Food Guide: Italy
A guide to the best food in Italy
Food is one of the highlights of any holiday to Italy. From doughy pizza laden with mozzarella and fresh tomatoes, to pasta in various shapes and sizes dressed in a slow-roasted sauce or oozing with cheese. Cured meats, cheeses and carbs are staples on the menu, dressed in a variety of sauces and oils that pay homage to the country’s beautiful Mediterranean landscapes. Here’s our round-up of culinary delights you should be sampling on your holiday to Italy.
Filling and oh-so delicious, pizza has become a favourite dish around the world, but having the real deal in Italy is perhaps one of the highlights of any holiday to this part of Europe. Dating back to 1889 and Queen Margherita’s requests, the famous combination of doughy base, tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil is a must-try. There are two different types of pizza to sample in Italy – one is Neapolitan style, and the other is Roman-style. Neapolitan pizza has a fluffy and thicker crust and can be stuffed with cheese, while Roman-style is thinner and more crispy, with a firm bite. The key to any good pizza is fewer ingredients that are high in quality, so be wary of pizza restaurants that load their bases with toppings to cover cheap ingredients.
Italy is famous for it’s soups, and this one which hails from Tuscany is a firm favourite, especially in cooler months. Thickened with bread rather than meat, this savoury dish has roots in the former peasant region of Italy’s countryside, and is considered an absolute treat in the autumn months when the harvest is bountiful. Recipes vary depending on availability of ingredients, but common staples in this dish include cannellini beans, bread, kale, cabbage, chard, celery, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots and onion. In Florence, Ribollita is a common example of traditional Italian food, and is eaten as a starter before a main course of pasta.
With so many pasta dishes to choose from in Italian cuisine, trying to select a couple as recommendations is very tricky indeed, but carbonara has to be one of the most famous Italian foods, with many locals feeling very particular about how the dish is made and the ingredients within it. The dish is actually very simple, containing just eggs, spaghetti, pecorino cheese, black pepper and cured guanciale or bacon. Other variations contain cream. The best way to get a traditional variation is to ask a local, and let them recommend a restaurant that is famed for its carbonara recipe. Alternatively, grab a few recommended ingredients from your local supermarket and whip up your own version in the kitchen of your Villa Campanella.
Arancini and Supplì
These are examples of freshly fried rice balls. Arancini comes from Sicily, while Supplì hails from Rome. You’ll find these decadent snacks all across Italy in wine bars, restaurants and at festivals offering street food. Arancini’s name means ‘small orange’ and is usually stuffed with some form of cheese, as well as other vegetables like aubergine or mushrooms. Supplì is typically served as a starter as part of an antipasti platter, and is most common in pizza or pasta restaurants, typically containing mozzarella, rice and tomato sauce. To get an authentic ball, make sure it is freshly fried upon ordering!
When you’re not indulging in gelato, this is next on the must-try desserts list. Probably the country’s most beloved dessert, Tiramisu is a no-bake parfait containing layer upon layer of coffee-soaked sponge fingers and mascarpone cheese. Sometimes, cream or egg whites are added to give a lighter texture, so the dessert isn’t too dense. The dish dates back to the 1960s, and again, many locals may not agree on the right or wrong way to make it. A good quality Tiramisu should contain only the best coffee and mascarpone. Sometimes, other cakes or cookies are substituted for ladyfingers. Again, ask a local for restaurant recommendations and they will be sure to point you in the right direction of a good Tiramisu.
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