Speaking of Italian cuisine, people usually think of pasta, spaghetti, and pizza. However, many other delectable dishes captivate the taste buds, from the hearty goodness of osso buco, braciole, a Milanese specialty featuring braised veal shanks, to the tantalizing simplicity of Caprese salad, to risotto – a creamy and comforting rice dish.
Here are 8 fancy true Italian dishes you should try!
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The first famous Italian dish is risotto. It’s a simple dish made with arborio rice, a short-grain rice variety known for its ability to create a creamy texture.
What makes this traditional Italian dish special is its hands-on preparation: adding broth, constant stirring, and gradual addition of liquid until the rice reaches the perfect al dente consistency. Risotto isn’t just a meal; it’s a culinary journey.
The special thing is that you can add different ingredients to make various variations of risotto. With saffron, Parmesan cheese, and butter, you can form the iconic Risotto alla Milanese. If you love seafood, you can enjoy a Risotto ai Frutti di Mare.
Since I love vegetables, I prefer Risotto Primavera. If you love the fresh and green of the Spring like me, here is my easy Risotto Primavera recipe you can try.
Next is Caprese salad. This healthy Italian dish is a delightful symphony of flavors of red tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, fresh basil leaves, and a drizzle of golden olive oil.
Named after the island of Capri, this salad is a true celebration of simplicity and quality ingredients. It’s like Italy’s way of saying, “Let the flavors do the talking!”
This classic Italian dish is a representation of the Italian way of life—savoring the moment, appreciating the beauty in simplicity, and letting the quality of the ingredients speak for themselves.
I’m not really a fan of salad, so I did a little twist on this – bake it. You know what? It tasted pretty good! You can read more about my Baked tomatoes with mozzarella and basil here.
Originated in the Veneto region of Italy in the 1960s, and since then, tiramisu has become a staple in Italian dish culture. Its popularity quickly transcended borders, making it a star on menus worldwide.
Translated as “pick me up” or “lift me up,” tiramisu is aptly named for its ability to elevate the spirits with every decadent bite. This non-pasta Italian dish is a delicate balance of ladyfingers dipped in espresso, layered with a rich mascarpone cheese mixture, and generously dusted with cocoa powder.
The marriage of the coffee-soaked sponge and the velvety mascarpone creates a harmonious blend of bitterness and sweetness, a dance that plays out with each spoonful.
Tiramisu has always been on my culinary wishlist. I haven’t taken the plunge into making it yet, but that “someday” is on the horizon. The idea of transforming basic ingredients into the magic of tiramisu makes me so excited.
Gnocchi is one of the most popular Italian dishes you must try. Those delightful little pillows of heaven are typically made from a simple combination of potatoes, flour, and sometimes eggs.
Gnocchi-making is an age-old tradition, passed down through generations in Italian kitchens. It’s a culinary rite of passage, where the hands of experienced nonnas (grandmothers) skillfully craft these little doughy delights. Each piece is formed with care.
One of the charms of gnocchi lies in its versatility. These dumplings can be dressed in an array of sauces, from the simplicity of browned butter and sage to the richness of a hearty Bolognese. They’re like culinary chameleons, adapting to whatever flavor profile you desire.
I have a chance to have dinner at my Italian friend’s home. We gather around the table, sharing stories and laughter when eating gnocchi. It makes me feel warmth and hospitality. I think gnocchi is not just a dish; it’s a celebration of togetherness.
Speaking of the most typical Italian dishes, you cannot miss lasagna. It’s layers of thin pasta sheets, generously blanketed with rich, savory Bolognese sauce, béchamel, and a sprinkle of gooey melted cheese. It’s a harmony of ingredients that dance on your taste buds. It is one of the most common Italian foods for Christmas
Dating back to ancient Greece, the concept of layered pasta made its way to Italy, evolving into the dish we now know and love. Each region in Italy boasts its own variation—some with ricotta, others with mozzarella, and others have seafood or spinach-infused versions.
The beauty of lasagna lies not only in its taste but also in its meticulous layering process. It’s not just about stacking pasta; it’s about crafting a culinary masterpiece.
No Italian feast is complete without a bubbling tray of lasagna gracing the table. If you visit Italy, lasagna is a must-try.
The next Italian dish is minestrone. It is a soul-warming soup that blends a symphony of fresh, seasonal vegetables of tomatoes, carrots, beans, and pasta.
What makes minestrone truly special is its adaptability. Every Italian has his unique recipe, a reflection of the local produce and family traditions. Some can add seafood or grains while others can include spices like chili.
The soul of minestrone lies in its rich, savory broth. A flavorful base of tomatoes, garlic, and herbs creates a comforting elixir that ties the ingredients together. You’ll see the magic when this Italian food simmers away, allowing the flavors to meld.
After tiramisu, panna cotta has captured the hearts and palates of food enthusiasts worldwide. The name “Panna Cotta” itself means “cooked cream” in Italian. The Italian dessert dish is believed to have its roots in the Northern regions of this country, where dairy reigns supreme.
It’s a delightful symphony of heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla, creating a harmonious blend that dances on the taste buds. These ingredients are gently heated to become a silky, smooth custard.
Besides the classic panna cotta recipe, there are many variations of this dessert. From infusing it with citrus zest to incorporating exotic flavors like cardamom or lavender, Panna Cotta has become a canvas for culinary artistry.
Once, I tried to make panna cotta, envisioning a creamy delight. Despite following the recipe diligently, the result was a mess. I gave up at that time. I think I may try to remake it someday.
Polenta is made from coarsely ground yellow or white cornmeal, cooked to a creamy consistency. The roots of this authentic Italian dish can be traced back to Northern Italy, where it was a staple for centuries, especially in regions like Veneto and Lombardy.
It was once considered the food of the peasants, providing sustenance during harsh winters. However, its rich taste and adaptability have allowed it to transcend class boundaries and find its way onto the tables of both rustic kitchens and upscale restaurants.
The preparation of polenta is a labor of love, requiring patience. Traditionally, it involves slowly simmering the cornmeal in water or broth while continuously stirring to avoid lumps. The result is a creamy, smooth porridge-like texture that can be served soft and hot, or allowed to cool and solidify for grilling, baking, or frying.
One of the reasons polenta has gained widespread popularity is its incredible versatility. You can eat it as a side dish or accompany it with main courses like stews, braised meats, or sautéed vegetables. You can also layer, bake, or fry it to make different textures and flavors depending on the preparation.
Those are the best 8 Italian dishes you should try when visiting this country. From the elegant tiramisu to the artistry of lasagne, each dish tells a story of tradition, love, and flavor. As I wrap up our exploration of the best Italian dishes, tell me your favorite one by commenting below. If you have any suggestions, let me know!