10 Traditional Italian Food and Desserts That Are Delicious!

Italy is a country with a rich culture, but it’s also known around the world for the diversity and quality of its dishes. Whether you are thinking about traveling to Italy, or you simply want to visit a new Italian restaurant, don’t forget to try some of this traditional Italian food.

1. Pizza

Of course, pizza can now be eaten anywhere around the world, and it can be enjoyed with different sauces and toppings. But pizza as we know it today is considered to have been invented in the city of Naples, Italy.

Be sure to try Margherita pizza, which combines tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and basil. You should also know that Neapolitan-style pizza has a thick and fluffy crust, while Roman-style pizza has a very thin one.

2. Pasta

It’s impossible to visit Italy and to not eat at least one pasta dish. This is one of the classic traditional Italian food dishes after all. Many Italian regions have their own specialty when it comes to pasta: let’s only mention fettuccine Alfredo, spaghetti alla bolognese, ravioli, cannelloni al ragù, linguini, and, of course, carbonara.

Real carbonara is usually made with spaghetti, eggs, pecorino cheese, and guanciale, a cured meat product. Many restaurants can serve you a plate of carbonara, but only a few will serve you a great one.

3. Lasagne

Just like pizza, lasagne is a traditional Italian food said to have been invented in the city of Naples. This dish of flat pasta layered with cheese, vegetables, ground meat and a variety of sauces is now being enjoyed all around the world.

Traditional Italian lasagne does not involve a lot of tomato sauce, but it’s prepared differently depending on where you are in Italy.

4. Risotto

Italy is the largest producer of rice in all of Europe. Risotto is a traditional rice dish that consists of cooking arborio or carneroli rice in broth, until it reaches a creamy texture. Butter, vegetables, cheese, or spices such as saffron can be added to the dish.

Be sure to try risotto alla milanese, or another variety such as risotto al nero di sepia, risotto alla zucca, risotto alla pilote, and risi e bisi, which is more like a thick soup.

5. Arancini

Arancini are a dish of fried stuffed rice balls that originally comes from Sicily. They are usually filled with ragù sauce, cheese, and some vegetables, but many varieties are available, featuring different sauces, cheeses, and other ingredients.

If you want to eat great arancini, be sure they have been fried right after you ordered them. Many of them are made in advance, and it’s simply not the same.

6. Polenta

In some parts of Italy, polenta is more popular than pasta as a side dish. It’s made with boiled cornmeal, although it used to be made with any grains that were available. It can be served as a hot mush, or formed into a loaf and cut into slices.

Real polenta takes a long time to cook. Maybe you have already tried instant polenta, which is done in just a few minutes, but nothing compares to the real thing.

7. Osso bucco alla Milanese

Osso bucco alla Milanese comes from the Lombardy region of Italy. This traditional Italian food recipe consists of a bone-in veal shank which is cooked for about 3 hours in white wine and broth, until it is tender enough to melt in your mouth.

Osso bucco is usually served with vegetables, and either risotto or polenta. Gremolata, a condiment made of lemon zest, garlic and parsley, is often added to the dish.

8. Bistecca alla Fiorentina

Bistecca alla Fiorentina, or Fiorentina steak, is a popular dish in the Italian region of Tuscany. It consists of a thick T-bone steak that traditionally comes from a Chianina cow. It’s cooked a few minutes on each side, and served very rare.

Fiorentina steak is meant to be shared, so if you are looking for a meat dish for two people, you should definitely give it a try.

9. Gelato

When it’s time for dessert, think about gelato. Although gelato means “ice cream”, it is definitely not the same as regular ice cream. Gelato contains less fat, and also more flavour.

Real artisan gelato will melt in your mouth much faster than ice cream, and it’s usually made from seasonal fruits. Of course, many different flavours are available, and you might never be able to get a taste of all of them.

10. Tiramisu

Tiramisu is another well-known Italian dessert that many people enjoy. It’s made from ladyfingers, mascarpone cheese, coffee, eggs, cocoa, and sugar, and it’s usually eaten cold.

The traditional recipe has been modified and improved many times, so tiramisu can now feature fruits, yogurt, amaretto, Marsala wine, or other types of liquor. However, there is nothing like eating original tiramisu in Italy, or in an Italian restaurant.

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