Italy draws tourists and travellers not just because of its unique culture, stunning scenery and historic architecture, but also because of its rich cuisine filled with gastronomical delights. The land offers countless must-eat foods that are both famous and traditional. And, we are not talking about just pizzas here. A vast array of popular Italian delicacies await your discovery.
To help you on your Italian dining extravaganza, here are the top Italian dishes every traveller must taste when visiting Italy. Once you’ve tasted these dishes, you’ll know what to order next when you dine in authentic Italian restaurants such as La Piazza Dario and others from different parts of the globe. Other than the food, it pays to plan your trip well and look for some great rentals in Italy for a fraction of a price.
Bigoli is the signature pasta from the Veneto region. You are sure to favour it over spaghetti, and unlike spaghetti, bigoli noodles are thicker and tubular with a hole in the middle. Bigoli noodles are made from buckwheat flour and duck eggs and served with a simple sauce, vegetables, and roasted wild duck. One can garnish their dish with a sprinkle of Parmesan and some parsley. The fine and delicate recipe belongs to the Veneto region traditionally and Veneto region traditionally.
With the number of restaurants offering Bigoli in Italy, you’ll never run out of options on what to order. Today, you can order Bigoli that comes with sweet or spicy sauces.
Ribollita is traditionally looked upon as a poor man’s food. In early times, servants collected unfinished bread and vegetables, boiled them in water to prepare their meals. Today, Ribollita is a very popular dish that is rich and hearty and full of flavours. Despite its humble beginnings, it has become Tuscany’s most delicious and important dish. The peasant bean soup is an important part of food tours and is everybody’s favourite.
The ingredients needed in making a Ribollita has changed through the years but, traditionally, this dish has cannellini beans, leftover bread, cabbage, Lacinato kale, and some other inexpensive vegetables like carrots, celery, chard, potatoes, and onions.
3. Osso buco Alla Milanese
Osso buco alla Milanese is a meat dish that one must try in Italy. The name hails from Milan and Ossobuco means or “bone with a hole.” Marrowbones and veal shanks have been popularly used in Italian cooking since the middle ages. One just can’t go wrong with veal shanks that have been braized slowly in white wine and vegetables. The dish is served with a tangy, garlicky gremolata. There several modern variations of the dish that is made with tomatoes. Enjoy the rich, buttery marrow deep inside the veal bones, and it is indeed the best part of the dish!
Bottarga is a delicacy in Sardinia and Sicily and popularly known as the “caviar of the south.” The ingredient is salted, cured mullet roe and is in many Southern Italian dishes because of its rich, salty flavour. It is made after removing roe from the fish carefully, and the fish are left to dry in the sun after rinsing and salting them for two days. They are later, pressed between pieces of wood that give them a long, rectangular shape. It is grated over linguine and shaved atop bitter greens. One can enjoy it with crostini or n buttered bread or have it thinly sliced and served with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. It is simply heavenly when served with a salad of fresh basil and sliced cherry tomatoes.
Canederli comes from Italy’s Trentino-Alto Adige region and is made in a similar way like Ribollita. The leftover bread is mixed with eggs and milk to make a golf ball-sized dumpling which looks very similar to the German knödel. Cheese and spices are added for extra flavour before boiling canederli in chicken or beef broth. You can enjoy canederli in a shallow pool of broth or have it served “dry” with melted butter. This is the perfect comfort food in winters.
6. Risi e Bisi
Risi e Bisi means rice and peas. While it may not sound like a sophisticated and tasty dish, it is very rich and flavorful. The rice and peas are cooked with stock, and traditional seasonings are added just like risotto. There is no need to stir constantly and what you get in the end is a delicious and exquisitely balanced dish.
The Risi e Bisi is already a great dish on its own but some restaurants in Italy serve it with bacon, lemon, or steak on top. Some restaurants would also offer side dishes such as bread and potatoes to be paired with your Risi e Bisi.
7. Tortellini en Brodo
Tortellini en brodo is a staple dish for many families in northern Italy. The dish is served in a simple, homemade chicken broth and topped with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan. Also known as Giorgio. Tortellini are ring-shaped pasta that is stuffed with are ring-shaped pasta. They are usually served in beef and chicken broth. The dish is a true example of Italian simplicity, and it is simply delightful to have a warm broth flavoured with vegetables and sage and tender tortellini.
Tortellini en brodo is already a pasta and doesn’t require any side dish. However, if you want to order some when you dine in Italian restaurants, opt to have a small salad as the side dish. A small salad goes well with the Tortellini en brodo as vegetables will not overpower the ingredients of the pasta.
8. Focaccia di recco
Liguria is simply loved for serving Focaccia di recco. The dish happens to be region’s tastiest and simplest specialties. What you have here is a thin sheet of baked focaccia topped with a creamy layer of crescenza cheese in the middle. It is very similar to grilled cheese and simply delicious. The delicious snack can be enjoyed anytime during the day.
If you’re a cheese lover, the Focaccia di recco should be the first thing you should order when in Italy. This is a tasty and filling snack, especially when eaten fresh. Aside from tasting the Focaccia di recco made from the traditional recipe, more and more restaurants are also making this dish with a twist. When you visit Italy, you’ll be able to order Focaccia di recco that come in spicy and sweet variants.
Cacciucco will spice up your love for fish and sea food. The spicy, zesty seafood stew was made by fishmongers historically and might contain monkfish, squid, shellfish and even octopus. The dish is native to Livorno and the fish is cooked in a rich tomato and chile-based broth. Sage and garlic are served for flavors, and the dish is served with crusty bread.
Enjoy the country bread that is sliced, toasted and topped with different toppings. This is a great and classic Italian starter, and it is amazing how innovative Italians can be with bruschetta. The Tuscan bread can be enjoyed with fruity olive oil, fat red tomatoes or tomato-basil or the inventive mushroom-garlic.
Key Takeaway Points
If you thought Italian food was just about heavy pasta and pizza and cream sauces, it is time to think again. Contrary to popular belief, Italy is actually a very diverse country that offers countless dishes with a rich history. Regardless if you want to enjoy sweet, salty or spicy foods, Italy will always have something to offer to you. With the dishes mentioned in this article, you’ll know now what to order when you travel to Italy.