Italy is famous for its culture, beautiful scenery, and its sweet and savory Italian delicacies. The Mediterranean is known to cook up dishes passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years. Italian cuisine is all about using fresh herbs, prosciutto, and over 400 different cheeses made in the city.
Here are the top 5 must-try dishes and iconic foods to eat the next time you travel to Italy.
Lasagna is one of the most loved classic Italian dishes aside from pizza. This dish originated from Naples and is made by layering a flat pasta noodles with cheese, vegetables, meat, and tomato or béchamel sauce. The cheeses used are typically Parmigiano Reggiano, mozzarella, or both. There are many versions of lasagna in Italy but you’ll find that their lasagna tastes much different from America. Italians use less sugar in their tomato and béchamel sauce making their dish more savory and less sweet.
2. Ossobuco Alla Milanese.
Meat lovers salivate over Milan Italy’s Osso Buco Alla Milanese. Ossobuco is a veal shank that’s cooked slowly for three hours in a broth mixture of white wine, vegetables, and meat stock. Because of its long cooking time, it’s difficult to find in many Italian restaurants. However, in Milan, you can find it in most trattorie and osterie. Ossobuco Alla Milanese is a popular dish in Italy and usually is topped with garlic, parsley, and lemon zest, or gremolata.
You won’t find better gelato than you would in Italy. Gelato is an Italian ice cream that contains less air and a lower amount of butterfat than traditional ice cream. It’s rich in texture and has an intense sweet flavor. It’s hard not to find fresh artisanal gelato anywhere in Italy, especially in the summer. You can find gelato in light flavors such as strawberry and limone, and with added savory ingredients such as ginger, basil, and cinnamon.
In Italy, you can choose from fluffy Roman-style crust or the paper-thin Neopolitan-styles pizza. What makes pizza an iconic food in Italy is the history Naples has with Queen Margherita. In 1889 after the queen discovered this simple dish, she had her personal chefs create a variety of pizzas based on her favorite flavors. Her favorite was a pizza that looked like the Italian flag with basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese. They named it the Margherita pizza we all know and love today.
Truffles are an elusive fungus that is not to be confused with the dessert. The French and Italian countryside grows them in abundance. In Italy, you’ll find the freshest truffles (and the most expensive) in the finest cuisines especially in the fall. In Tuscany, white truffles sell for over $3,000 per pound. We commonly use truffles as a garnish in pasta dishes, risotto, scrambled eggs, and as an oil. Truffles have an intoxicating musky fragrance with notes of garlic roasted in butter. They are impossible to cultivate and required highly trained dogs to harvest them.