Why deny it? we love everything about Italy. The country has great weather, good people and…great food! Here’s a look at 10 must-try (and delicious) Italian dishes you can’t miss when in Italy.
Italian cuisine stands out for using a wide variety of vegetables, pasta, rice, meat, and fish. With fresh and quality ingredients cooked in a simple way to obtain a festival of flavors, it is a good example of a Mediterranean diet. In the following list, we have included a few dishes that showcase the gastronomic philosophy of the Italians very well. As the backbone of their culture, they are serious about sharing authentic food around a table!
Here are 10 amazing Italian dishes that you should try when visiting Italy.
1. Pesto alla Genovese
Originally from Genoa, pesto sauce transcended this Italian coastal city to become one of pasta’s best companions internationally. This simple and delicious specialty, made from basil, garlic, salt, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and olive oil, has an intense and sumptuous flavor that is now a favorite worldwide.
2. Bistecca alla Fiorentina
Carnivore’s delight. Florentine steak is a traditional Tuscan veal or beef steak, characterized by its thickness and including the bone. It is usually prepared on the grill with olive oil, black pepper, and aromatic herbs, with servings that can reach up to 500 grams of meat, sometimes even more! Bistecca alla Fiorentina is best accompanied by Chianti wine. A must have if you are visiting Florence, Siena or Pisa.
3. Cacio e Pepe
Cacio e pepe is the name given to this typical pasta dish from Rome. It means ‘cheese and pepper’ in Roman dialect, as the sauce is made with black pepper and pecorino cheese. As for the pasta, you can use tonnarelli spaghetti or thin noodles. Simple and filling, the origins of this dish date back to the days when the Roman population lived in poverty.
Ribollita, meaning “reboiled” in English, is a hearty Italian dish. This soup is a “highly energetic” mixture prepared with beans and assorted vegetables. Other “leftovers” can also be added to make it even tastier. It is very easy to prepare but must be boiled for a few hours (hence its name). It is a perfect dish to warm the body up on winter days.
5. Risotto Milanese
Risotto is another essential dish of Italian cuisine. As its name suggests, it originates from Milan. This dish stands out for the yellowish color that saffron gives it, and its delicate and mellow flavor is unmistakable. Legend has it that a disciple of the painter Valerio di Fiandra, who worked in the Duomo of Milan, wanted to surprise his guests at his wedding reception and prepared rice with the saffron he used to dye the stained-glass windows. Luckily, it was an edible dye!
Are you a thick or thin crust pizza type? The former, soft and spongy, was created in Naples. The second, thin and crispy, originated in Rome. By adding tomato sauce, cheese and condiments for flavor, pizza has become one of the most widespread foods in the world. Today, there are countless versions and varieties around America.
Caponata is a Sicilian specialty consisting of grilled eggplant with other vegetables (peppers, carrots, potatoes…), forming a salad that is dressed with vinegar, capers and sweet and sour sauce. Nowadays it is usually served as a starter or side dish, especially for fish dishes. There is also a Neapolitan version of caponata, called cianfotta.
8. Lasagna al forno (Baked Lasagna)
Lasagna is not only Garfield’s favorite food but also one of the most internationally known Italian dishes. The most typical recipe is prepared with sheets of pasta layered with Bolognese sauce, béchamel sauce and cheese, although you can give free rein to your creativity by changing the filling with vegetables, fish, etc.
Did you know that the word tiramisu means pick me up in Italian? That’s right, these delicious desserts were created as a snack, to give you enough energy to get through the day. As one of Italy’s most popular sweets, this coffee-soaked sponge cake with mascarpone and whipped cream is so creamy it melts in your mouth.
It is not a dish per se, but to finish the list we had to include digestivo. In Italy, a shot of limoncello, grappa or amaretto, among others, is essential to make the meal go down, and is the final part of the Italian gastronomic ritual. We are not sure if these liqueurs have digestive properties, but wherever you go, do as you please!
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