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Italian Food: 16 Famous Dishes Of Italian Cuisine

Italy is one of the most riveting destinations in the world which is famous for heritage, culture, architecture, art, wine and food scene. Well, the mention of food here is conjuring Pizza, Pasta, Risotto and Lasagna in my mind; trust me, I am already salivating! There are my reasons why Italian cuisine is the ultimate joy for any food lover or connoisseur. The food of Italy is generally ranked among the top cuisines in the world and the bottom line is, it is so divine that people scream, “Ti Amo”.

Already drooling! Taking you straight to the gastronomy culture of Italy and here is what awaits you. A list of 16 iconic dishes of Italy that are so delish that they can compel you to visit this gastronomical hub of Europe. Get ready to discover the rich and diversified flavours of Italian dishes that have become a worldwide phenomenon. This must have tantalised your taste buds, right? Scroll down and see what’s more in store!

List Of 16 National Food Of Italy

  • Pizza: The Quintessential Italian Dish
  • Lasagna: The Layered Pasta Dish from Italy
  • Risotto: A Classic Main Course Dish
  • Ragu alla Bolognese: The National Dish of Italy
  • Gnocchi: A Delicious and Unique Dish
  • Ravioli: A Stuffed Pasta Dish
  • Bagna Cauda: A Classic Sauce for Festive Season
  • Spaghetti Carbonara: The Classic Italian Pasta Dish
  • Tiramisu: A popular Italian Dessert
  • Osso Buco: A Traditional Milanese Dish
  • Cannoli: A Sicilian Dessert
  • Bruschetta: A Popular Italian Appetizer
  • Arancini: A Sicilian Fried Rice Ball Dish
  • Panettone: A Festive Dish in Italy
  • Saltimbocca alla Romana: A Classic Roman Dish
  • Polenta: A Gluten-free Dish from Italian Cuisine

1. Pizza: The Quintessential Italian Dish

Pizza is the most popular flatbread dish which originated in Naples in the late 18th century. The most popular version of this Italian dish, "Pizza Margherita", was named after Queen Margherita of Savo, who gave it her royal seal. There are countless variations of pizza, each with its own unique combination of toppings and flavours. Some of the most popular variants of pizzas are Margherita (tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil), pepperoni (tomato sauce, mozzarella, and pepperoni), and Hawaiian (tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham, and pineapple). It is regarded as the best food in Italy and for a valid reason. Don’t you agree?

  • Origin: Naples, Italy
  • Special Feature: Its versatility
  • Ingredients: Pizza dough, tomato sauce, toppings (meats, vegetables, pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, olives, pineapple, basil etc.)

2. Lasagna: The Layered Pasta Dish from Italy

Lasagna is a traditional Italian dish that consists of layers of pasta, cheese, and a tomato-based meat sauce. It is one of the most loved dishes in Italian cuisine that has gained popularity worldwide. This Italian dish was first created during the Middle Ages and passed down from generation to generation, with each family adding a unique touch. Whether you prefer a classic meat lasagna or a vegetarian version, there is a recipe out there that will suit your tastes.

  • Origin: Emilia-Romagna
  • Special Feature: It is a layered pasta dish baked in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  • Ingredients: Lasagna noodles, tomato sauce, ground meat (such as beef or pork), ricotta cheese, Mozzarella cheese, and Parmesan cheese. Vegetables like spinach, zucchini, or mushrooms and herbs like basil or oregano are also added to make this dish rich and aromatic.

3. Risotto: A Classic Main Course Dish

Risotto is a traditional Italian dish made with a special short-grain rice called Arborio. The rice is slowly cooked in broth until it becomes creamy and tender. The dish is typically served as a main course dish, and is packed with a variety of ingredients such as vegetables, seafood, meat, cheese, etc. The taste of Risotto varies on the basis of ingredients, but it is generally rich, creamy, and flavourful. The texture is also an important aspect of the dish as obtaining the right texture is a trick. Rice has to be perfectly cooked until it is slightly firm to bite.

  • Origin: Lombardy, specifically in the city of Milan
  • Special Feature: Slow cooking process, which adds a rich, creamy, and flavourful texture to the dish.
  • Ingredients: Arborio rice, broth (usually chicken or vegetable), onions or shallots, butter, and Parmesan cheese. Other ingredients are sauteed mushrooms, garlic, shrimp, scallops, white wine etc., depending on the type of Risotto you choose.

4. Ragu alla Bolognese: The National Dish of Italy

A meaty richness of browned meats, a sweet tang of tomatoes and herbal aroma of various Italian spices makes Ragu alla Bolognese one of the most hearty dishes from Italian cuisine. Regarded as the national dish of Italy, this pasta dish has a rich and velvety texture due to its extensive preparation. Besides sweating, sauteing and braising, the steak is hand-cut to for getting the desirable texture.

  • Origin: Bologna
  • Special Feature: Hand-cut steak for velvety texture
  • Ingredients: Beef mince, pork mince, unsalted butter, onion, carrots, celery, red wine, tomato paste, triple concentrated, milk, salt, black pepper.

Read More : Culture Of Italy 

5. Gnocchi: A Delicious and Unique Dish

Gnocchi is a traditional Italian dish typically made from potatoes, flour, and eggs and is often served as a pasta alternative. The famous food in Italy has unique taste and texture which is often described as soft and pillowy. It is believed to have been invented by the ancient Romans, who created a similar dish made with semolina flour. One of the unique features of gnocchi is its delicate texture. It is a delicious and unique dish which is totally worth trying from Italian menu.

  • Origin: Northern Italy, specifically in the regions of Lombardy, Piedmont, and Friuli-Venezia Giulia
  • Special Feature: The texture of a typically cooked Gannochi is light, fluffy, and delicate.
  • Ingredients: The traditional ingredients for gnocchi are potatoes, flour, and eggs. Some variations may also include ricotta cheese, spinach, or other vegetables.

6. Ravioli: A Stuffed Pasta Dish

Ravioli is a stuffed pasta dish that can be served with a variety of sauces, including tomato sauce, cream sauce, pesto, and butter sauce. It can also be baked with cheese and served as a casserole. Ravioli is versatile and is known for its delicious taste. One special feature of Ravioli is its filling which is placed in the centre of each piece of pasta. Some popular fillings include ricotta cheese, spinach, meat, and seafood.

  • Origin: Genoa
  • Special Feature: Its filling
  • Ingredients: Fillings include ricotta cheese, spinach, meat, and seafood.

7. Bagna Cauda: A Classic Sauce for Festive Season

Bagna Cauda is a classic Italian sauce that is traditionally served during the festive season. Its name literally means "hot bath" and refers to the way it is served, as a warm dip for vegetables and bread. It was originally made by shepherds who used it to warm themselves during cold nights in the mountains and since then, it has become a part of Italian culinary tradition. It is a perfect sauce for winter vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots, but can also be used as a dip for bread, crackers, and other snacks.

  • Origin: Piedmont region of Italy
  • Special Feature: It is traditionally served in a special ceramic or iron pot called a "fogolar" which keeps the sauce warm for a longer duration.
  • Ingredients: Olive oil, butter, garlic, anchovies and cream.

8. Spaghetti Carbonara: The Classic Italian Pasta Dish

Spaghetti Carbonara is a popular Italian pasta dish which is made with spaghetti, eggs, cheese, and bacon or pancetta. The dish is known for its creamy texture and rich, savoury flavour. It is believed to have originated after World War II by American soldiers or Italian charcoal workers. Unlike other pasta dishes that use tomato sauce or cream-based sauces, the sauce for Spaghetti Carbonara is made by whisking together eggs and grated cheese, which are then cooked with bacon or pancetta to create a creamy, delicious sauce.

  • Origin: Rome
  • Special Feature: Its creamy, delicious sauce which is made from eggs, cheese, and bacon or pancetta.
  • Ingredients: Spaghetti, eggs, grated Pecorino Romano cheese, diced pancetta or bacon, garlic, salt and black pepper.

Read More : Best Beaches In Italy 

9. Tiramisu: A Popular Italian Dessert

Tiramisu is a delicious Italian dessert that has a melting-in-mouth rich, creamy texture. It tastes sweet and has a slight hint of bitterness. The coffee flavour is dominant in this dessert and blends well with the sweetness of the cream. It is believed to have been invented by a pastry chef who wanted to create a dessert for a quick energy boost. Tiramisu is typically served chilled and may be garnished with cocoa powder or shaved chocolate.

  • Origin: Veneto
  • Special Feature: Layers of sponge cake that are soaked in coffee or espresso give it a unique flavour.
  • Ingredients: Sponge cake, Coffee or espresso, Mascarpone cheese, Whipped cream, Sugar, Eggs, Cocoa powder. Some variations of Tiramisu also include ingredients like Amaretto or Marsala wine to enhance its flavour.

10. Osso Buco: A Traditional Milanese Dish