Italy is a timeless European holiday destination. Ancient Roman ruins, glorious mountain scenery, charming cities, and pristine beaches abound. But perhaps the biggest drawcard to Italy is the food. The creator of some of the world’s most popular staples, from pizza to pasta and risotto, Italy is a foodie’s dream destination. In this article, we’ll show you five popular Italian dishes to make sure you try on holiday in Italy, from the original Pizza Napoletana in Naples to the Milanese veal dish Ossobuco and deliciously light and airy gelato. So make sure you haven’t eaten your dinner yet, because you’ll be reaching for the takeaway menus in about six minutes’ time. Buon appetito!
Popular Italian Dishes
Today Pizza is one of the world’s most popular foods, available in restaurants around the world and at late-night takeaways, festivals, and supermarkets. Pizza was invented in the 18th century in the Italian city of Naples. An original Pizza Napoletana consists of freshly baked flatbread topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil. Then it’s usually finished off with a drizzle of local olive oil. The whole thing is baked in a wood-fired oven before being served. Any visitor to Naples would be committing a sin if they didn’t try this local delicacy. In fact, it’s the world’s original pizza recipe. Different regions across the country have different ways of doing pizza. In Sicily, pizza is made fluffier with a thicker dough and served in rectangular rather than circular shape. When in Rome (pardon the pun), pizza is made with a thinner base. This leads to a crispier end product.
Lasagna is prime comfort food and one of the most popular Italian dishes out there. Speaking from experience, it was always the dish my mum would cook if I had an important school exam the next day. Or if I’d just been rejected from a job application. I’m sure many of you can relate. Lasagna is another dish that originates from Naples, although the recipe is slightly different. The basic concept of layered pasta, meat, sauce, and cheese remains. However, in traditional Neapolitan lasagna, the bechamel sauce and bolognese are swapped for ricotta and a delicious ragu. This interesting twist is worth a try if in Naples during Carnevale (you’ll probably know it better as Lent). Italians in the region will tuck into the meal with friends and family in a traditional celebration. It’s on the menu of all good restaurants up and down the country, too.
Ossobuco hails from the northern powerhouse Italian city of Milan and is classic Italian food. Also, the country’s fashion capital, no trip to Milan would be complete without tucking into the city’s most famous dish. Ossobuco involves the slow-cooking of premium veal shanks, served with white wine, cooked vegetables, and a meat broth. In restaurants, it is often paired with saffron-infused risotto. Another Italian food specialty. As you can imagine, the dish doesn’t come cheap and also takes around three hours to prepare. If you plan to try it during a meal out, make sure to plan ahead. On the plus side, three hours is plenty of time to enjoy a few glasses of premium Italian wine! Another alternative is to cook the dish yourself. You should be able to find plenty of mouthwatering recipes online.
A quick caveat here: the Italians didn’t invent ice cream, that accolade actually goes to the Chinese. But have you ever heard of Chinese gelato? I didn’t think so. Italy took China’s invention and mastered the art. Perhaps that is why there are now more than 37,000 Italian gelato parlors spread across the country. Gelato uses much less fat and air than normal ice cream, and strays away from artificial flavorings, using natural ingredients where possible. Italian gelato is made in more flavors than one could possibly imagine. From classics such as chocolate, Stracciatella, and tiramisu to some more exotic flavors such as rum and raisin, mango, and Zabaglione – made using cream and wine.
Caponata is a classic Sicilian salad, perfect for a family lunch on the sun-soaked terrace of villas up and down the region. The dish is essentially a warm vegetable salad, with a very loose recipe. Aubergine forms the basis for caponata, usually accompanied by celery, capers, and onion served with a sweet and sour sauce. But caponata is an Italian family favorite and everyone in Sicily will have their own way of doing things. You may find it served with carrots, potatoes, pine nuts, or even octopus. A delicious and nutritious lunch to enjoy during a day of sightseeing or relaxing beachside on any Italian holiday to the region.
Popular Italian Dishes Conclusion
Italian food is unrivaled anywhere else in the world. A plethora of delicious dishes, some you may never have heard of before and some that are now famous around the world. Wherever you head in the country, you’re sure to be offered a host of regional varieties and more familiar popular Italian dishes. Each guaranteed to have your mouth watering. If you managed to read this article without ordering a pizza then you have my congratulations. My takeout is about 20 minutes away… Buon Appetito!