For those who appreciate vino (wine), antipasti and medieval architecture, a vacation in Italy is a dream come true. It is a country that hosts millions of tourists every year who can marvel at the magnificent churches, mansions and street fairs in famous cities like Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan.
For a more relaxing trip to the hills, Tuscany is where tourists spend most of their time. All the traditional Italian dishes are simply amazing wherever you go. Or you can always do as the Romans do, quite literally, in this country, by exclaiming: Ottimo ! This means that the food is delicious until the last bite.
With so many places to visit in Italy, working up an appetite is a prerequisite for every traveler. Below are the top 10 most iconic foods in Italy that you can eat on your next vacation:
Also read: Italy’s free wine fountain and other interesting Italian facts
1. Spaghetti alla carbonara
Standing high on the list of Italian foods you must try is spaghetti alla carbonara. Italians are very proud of the dish, so it is customary to appreciate every bite of it.
You might think that carbonara pasta is something that can be found in any part of the world. But the specialty of this dish is that it is one of the most evergreen Italian dishes that highlights the unique characteristic of this cuisine in the best possible way.
Topped with pecorino romano cheese, fresh eggs, guanciale and peppers, this spaghetti dish is pure magic. And no, you won’t find cream or milk special in authentic Italian spaghetti alla carbonara.
2. Napoletana Pizza
Naples is a tourist destination that should be a part of your itinerary because of the variety of places to see and food to eat. It would be wise to choose one of the bestItaly tour packages that cover this region in your vacation.
An iconic dish in Naples is its Napoletana pizza that will make you forget your favorite pizza chain at home. An eighteenth century invention that was prepared by the poor, this pizza has now become a popular food item in the country.
Italy’s food culture celebrates the originality of each dish. As a result, the original recipes are followed without making many changes or adjustments. With this in mind, traditional Napoletana pizzas are prepared by hand-flattening the dough in a wood-fired oven. It’s topped with just fresh diced tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala campana and a few sprigs of basil. Are you already helpless?
Risotto is one of the most popular Italian dishes around the world. While some would argue that bread is preferred by Italians over any other type of carbohydrates, the creamy risotto is what wins hearts in the country! This famous Italian food item is loved by the elite
Because the ingredients used to prepare it are usually high class and luxurious. For instance, risotto alla Milanese is seasoned with saffron, an expensive commodity in itself.
Risotto al nero di sepia arborio is prepared with rice, cuttlefish and squid ink which are also all top shelf ingredients. Italian cuisine dishes like risotto should be tried in fine-dining restaurants to truly enjoy its fall.
Arancini is the next dish in the top 10 Italian dishes that you must try on your next vacation. Considered part of a first course or antipasti, arancini are arborio rice balls topped with ragu, cheese and optional sides such as aubergine, peas, etc.
Starting your meal with this special food from Italy will open your taste buds to the flavors. Whet your appetite for the rest of the courses. Arancini is a typical Sicilian preparation that has a cousin in Rome known as suppli. So, make sure to try both versions and then decide which version you like the most.
5. Fiorentina steak
If you ask any Italian living in the country or abroad, according to them the best Italian food would be Fiorentina steak. Traditionally known as Bistecca Fiorentina, this famous Italian dish has a soft spot for many locals. A T-bone beef steak is cooked for five to seven minutes to sear the outer layer, leaving the inside rare or medium-rare.
Hard-core Italian foodies eat this cut only if the beef is from Tuscany, however, equally good options are available in Rome, Milan and Sicily. This steak is ordered by weight, so make sure you check with the waiter before finalizing your order.
A northern Italian delicacy that locals regularly enjoy is polenta. It is basically a corn mush that pairs well with meats, salads and zuppas (soups). This food from Italy is a must-try for its sheer simplicity and depth of flavor.
You may think of polenta as “basic” or “ordinary,” but a well-prepared dish like polenta fritters or a stew with polenta is very satisfying to the soul. With so many things to do on your vacation in Italy , you can give your digestive system some rest by eating this light dish for lunch or dinner.
It is a widely known fact that Italian cuisine greatly celebrates meat-based dishes. Considering this, tourists who like to try different meats on their vacations will be in for a treat in Italy. Ossobuco is veal cooked on a low heat stove to extract flavor from the meat’s mass, vegetables and white wine.
For the unconvinced, veal is the veal of a cow that is considered a delicacy in various European countries. Since it is a luxurious food item, it is best to go to a 5-star hotel or a top-rated fine-dining restaurant.
Italy’s food culture is incomplete without truffles dug from the forests of Umbria, Piedmont and Tuscany. Rare ones are white in color with a distinctive aroma while black truffles which are more readily available are less aromatic. However, both types of truffles grown in Italy are exotic and cannot be found anywhere else on earth.
This is simply because truffles grow only in seasons with the right temperature and humidity. Thus, your trip to Italy would not be complete without tasting truffles in a savory or sweet dish.
An Italian food list without mentioning lasagne would be a sin for the locals! One of the most famous Italian foods in the world, this delicacy is prepared with sheets of pasta with meaty ragu, béchamel and cheese and then baked in the oven.
Locals always prefer parmigiano reggiano sprinkled on top of lasagna because the mozzarella doesn’t bring out the tangy flavor. Once you try this dish in Italy, there’s no going back. You will have to plan another vacation in this country because all the preparations in your city (or any other) will not be good enough!
Travelers with a sweet tooth will have a blast with the artisanal gelato available on every street corner in Italy. While many people believe that Gelato is the Italian equivalent of Western ice cream but if you ask any Italian, they would disagree.
Gelato is prepared with less fat, water and air which makes it tastier and sweeter. Try this sweet dish from a local vendor while strolling the streets of Rome, Venice or Florence and you will surely be in heaven!