cinnamon, ricotta cheese, honey, cranberries, and custard cream are all options for fillings and toppings.

19. Panettone


The panettone is a compact loaf-style cake prepared from flour, candied lemons and oranges, and raisins.

The cup-shaped panettone comes from Milan's House of Sforza, but it could be as old as the Roman Empire.

The panettone has become so popular for Christmas that Italian food producers create around 7,100 tons of panettone each year, according to the Smithsonian magazine.

20. Cannoli


Cannoli, or singular cannolo, is derived from the word cane, which means tube or cane. They're flaky tube-shaped pastries created with wine added to the dough. They're then decorated with chocolate chips, candied fruit, cherries, pistachios, or nuts before being filled with a creamy ricotta cheese and sugar mixture.

You can see why they began as a fertility symbol during Carnival before becoming a perennial fixture in Sicily and other regions of Italy by looking at them.

Other Italian dishes you should try that almost made it to this list!

- Fritto Misto – Mixed fried seafood such as prawns, squid, sole, anchovies, or small sardines.

- Foccacia Bread – A yeast-based bread that’s often served with tomatoes and cheese.

- Pesto Bread – Bread with swirling layers of pesto sauce.

- Minestrone Soup – A hearty vegetable soup that’s popular across the country.

- Tartufo – Ice cream with a syrupy center covered with cocoa or chocolate shees.

How many of these iconic Italian foods and desserts have you tried in Italy? Which is your favorite? And which ones do you plan on trying next?

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