One thing you can’t say about us is that we’re inconsistent, we’re talking about Italy, and we’ll talk about Italy until we don’t get any apartments around Europe. While we talk about Italy and try to get you to come here more and more, we also like to remind you how important Italian dishes are to your well being, and how Italian cuisine is sometimes the most important aspect of coming to the country.
You can’t deny that authentic Italian food is something that is famous all around the world, just think about every Italian restaurant you’ll ever find whoever you go, I mean you’ll find them everywhere. There’s at least one restaurant that specializes in traditional Italian food even in your home town, I’m sure of it.
So how am I going to go on about Italian dishes in a dictionary post? I was thinking about giving you some insight on the main Italian food recipes that you’ll find in every menu, so when you’re reading the ingredients and they aren’t translated perfectly, you’ll know what you’re getting beforehand. Plus, this way you’ll look super-local ordering famous Italian pasta dishes with no bother.
Let the Italian food list begin
Spaghetti alla bottarga
I said famous pasta, but I’m only putting one pasta dish here, cause you really can’t think that the top 10 authentic Italian dishes are only pasta based. Popular Italian food spans across dishes, and regional cultures. The Spaghetti all bottarga, is a fish-based dish made with oil and fish eggs (not caviar) and I have to say it’s a delight. You can find bottarga in your supermarket and once you buy it you just need to grate it like parmesan in a little bowl of oil and a small piece of garlic. Let it sit while the pasta is cooking and wham bam thank you, ma’am, you’ve got a 5-minute sauce for your pasta.
From now on the famous Italian dishes get a bit more complicated to make at home, at least you have that first one to make it through a lunch, or many. The Ribollita is vegetable stew originally from Tuscany, its ingredients are as simple as vegetables and bread. Having a working-class background, it was made with leftover minestrone and dried up bread to make the stew a bit more filling.
Defo one of the northern Italian food MVPs, the Ossobuco is a meat-eater tester that you have to try when in Milan, or anywhere in Lombardia. A Meat-based stew that is slowly cooked with vegetables, white wine, and broth. The specialty of this dish is the bone marrow that you must eat if you order an Ossobuco. It’s the goddamn name of the dish.
Now actually what I said about the dishes getting complicated isn’t completely true, as the Pinzimonio is probably the easiest thing to do. It’s a vegetable crudité, you’ve got your carrots, your artichokes, your celery and whatever other vegetables you want to add. That’s not all, cause at that point you’d just be eating raw vegetables, the real magic of the Pinzimonio is the dressing you prepare for it. An extremely simple mix of oil, black pepper, and salt. Some people put balsamic vinegar, that’s not OG.
I can’t stress this enough Arancini is no doubt one of my favorite, and that means generally the best, southern Italian food. A fried rice ball, with a whole range of fillings, like ragù, peas and butter, and I’ve also found one version that had squid ink (Nero di Seppia). If you get a chance to try one, remember me.
Saltimbocca alla Romana
Literally, Saltimbocca means “that jump in your mouth” and I’ll never get over that name, cause they really are so good that you can’t stop eating them, and plus it’s really funny. This traditionally Roman dish, even though today you can find variations in all of Italy, and in Switzerland and Greece, is made of veal that is wrapped in prosciutto and sage. You’ve probably had a chicken version of it as they are increasingly popular around the world than its veal counterpart.
Originally a northern European dish, Baccalà is salted cod. You’ll be thinking why is salted cod on the list when it comes from Norway? Well, it’s that the cultural contamination brought to Italy a variety of dishes to make with Baccalà. Just think about how Italy is the second consumer of Baccalà in the world, after Portugal, so yeah Southern Europeans enjoy salted cod a lot more I guess. One of my preferred ways of eating Baccalà is “mantecato” that is like a paste, and usually served on a crostino. If you’re lucky it’s a polenta crostino.
The epitome of Livorno cuisine, one of the main port cities of Tuscany, Cacciucco is the poor man’s fish stew that never went out of style and became more and more popular as time went by. It’s little a mix of fish and vegetables, and I can’t even say exactly what fish you’ll find as the recipe states that you need 5 different types of fish, one for each C in the name. Plus it’s said that the name comes from the Turkish “kaçukli” that means “odds and ends”. The only thing I can say is that there is fish and tomato sauce.
Coda alla Vaccinara
A piece of Rome is in this dish, born from the butchers of Regola, the Coda alla Vaccinara is an oxtail, celery and carrot stew that you need to try at least once in your life. It’s cooked for hours on end, and the result is magnificent, you can’t think about anything better than being in Rome and enjoying this dish.
And let’s go back home to Tuscany, where you can enjoy another vegetable and bread base dish. Tuscans had a lot of inventive, but not that much money when buying ingredients. Panzanella, compared to the Ribollita, is a salad type plate perfect for that Tuscan heat in which you can’t think straight, so you definitely can’t eat anything heavy. Bread, tomatoes, onions, why not some cucumbers, and a tad of basil. Never forget the olive oil.
What can I say there really isn’t a national dish of Italy, the cuisine is pretty diverse so it’s hard to find a plate and say it’s the best Italian food. Even though the Italian breakfast food is pretty amazing…