If you consider yourself a foodie then you should really visit Italy at least once in your life. Nobody does iconic food quite like the Italians and the toughest thing will be trying to fit everything in. Hearty, fresh and delicious – Italy offers the most beautiful comfort food in every region. Here are the foods you need to eat in Italy and where to find the best:
Most dishes in Italy are contested over where they originated and who does it best but for lasagne, head to the region of Emilia-Romagna. Like the world’s most favorite dishes, lasagna started life as a poor man’s meal but is now loved the whole world over. Before tomatoes were introduced to Italy in the 1500s, lasagne was made with only ragu, béchamel sauce and mozzarella cheese. This is how you’ll find it traditionally served in Italy, with minimal tomato sauce for a meatier taste.
#2 Fiorentina Steak
This T-bone steak is unique to a particular region, from a certain cut of a specific cow and prepared in an exact way. This is why the best place to enjoy this succulent dish is to head to Tuscany. The Fiorentina steak is a thick cut from the loin of a Chianina cow which has been raised in the region. The steak is cut from a high position near the cow’s rib cage which they argue is a well-used muscle making it much more flavorful than other cuts. While you can get a Florentine steak in most Italian regions, it won’t be the real deal.
There can be no other dish that personifies Italy quite like the pizza. Its attractiveness is clear, easy to make, delicious fresh ingredients, can be eaten as a snack or meal and is a great social food. For the ultimate pizza experience, you’ll need to head to Naples. It was the staple meal of working class people and when Queen Margherita visited the city during her tour of 1889, she wanted to try this dish that all her subjects were eating. This is how the standard cheese, tomato sauce and basil variety came to be named.
Rice is another food you can expect to find in abundance in Italy and if you’ve a taste for risotto then a visit to Northern Italy is in order. Piedmont and Lombardy are the ideal places for a creamy, delicious risotto. There are huge areas of rice paddies in this region, specifically growing the Arborio and Carneroli varieties which wonderfully absorb the flavors of anything cooked with it. One of the most popular dishes is the risotto infused with saffron which was allegedly invented by the men building the Milan Cathedral.
While there is so much more on offer than simply pasta, to come to Italy and not eat carbonara should be a crime. Rome is the place to find a really good authentic carbonara. Spaghetti, bacon, eggs and cheese are the simple ingredients that take a lifetime to master perfectly and even some Italian restaurants in the capital get it wrong. The best way to guarantee an incredible culinary carbonara experience is to get a recommendation from a local. A genuine Roman carbonara will contain no cream, no onions, no chicken or mushrooms!
Possibly the most well-known of all Italian desserts, this simple after-dinner treat was most likely only developed in the 1960s. It might sound easy but to create a top-class tiramisu requires the finest of ingredients. You can order this pudding in every region of Italy but you’re unlikely to taste the same thing twice as many restaurants adjust the ingredients. Any cookies or cakes can be used instead of the original coffee-soaked ladyfingers but as long as top-quality coffee and mascarpone are used, it’s sure to be a delight.
Bread is a big deal in Italy and you will find freshly baked varieties wherever you are staying. The tastes vary widely across the country, for example, bread in Tuscany is made without salt. Some olive oil and sprinkled herbs is all you need. For a fine focaccia, Italy’s most famous bread, head to Liguria. This style of bread is deliciously thick, salty, covered in olive oil and perfect on its own or as part of a sandwich. The beauty of Italy is that you’re never very far from an authentic bakery so make sure you call in and try a whole variety of freshly baked assorted breads.