Italian Food Guide


1) Antipasto

This traditional first course of a formal Italian meal includes a combination of cured meats, olives, peperoncini, mushrooms, anchovies, artichoke hearts, cheeses , pickled meats, and vegetables in oil or vinegar.

2) Carpaccio

A dish of raw meat or fish that has been thinly sliced.  You'll find beef carpaccio quite commonly but other variations like veal, venison, salmon and tuna are also on menus.

3) Minestrone

This thick soup of Italian origin is made with vegetables like beans, carrots, onions, celery, carrots and tomatoes.  Often pasta or rice will also be added to this traditional Italian soup.

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Bruschetta is, at its core, a piece of bread that is generously rubbed with garlic, grilled, and then finally topped with a variety of toppings.

Basic classical bruschetta has only a bit of olive oil and salt on the top, but other traditional variations include toppings of chopped tomatoes, cheeses, onion, vegetables, and even beans or meat.


Contrary to popular belief, there is no one "Italian" pizza.  There are a nearly endless variety of classical Italian variations on this popular dish, each with its own unique ingredients and preparation style.

Classic pizza like Neapolitan is made with tomatoes from San Marzano and mozzarella cheese made from water buffalo raised in Lazio and Campania.  Meanwhile, Sicilian pizza is deep dish style that consists of a flat bread topped with tomato sauce and ingredients like onions, tomatoes, and caciocavallo.

Travel Tip
Many restaurants in Italy offer a Menu a Prezzo Fisso or Fixed Price menu at lunch and dinner.  These menus offer you a variety of dishes to choose from along with a drink for a lower fixed price.


There is perhaps no food in Italy as diverse as pasta.  Pasta is a staple of traditional Italian cuisine and comes in a nearly endless variety of classical types.

Pasta is used in every type of Italian cuisine, so it's simply a matter of trying out as much traditional cuisine as you can and finding what type of pasta you like the best.  The most popular types you'll see include long pasta like spaghetti, rigati and ziti as well as shorter pasta like farfalle and tonde or even flat pasta like lasagna.

Pasta can be tossed in just a simple olive oil or a robust, fresh tomato sauce with all sorts of meats.


Risotto is a rich, creamy rice dish that comes in a variety of flavors.  Its origins can be traced to at least the 19th century where the rice was sautéed to a rich texture using bone marrow, butter, sausages, and saffron.

Today, classical Italian risotto uses medium or short grain white rice and is usually cooked to a creamy consistency.  Traditional risotto is made with onion, butter or olive oil, white wine, and some boiling stock.

Popular Italian variants include risotto cooked to such a creamy, thick consistency that it is eaten with a spoon and risottos made with mushrooms, sausages, and even cuttlefish.
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Osso Buco

Osso Buco, a Milan specialty, is a casserole style dish that combines delicious braised veal shanks with cooked vegetables in a broth made with white wine.

A traditional recipe for Osso Buco includes cooked tomatoes, celery, onions, and carrots along with veal shanks, which are braised to make them tender.  Other meats like pork are frequently featured in osso bucco recipes as well.


Supplì originated from Rome and variations date back several centuries.  They are traditional Italian snacks made from rice, tomato sauce, and stuffed with either cheese or meats.  The balls are then soaked in egg, breaded and lightly fried.

While older traditional recipes for Supplì included ingredients like mincemeat and chicken giblets stuffed inside, today, Supplì stuffing usually consists of mozzarella cheese, risotto and occasionally tomato sauce to give it an extra layer of flavor.

Travel Tip
As with most countries in Europe, tipping at restaurants in Italy is not expected.  Leave a 1 or 2 euro coin if you were happy with the experience.


Saltimbocca is a classical dish that literally means "jumps in your mouth".  The dish is made from veal that is wrapped with sage leaves and prosciutto before being marinated in a variety of mixtures and cooked in a pan.

The marinade will vary from place to place in Italy but common marinades for Saltimbocca include wine, saltwater, and oil while more traditional recipes also include a wine and butter sauce.

Bistecca Fiorentina

Bistecca Fiorentina is beef steak Florentine style as this particular dish originated from Florence in the northern part of Italy.

This widely popular Italian steak dish involves taking beef that originates from Chianina or Maremmana cattle and cooking it over wood or charcoal.  Right after the steak is removed from the heat, it is quickly seasoned with an application of olive oil, salt, and black pepper.

Bistecca Fiorentina is traditionally served rare and thick and is often shared by 2 people due to the size.


Brasato is a classical beef stew that combines rich flavors with stewed meat.  Originally made by farmers who would toss in the leftover meats after selling the best cuts at the market, these lesser cuts would be slowly stewed throughout the day along with spices, herbs, and vegetables, making the meat tender and delicious.

Today it can be cooked much quicker but the rich taste and tender meat still remains a staple of Brasato.  Some variations of Brasato include stewing the meat in Barolo wine along with celery, onions, and carrots for flavor.


You probably know polpette better as simply a meatball.  Meatballs, known in Italy as polpette, are either traditionally eaten as a main course dish or included in certain types of soups.

Italian meatballs are traditionally made with either beef or pork along with chopped garlic, olive oil, Romano cheese, bread crumbs and of course, parsley.

Polpette are usually the size of a golf ball but there are also some traditional variations that go noticeably smaller like the polpette in Teramo which are as small as marbles.
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