11 of the Best Foods of Italy
11 of the best foods of Italy is our subject today but really, how can we limit it to just eleven? It was very difficult and of course, we really had to just eliminate pasta in general. After all, there are so many varieties available and fresh is always preferred.
In thinking about our recent trips to Italy, here are our eleven top ‘go to’ foods we enjoyed in many regions when traveling through Italy.
This post contains affiliate links that help keep this website running. By purchasing through our links, we make a small commission at no extra charge to you. Thank you for your support!
Pizza is one of Italy’s iconic foods and you would be surprised that true Italian pizza does not come with bunches of toppings on it. If you are looking to order your favorite supreme pizza; it won’t be happening in a piazza in Italy. Pizza has its regional specialties but of course, every Italian will tell you that the best pizza is found in Naples. There are basically two styles of pizza. There is the Neapolitan style which is a thick, fluffy crust. Usually smaller in size as they do not stretch it out too much. The other is the Roman style which is paper-thin and crispy. I love having arugula put on my pizza; piled high. Gary doesn’t care for a salad on his!
Arancini are crispy golden brown stuffed rice balls usually filled with tomato sauce, mozzarella and peas. Occasionally you can find meat in them but it is rare. These balls have breadcrumbs on the outside and are fried to deliciousness! If you haven’t tried one, you definitely should!
Carbonara is spaghetti cooked with eggs, pecorino cheese, and pepper. Sometimes you will find prosciutto added to it but it is amazing. We had this dish in Parma, Bologna, and Florence and although made similarily; tasted a bit different in each town. An easy dish that you can even make at home but just be careful you don’t scramble the eggs!
Risotto is made with Arborio rice and can be found in every town in Italy. There are so many ways you can make it that it is worth trying everywhere you go. My favorite is asparagus or mushroom risotto and Gary’s favorite is by far the seafood risotto. This dish is a specialty of the Emilia Romagna region of Italy.
Prosciutto is pure heaven. It is dry-cured ham cut in paper-thin slices using a specialty knife or machine. We were in heaven during the 90-days we spent in Parma, Italy. The best prosciutto is the prestigious Prosciutto di Parma from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. We took a tour which was amazing and found out what makes this ham so special. You can see our post here prosciutto post You can enjoy prosciutto in an antipasto, with pasta, and especially wonderful with cantaloupe.
Continuing with 11 of the best foods of Italy…
No real explanation needs to go into this category other than you might not know that traditionally Lasagna wasn’t made with tomato sauce. When we were in Bologna, Gary said the lasagna was excellent. The noodles had a greenish tint to them. We never did figure out why but it was delicious!
Polenta is widely found everywhere in Italy but mainly in northern Italy. If you have never tried it, you should. It is sometimes made in a pan and then cut into squares or rectangles and then lightly fried in a pan. It is close to what we know in the USA as; grits.
This specialty is tender veal shanks usually braised in white wine and tomato sauce. I must say I have never had it but it is one of Gary’s favorites.
This steak is prepared using a specific kind of cow that is found in Tuscany; called Chianina. It is prepared in a very particular way. It is found in many higher-end restaurants in Florence. I have to say, Gary & I both tried it back in 2012 when in Florence and it wasn’t anything special to us.
Ribolitta is a hearty vegetable soup that has bread in it. It was once considered a poor man’s food and was created by servants who collected unfinished vegetables and made this iconic Tuscan soup. I have to say that is is very tasty and slightly different in each town. I enjoyed a bowl when recently in Florence on a nasty day. It warmed me right up!
Last but not least, here is #11 of the best foods of Italy.
It happens to be my favorite!
Gelato has far less fat than ice cream. At about 4-8% compared to 14% for ice cream found in the USA. It is served at a warmer temperature and is just amazing. Nothing compares to the gelato made in Italy. Nothing. I have been known to have more than one per day, just saying. You can read our post on more details of the differences between gelato and ice cream at gelato post.