Oh Italy. How stomachs love you, and hips despise you. You never leave tongues unsatisfied with your delicious dishes. This is what most people feel about Italian food, and we’re not talking about the generic, over-salted American-Italian food. We’re talking authentic, one-of-a-kind dishes that are unique in comparison to many Italian dishes we know and love. When traveling to Italy, avoid upsetting the Roman Gods and make sure you try at least one, or maybe all 7, of the yummiest dishes. Get ready to pick yourself up by your bootstraps, get walking and experience the best of ancient eating.
1. Pizza Margherita
Traditional Italian pizza is a thin crust, similar to baked pita taste and texture. Each family owned business features their special sauce, basil and mozzarella cheese. It sounds simple and boring, but trust thy Roman palate, the exquisite sauce and cheese combinations will make you believe that every fine pizza should be created, Roman style. So the next time the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, devour it.
Originating in the region of Veneto, Tiramisu is an Italian classic dessert that has swept the world by storm. You’ll find many variations on the classic dish and in all honesty, sometimes a more contemporary take outdoes the original… but in Italy it is hard to come by a bad house-made Tiramisu!
There is no shortage of gelatarias in Italy, or flavors for that matter. In a cone or a cup, experience the true bliss of gelato. The texture is softer than ice cream and made with different ingredients. Southern Italy founded the dairy-free gelato (sorbets) where dairy based were created in Northern Italy. Whether you like fruit, nutella, nuts, or biscuits, you’ll find a gelato in almost every flavor.
4. Panna Cotta
Panna Cotta, a creamy white dessert topped often with a drizzle of caramel sauce is said to originate from the region of Piedmont in Italy. Panna Cotta is light but holds itself with just enough solidity to not fall apart on the plate, but still fall apart in your mouth. A true Italian delight!
5. Italian Coffee
Known as caffee, it’s actually a shot of espresso. Go to a “bar,” which serves traditional shots of Italian espresso. Milk lovers may order a cappuccino while black coffee sippers can order the dark and bold, Americana. Be prepared for small beverages while paying a hefty four to six euro per drink to sit and enjoy the coffee at the café.
Who doesn’t love bruschetta!? This breaded dish can be ordered anywhere in Italy as a starter and you just know you can’t go wrong. The dish has its origins in central Italy but can be found in nearly every restaurant throughout the country, sometimes being offered complimentary to start an evening meal. Bruschetta is made with garlic rubbed bread, topped with a variation of toppings including tomatoes, cheese, onion, cured meats and/or vegetables.
7. Pasta Carbonara
Known to be a creamy pasta in the states, the Italians omit the cream. The combination of egg, bacon, romano and white wine tossed together with rigatoni or spaghetti noodles is a must try while in Italy. It’ll have you hooked and disappointed at the American version.
Gnocchi, the flour dumpling, are created in various flavors and styles. Vegetarians will enjoy the “pomodoro style,” sauce and cheese. Meat lovers can find a slab of fine meat on many menus throughout Italy.