As one of the most popular cuisines in the world, Italian food can be found in almost every corner of the globe. However, the best way to taste some truly authentic dishes is by visiting the country for yourself and letting your taste buds do as much touring as your feet. We all know about pizza and spaghetti Bolognese, but what do the locals eat in Italy and what should you definitely try whilst you are there?
This is possibly the most iconic Italian meat dish and you will not taste a better version of it outside of Italy. Translated to mean ‘bone with a hole’, it is typically made using veal shank that is cooked slowly in white wine so that the meat falls off the bone with just the slightest touch of your knife. The dish is usually served with vegetables and risotto and, unlike versions you may have tried elsewhere, a traditional osso buco alla Milanese does not include tomatoes. The best bit, and something many Italians save for last, is the butter-like marrow from the middle of the bone.
Focaccia di Recco
This regional dish can be found in many coffee shops throughout Liguria and is perfect as a snack or a starter. Originally from the town of Recco, just outside of Genoa, it consists of a creamy, cheesy filling between two layers of delicious focaccia dough. It can almost be compared to a quesadilla in some ways and the cheese used is normally stracchino, both of which are soft, rich and perfect for this kind of dish.
These tiny balls of deep-fried rice originated on the island of Sicily but have since spread their way across the whole of the country and now exist in a variety of different forms. The basics of the recipe typically remain the same (rice balls stuffed with mozzarella, herbs, spices and tomato ragu which are then coated in bread crumbs and deep fried), but they are smothered with different sauces and served with different accompaniments depending on which part of Italy you visit.
Gnocchi (in a variety of different ways)
Pasta may be a clichéd Italian food, but there is no getting away from it when you explore this boot-shaped destination. The plethora of different types and cooking styles means that you never get bored and the different texture of gnocchi always makes a nice change from regular pasta. With a name that is thought to have derived from either nocchio (a knot in wood) or nocca (knuckle), these Italian dumplings can be served alla Sorrentina (in tomato sauce from Sorrento), alla Romana (oven-baked from Rome) or alla Bava (smothered in melted Fontana cheese from the Valle d’Aosta).
Tartufo di Pizzo
Gelato may be the most famous Italian sweet treat, but why settle for it on its own when you can delight that sweet tooth with an even more decadent dessert? Created in the Calabria region (the toes of Italy’s ‘boot’), a Tartufo di Pizzo is similar to a chocolate bomb in the way it looks. The shell is made of chocolate and hazelnut gelato which are covered in a thin layer of dark chocolate and then sprinkled with a liberal dusting of cocoa powder. Inside you’ll find an oozing centre of fruit syrup that spills out when the dessert is cut open and acts as a perfect sauce, cutting through the sweetness of the rest of the dish. It’s the best way to end an indulgent meal.
If you would like to try some of these traditional plates on your own holiday to Italy, we can tailor-make your perfect itinerary. Just tell us where you would like to go, how long for and we will bring it all together.