Italian cuisine is among the most delicious on the planet. Therefore, it is easy to write an entire book about Italy’s top foods to eat. However, the number is almost infinite, and once you add in the regional dishes, desserts, and drinks, it is like counting stars- infinite! So, therefore, let’s get right to it.
Beautiful Italy is known for its extraordinary culinary delights, a land rich in warmth, art, music, architecture, history, and cuisine. This country offers dishes that the entire globe appreciates, unique and inimitable.
Whether it is pizza, lasagne, spaghetti, or gelato, these and many others are among the delicious foods born in Italy and are appreciated everywhere. So let us discover the main Italian foods, a gastronomic journey through the boot-shaped peninsula, from the north to south, to the sound of a fork to salivate you to a mouthful of recipes.
Here are the top dinner food in Italy:
- Spaghetti carbonara
- Ragù alla Bolognese
- Neapolitan pizza
- Cotoletta Alla Milanese
- Bombardino Cocktail
- Conchiglie Pasta
- Salsiccia Sausage
Lets look on each one in detailed
Lasagne is one of the most famous traditional Italian dishes that has become famous and evolved worldwide. However, its origins date back to Naples or Emilia-Romagna, where we can still find the authentic version.
Lasagne consists of a beef ragu and vegetables layered between pasta sheets and bechamel sauce, topped with cheeses, which can be parmesan or mozzarella and the entire dish is oven-baked.
Lasagna was never made with tomatoes, as it became known well before tomatoes spread from the New World in the 16th century. Ragu instead encompassed the rich meat stock flavours complimented by red wine and is the delicious core of the traditional Italian lasagne.
To make the best Lasagna at home, follow this step-by-step recipe.
While Italy is not mainly well known for its rice dishes, risotto is a unique and unreserved part of traditional Italian cuisine. In the Northern parts of Italy, risotto is a creamy rice dish cooked in a broth with saffron, wine, butter, and onion. Fish, meat, and vegetables are sometimes added depending on the region, including shrimp, cuttlefish, peas, mushroom, chicken, bacon, or chorizo.
First, heat the butter and some oil in a pan before adding onions, white wine, and broth. Rice is then added and simmered over low heat before adding the final seasonings and the toppings. The result is a thick creamy, rich texture that packs a real punch.
To make the best risotto at home, follow this step-by-step recipe.
3. Spaghetti carbonara
Carbonara is another classic spaghetti dish typically associated with Italian cooking and eaten worldwide. Italian cuisine is an absolute haven of delicious pasta dishes, so it isn’t easy to pick just one, but the carbonara encompasses the simplicity of authentic Italian cooking.
Reportedly originating in Rome, carbonara comes from spaghetti, guanciale pork cheek, egg, often replaced by pancetta, lardons, or bacon in adapted versions with cheese and black pepper. The difference between good and bad carbonara is simply misusing the ingredients or replacing the essential aspects. And, for example, using cream instead of creating the sauce from scratch. Likewise, the pasta and the cheeses are interchangeable, with linguine or fettuccine. It substitutes the spaghetti and parmesan, sometimes replacing the pecorino romano.
Carbonara combines raw eggs with cheese pecorino romano or parmesan, then adds to hot pasta with fried guanciale pork cheek and black pepper.
To make the best Spaghetti carbonara at home, follow this step-by-step recipe.
It was cooked for the first time using the leftover risotto to create a uniquely Italian snack. Arancini are stuffed rice balls coated in flour and breadcrumbs and fried to a golden brown colour, but there are numerous variations of arancini depending on the region. Arancini con ragù is the most common arancini utilizing the famous Italian tomato, meat sauce ragu with mozzarella and peas. It is found all around Italy.
To make the best Arancini at home, follow this step-by-step recipe.
5. Ragù alla Bolognese
Ragu is a meat-based sauce commonly used in many Italian pasta dishes. It is made with ground meat, finely chopped sauteed celery and carrot, tomatoes, red wine, stock, and milk, cooked on low heat for three or more hours. The ingredients vary by region in Italy, include different meats and liquids, and often exclude tomatoes.
Ragù alla bolognese uses fresh tagliatelle instead of dried spaghetti. It is less heavy on the tomato sauce. Furthermore, the dish does not use oregano, basil, or garlic as a spaghetti bolognese and certainly doesn’t go anywhere near cheddar cheese!
Follow this step-by-step recipe to make the best Ragù alla bolognese at home.
6. Neapolitan pizza
Pizza is undoubtedly the most exported dish of all the traditional Italian dishes, being eaten in nearly every country globally. Neapolitan pizza is authentic and straightforward, consisting solely of a dough base with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and olive oil.
However, other pizza variations are still authentic in Italy, including pizza Margherita and marinara. Traditionally, Italian-style pizza is relatively small and is just a serving for one, taking only approximately two minutes to cook in a pizza oven. Moreover, too many toppings are inauthentic or of less quality because fewer ingredients show confidence in the quality of the products used to make this dish.
All the other evolutions of pizza developed outside of Italy. But the traditional pizza recipe is still quite prevalent throughout the world.
To make the best Neapolitan pizza at home, follow this step-by-step recipe.
Agnolotti is a stuffed pasta cooked by pressing pasta dough with roasted meat or vegetables with an effortless sauce so as not to distract too much from the flavour. Agnolotti is similar to ravioli, with the main difference being that Agnolotti comes from folded over pasta rather than two square pieces like ravioli.
To make the best Agnolotti at home, follow this step-by-step recipe.
Sfogliatella is a pastry similar to the croissant, the only exception being it comes in the shape of a lobster tail. In addition, it comes with sweet ingredients such as orange-flavoured ricotta, candied citron peel, or almond paste. Despite Italy’s incredible reputation for their savoury dishes, Italians also have a penchant for sweet treats, of which Sfogliatella is a prevalent choice.
To make the best Sfogliatella at home, follow this step-by-step recipe.
Prosciutto is also an antipasto in regular Italian meals, and simply dry-cured, uncooked ham cut thinly into slices is used to make them. Even though the prosciutto is served raw, it is also safe to eat due to its curing process. It is commonly made from the thigh or hind leg wrapped around a breadstick (grissini) or with melon and served. There are many other uses for the prosciutto, usually included in pasta dishes or stuffings of different meats.
While you can buy different variants of prosciutto according to the various Italian regions, the most famous among them is prosciutto di Parma or Parma ham, which is developed over up to twenty-four months by salting the air-drying process.
To make the best prosciutto at home, follow this step-by-step recipe.
It is considered one of Tuscany’s most famous dishes. Ribollita has its roots in the peasantry, which mainly the servants make from leftovers. Ribollita is a hot soup made of bread and vegetables like cannellini beans, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, onion, and celery. In earlier days, servants would collect the unfinished leftovers from their masters and boil the different ingredients to make a hearty, filling meal.
All the ingredients are put together in a large pot of boiling water and stewed for an hour, making the bread fall apart into a thick consistency. It is commonly found in Tuscany and is a must-try for tourists travelling to the region.
To make the best Ribollita at home, follow this step-by-step recipe.
Tortellini are small parcels of stuffed pasta, interestingly nicknamed ‘belly button’ due to their shape. In Northern Italy, on Christmas day, tortellini is eaten as one of the many courses in the traditional Italian meal. They are most commonly stuffed with meat prosciutto or pork loin and cheese and served in a broth.
There are different types of stuffing ingredients depending on the variation of tortellini. But the emphasis with tortellini is on using fresh, quality ingredients, as is typical with Italian cooking. In addition, of course, Parmesan and Italian seasonings will add depth of flavour.
To make the best tortellini at home, follow this step-by-step recipe.
Look out for more recipes below:
12. Cotoletta Alla Milanese
Crisp, golden breadcrumbs are coating a tender veal chop: the cotoletta alla milanese is a classic of Milan’s cuisine, with saffron-stained risotto, panettone and osso buco. It gets its name from the type of cut the meat traditionally used, la costoletta, an inch-thick bone-in veal chop, corresponding to a prime rib cut, such as rib-eye. The second version of the cotoletta is made with a beaten-out-till-enormous-thin cutlet of veal, aptly called l’orecchia di elefante (elephant’s ear). It is for those who like their fried goods crunchy all the way.
Follow this step-by-step recipe to make the best Cotoletta Alla Milanese at home.
13. Bombardino Cocktail
Bombardino is an Italian alcoholic cocktail prepared with egg liqueur, cream, and whiskey, which can be rum or brandy. It is the most popular winter cocktail in the world.
Due to the warm temperature at which it comes with alcohol content, the bombardino is a great relief on cold winter days. As a result, it has been the go-to alcoholic drink on the Italian ski slopes.
Over time, the recipe for the Bombardino has evolved, keeping only two key elements constant: the alcohol content, which is up to 30% vol) and the hot zabaglione (a liqueur made from egg yolk, sugar, and Marsala). In some cases, milk is used instead of cream, and whiskey by brandy.
Follow this step-by-step recipe to make the best Bombardino Cocktail at home.
14. Conchiglie Pasta
Conchiglie Pasta on its own is not a dish, but since it is one of the most popular pasta shapes throughout Italy and the entire world, it deserves its place on the list. In addition, Conchiglie Pasta is uniquely seashell-shaped, which means that it holds the thick sauces together, both on the surface area to cling to and as a handy little pocket. Sometimes, many Conchiglie recipes will stuff a filling into the individual shells creating a stuffed pasta.
To make the best Conchiglie Pasta at home, follow this step-by-step recipe.
15. Salsiccia Sausage
Salsiccia is a well-known Italian sausage prepared using minced or ground pork meat, pork fat, and spices. Salsiccia goes quite well as the main dish, sometimes used as a sandwich filling, a topping on the traditional pizzas, or used as an ingredient in the pasta sauces or casseroles. Salsiccia is not just prevalent within Italy but is widely loved and consumed in the United States. This dish is mainly familiar with pork sausage spiced with fennel or anise in the US.
To make the best Salsiccia Sausage at home, follow this step-by-step recipe.
What is a typical dinner in Italy?
Italians keep things light for their last meal of the day. A typical dinner might include soup, cold cuts, or a small plate of pasta, served with vegetables and a small piece of cheese. Snacks and sweets.
Which is the most popular pasta dish in Italy?
Italy’s most famous pasta is penne. It is quill-shaped pasta unusual in that it has an exact origin.
To cook Italian food means to cook love—from the epic meatballs to the classic lasagne to risotto, there is everything you could imagine here to get your creative Italian juices flowing. So throw on an apron, campers, because making marinara is a thing, and we recommend you get fully involved.
Let us face it, no other cuisine in the history of the world has been so renowned and beloved as Italian. The secret is simplicity. Most home cooks come from their grandmother’s shoulders, and what is incredible is that most of those recipes have not changed that much since a few generations ago. Those old-school recipes include only a few key ingredients, and the game’s name is high quality. So when you are making a recipe with just a handful of ingredients, go for some organic garlic and high-quality olive oil—it’ll make a difference! Ciao!