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What to eat when in Italy – 15 Must Eats


What would be a culinary trip through Italy without pasta? Italy has numerous pasta variants and dishes, I’m going to list some of the most popular ones here. If you are not a big fan of pasta, try gnocchi or polenta instead.

1. Spaghetti

Spaghetti is the name of the type of noodle but you can have them with different sauces or ‘toppings’. 

Famous spathetti dishes are  cacio e pepe, aglio e olio, puttanesca, carbonara and napoli.

2. Tagiatelle al ragù alla Bolognese

Tagiatelle is the name of the pasta type and ‘al ragù’ means basically ‘with meat sauce’. This can also accompany many dishes such as lasagna. The most popular meat sauce is probably ‘al ragù alla Bolognese’.

3. Tortellini

Another pasta classic. Usually stuffed with a mix of meat, cheese, eggs, and nutmeg.

The Classics

4. Minestrone

Minestrone is a vegetable soup. Rice or pasta often added to it but there is actually no set recipe. You can use the vegetables of your choice.

5. Pizza

I think there is not much to say about pizza, maybe that it’s originally from the region of Naples. Plus one fun fact: The name for a pizza baker is pizzaiolo. 

6. Risotto

Risotto is a northern Italian rice dish. There are different variations of the creamy cooked rice dish. Especially well known is the risotto Milanese.

7. Piadina

I don’t know why I rarely hear anyone talk about piadinas. They are simple, yet delicious. 

Thin Italian flatbread, filled either savory or sweet.

8. Ossobuco

Ossobucu is a specialty of the Lombardy region. This casserole gets the name from the type of meat cut used. ‘Osso buco’ means ‘bone with a hole’.

“arancini” by stu_spivack is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

9. Arancini and Supplì

Both are Italian rice ball snacks but with different ingredients. Arancini are usually coated with bread crumbs and then deep-fried and filled with ragù. Supplì on the other hand are made with tomato sauce.

Something Sweet

10. Tiramisu

A desert classic probably everyone knows about. Coffee-flavored dessert made with ladyfingers and mascarpone cheese.

11. Panna cotta

The base ingredients of panna cotta are sweetened cream and gelatin. In my opinion, what makes it so special are the different flavorings and toppings. For example strawberry or mango sauce.

12. Cannoli

I’ve been to Italy many times as a child but knew cannoli first from Carlos Cake Boss. Which I find kind of funny. Maybe they were not as common in the north of Italy back then, as they originated from Sicily, or maybe I just didn’t see them. Anyways they are a delicious pastry with a sweet ricotta cream filling.

“File:Sfogliatelle at breakfast.jpg” by Paul-in-London is licensed under CC BY 2.0

13. Sfogliatella

Sfogliatella is a shell-shaped filled pastry usually filled with custard or chocolate cream.

They originated from Naples but I’ve seen them throughout Italy. I highly recommend trying them!

14. Gelato

Even though ice cream did not originate from Italy, they really mastered it. With a wide range of flavors ready to be enjoyed on a warm summer day.

Something Unusual

15. Bottarga

Bottarga is salted cured fish roe. Often grated over pasta. A specialty not only eaten in Italy.

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