Italian cuisine is original and multifaceted. It was this country that gave the world many wonderful dishes that have become popular all over the world — first of all, these are all kinds of pasta and pizza. In this article, I will tell you about the most outstanding Italian dishes from different parts of the country. Among hundreds of types of pasta and pizza cooking options, only the most popular ones are presented here. While reading the article, you will certainly have an appetite, so it is best not to do this on an empty stomach.
Orecchiette with turnip leaves, Puglia
The name of this Pulian pasta comes from its shape, which resembles a small ear (orecchiette literally translates as “small ears”). Orecchiettes are ideal because of their ability to retain the sauce thanks to a special internal cavity. Orecchiette is first simmered with green turnips to absorb their rich flavor, then sautéed with anchovies, minced garlic and a light chilli.
Pizza Margherita, Campania
This pizza is named after Queen Margherita of Savoy, wife of King Umberto I, who visited Naples in 1889. Pizza Margherita adopts the colors of the Italian flag: red (tomato), white (mozzarella) and green (basil). Authentic Margherita is made exclusively by hand from scratch (no rolling pins!). It is baked only in a wooden brick oven at 485 degrees. Neapolitan pizza is always soft and flexible, with a raised edge (cornicione), unlike the crispy Roman pizza. In each region of the country, Italian cuisine acquires its own flavor, different from its neighbors.
Risotto alla Milanese, Lombardy
For the preparation of risotto alla milanese, a short grain of arborio, or carnaroli rice, is used, which grows in abundance in the lowlands of Ticino. Rice is fried in a frying pan with a little fat, onion and oil, and constantly stirred. During cooking, the chef gradually adds beef broth to enhance the flavor. The saffron gives the risotto its golden tone, while the parmesan makes the dish creamier. Risotto alla Milanese is often served with young veal.
Trofi al Pesto, Liguria
This undulating Ligurian pasta is handmade from flour and water and served with a delicious pesto sauce. Basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and a pinch of salt are the key ingredients of the pasta and are ground in a blender, after which the grated cheese is added. Trophy is boiled in boiling water until al dente (light readiness). Pesto sauce is mixed with pasta and pecorino cheese is added on top.
Panzerotti are crescent-shaped and are traditionally filled with tomatoes and melted mozzarella, although there are many other fillings, including spinach, mushrooms, olives, anchovies, and ham. These small pastry envelopes are similar to a ham-and-cheese pie, but differ in size and are deep-fried. Because they fill with hot air, it’s best to pierce the panzerotti first and let the steam escape so as not to burn your mouth. This typical Italian street food is eaten as a snack in the morning or during the day.
These juicy cuts of lamb are grilled on a barbecue, or on a special brazier. Lamb fat is sometimes placed between cuts of meat to make it softer and more tender. Arrosticini are served wrapped in foil and are most often eaten with the hands. This Italian dish is served with chili peppers and homemade bread soaked in olive oil. It is best to drink this delicious meat with a glass of red Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. It is also a very popular Italian street food dish.
These stuffed rice balls are breaded and well fried. The dish gets its name from the orange-like shape and color (arancini means “small orange”). In eastern Sicily, arancini are conical in shape. They are most often filled with tomato sauce, mozzarella, stew (bolognese sauce) and peas. The arancini are believed to have originated around the tenth century when Sicily was under Arab rule. It was at this time that rice was introduced to the island.
Bucatini Amatriciana, Lazio
Sauce Amatriciana (amatriciana) got its name from the city of Amatrice in the Lazio region. This delicious pasta sauce is made with guanciale (ham of pork), sweet tomato and chili peppers. Bucatini (a long, hollow, tubular pasta similar to spaghetti) is cooked to al dente, then mixed with sauce and a little grated pecorino cheese.
It is believed that vincisgrassi lasagna was first prepared in honor of the Austrian general Windisch Graetz, who fought against Napoleon in 1799 while defending the city of Ancona (the name vincisgrassi comes from a mispronunciation of the general’s name). This baked pasta dish features layers of meat (beef, pork, chicken and goose giblets) mixed with bolognese sauce and seasoned with a creamy bechamel sauce. Top the dish with grated parmesan cheese.
Florentine steak, Tuscany
Florentine steak is served medium rare. This is a juicy T‑bone steak grilled over charcoal. Outside, it is covered with a dark crust, but juice always remains inside. Traditionally, the Florentine steak is made from Tuscan Chianina ox, although Spanish beef is more commonly used these days. The steak is seasoned with salt, black pepper and olive oil.
Cappelletti in broth, Emilia-Romagna
Egg paste is stuffed with meat and served in fragrant chicken broth. Small strips of dough are filled with meat and folded into a crescent shape. The corners of the pasta are attracted to each other and stuck together, shaped like a medieval hat (cappelletti literally means “little hats”). Cappeletti are cooked in a simmering broth over low heat until they float to the surface (approximately five minutes). Cappelletti in broth is traditionally eaten at Christmas.
Frico with potatoes, Friuli Venezia Giulia
Similar to an omelette, potato frico is made from thinly sliced or grated potatoes fried in oil with onions. Potatoes are mixed with Montasio cheese, after which the dish is cooked for twenty minutes. Once the potatoes are ready and the cheese has melted, the ingredients are gently fried in a pan with a little fat until golden brown.
Sardine in saor sauce, Veneto
This Venetian Italian platter consists of roasted sardines, pine nuts, raisins and caramelized onions cooked with vinegar. The preparation of sardine in saor sauce spread thanks to the Venetian sailors, who had to somehow store the fish on the high seas. Sweet and sour saor sardines taste much better if left to marinate for 24 hours. Now it is an integral part of Italian cuisine, like pasta or pizza.
Onion soup, Calabria
This soulful soup is traditionally made with sweet onions from Tropea in Calabria. The area extends along the Tyrrhenian Sea, where this onion has been cultivated for more than two thousand years. The microclimate, fertile soil and proximity to the sea contribute to its unique taste. The onion is peeled, thinly sliced and cooked in fat in boiling water. At the end of cooking, hot chili peppers are added. Licurdia onion soup is served in special bowls mixed with bread.
Egg balls, Molise
Made from cheese, egg and bread, pallotte (egg balls) are cooked in a tomato sauce with red pepper. The bread is soaked in milk and mixed with eggs, pecorino cheese, parsley and garlic, then shaped into balls and fried in boiling oil. At the end, the pallotte is mixed with the sauce and boiled for a few minutes. Egg balls can be served as a warm appetizer, or as a vegetarian main course. It’s an integral part Italian cuisinespread far beyond Molise.
Bagna Cauda, Piedmont
Traditionally, banya cauda was offered as a communal dish and placed in the middle of the table. Today, this hot vegetable dish is served in foyotes, special terracotta pots. Raw, boiled, or fried vegetables (artichoke, cabbage, celery, radish, fennel, onion, Jerusalem artichoke and peppers) are seasoned with sauce and served with bread. Bagna Cauda is traditionally eaten in autumn and winter, as an Italian platter or as a main course.