The Best 10 Traditional Italian Dishes

20 February 2022

These are the ten most traditional Italian foods. Delicious dishes that will take you to Italy and back with every bite! Have you tried all of these flavors?

Traditional Italian FoodPhoto By Canva

Italian food is known worldwide. In fact, it’s the most prominent cuisine in the world! Everyone loves Italian food, but some dishes are more influential than others — some are legendary!

Here are the 10 traditional Italian foods you have to try. They’ll surely become some of your favorite meals. If Italians do something very well, that’s cooking delicious food! Here’s the Italian food you must add to your bucket list.

1. Pasta

Let’s start with the most illustrious Italian food. We’re pretty sure you’ve had your fair share of pasta in your days, but how not to mention it?

There are nearly 350 different types of pasta in Italy. You can almost eat a different kind every day without having to repeat. Add all the possible sauces and preparations, and you’ve got yourself the most varied and versatile Italian food.

Italian food is the perfect weeknight meal, as it’s also easy to make. Still, you can equally enjoy pasta at a fancy restaurant; that’s the beauty of it!

2. Pizza

PizzaPhoto By Canva

Pizza is the most consumed Italian food in the world. In fact, it’s the most important food delivery. Every town in every country has at least one pizza place, and it’s easy to see why — pizza is comfort food, and it’s fun!

Just like with pasta, pizza is easy to customize, and everyone seems to have a favorite topping, whether it’s pepperoni or black olives. The sky’s the limit!

However, authentic pizza is not from anywhere in Italy but from Naples, where pizza traditions go deep. Thin crust is the norm, although don’t expect to find too many available toppings. That’s the traditional way!

3. Risotto

Risotto is a creamy Italian food made with rice, cooked briefly, often with butter, cheese and a splash of wine. The silky dish is hands down the best thing you can cook with rice!

Risottos are a specialty in Northern Italy, where rice is as prominent as pasta. Getting risotto right, though, is no easy feat — you have to practice quite a bit to get the silky and creamy Italian food of restaurant quality.

Luckily, almost every Italian restaurant serves risotto, and the ingredients can be highly creative. Try a mushroom risotto; it’s my favorite, but you do you. There’s also a risotto for you.

4. Bistecca Fiorentina

If you think you know steaks, wait until you try the king of all beef cuts. The outstanding Bistecca Fiorentina is a traditional food in Tuscany, especially in Firenze. We’re talking about a huge T-bone steak a few inches thick and weighing at least a pound.

Cooked over an open flame, this is one mean steak, and it’s immensely favored by tourists. Of course, it's always more enjoyable with a glass of Tuscan red wine on the side.

The most exciting thing about the Bistecca Fiorentina is that you can’t get it anywhere else, as it comes from a local, bulky cow called Chianina. No other beef makes such enormous steaks.

5. Lasagna

LasagnaPhoto By Canva

Lasagna is the ultimate one-pot dish, the tastiest casserole ever, and one of the most filling Italian foods in the country.

Lasagna is the name of the flat, rectangle-shaped pasta used to layer this beautiful dish, and it’s also the name of the dish itself. Most commonly, cooks layer pasta sheets with bechamel sauce and tomato sauce, sometimes with ground beef and lots of cheese. You can even find vegetarian lasagna!

Lasagnas go back to the middle ages in central Italy and are initially from Bologna. Lasagnas have come a long way since then, but they’re still similar to the preparation’s very first versions!

6. Osso Buco

Now, for meaty Italian food, few dishes are as hearty as the osso buco. This is veal shank, slow cooked in a rich broth until it’s so tender it melts in your mouth.

The classic osso buco is typical in Northern Italy, in Milan. The best are cooked in a thick sauce, often flavored with red wine, and they’re best enjoyed with a side of risotto.

Lamb shanks are particularly tough cuts of meat, so you must cook them for long hours to tenderize them. Get it right, and you’ll enjoy one of the tastiest Italian foods ever!

7. Prosciutto

Here’s an equally splendid but less complicated Italian food. Many regions in Italy specialize in artisan products, whether it’s wine, cheese or cured meats.

The most famous Italian cured meat? Prosciutto, of course. This is silky, dry-cured pork you enjoy by the slice. Whole legs are salted and dry-cured, sometimes for months to get a rich flavor and a tender texture. Sliced thinly, few Italian foods give more pleasure with prosciutto!

The best prosciutto comes from Parma; that’s the good stuff, but there are many others, and they’re all fantastic! For a quick bite or some fancy canapés, prosciutto has you covered.

8. Gelato

GelatoPhoto By Canva

Not all traditional Italian foods are savory. Some of the tastiest are actually sweet! And what better way to start our sweet journey than with a few gelato scoops?

The difference between Italian gelato and regular ice cream is that gelato is made chiefly with whole milk, contains less butterfat, and is less airy. The Italian frozen treat is around 30% air instead of the 50% found in ice cream.

The compact dessert is more flavorful than ice cream as well, and you can find it in many flavors. Did you know gelato was created in the late 1600s by an Italian immigrant in Paris?

9. Cannoli

Italian cannoli are some of the creamiest desserts you’ll find. These are crackly pastry tubes stuffed with a creamy filling, sometimes also topped with all sorts of delicious stuff!

The cannoli is a Sicilian specialty, and they go back for at least a thousand years! These are particularly fashionable during the Mediterranean island’s carnival season, but today you can enjoy cannoli all year round.

The secret behind these beauties is the filling, often made with sweetened ricotta cheese and other goodies, including chocolate chips and crushed pistachios! Cannoli are crunchy and creamy; that’s what makes them so immensely satisfying!

10. Tiramisu

Let’s end our Italian food list with a world-famous dessert no one can say no to, the tiramisu. This flavorful and creamy dessert was created in the 1960s in Treviso, northern Italy, so it’s a relatively new invention. However, everyone agrees the tiramisu is an Italian classic, perhaps the most attractive dessert in the country!

The tiramisu might look different depending on the cook. Still, it always has the same ingredients — spongy ladyfinger biscuits dipped in espresso, a creamy combination of eggs, sugar and mascarpone cheese, and cocoa powder. This one’s layers over layers of flavor, and that’s beautiful!

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