Italian Food: 61 Dishes That Are ACTUALLY Authentic


Silas & Grace

A blue bowl full of some Italian pasta.

Nothing is better than Italian food.

Ok maybe that’s not true, because if I had to pick my husband over Italian, I’d pick him without even thinking.

But you get the idea!

Italian food is made up of fresh and delicious ingredients, with a whole lot of other incredible spices and herbs. 

And after having visited Italy a couple of times, I can honestly say that it’s one of my favorite cuisines out there (Mexican food comes first).

It has centuries of traditions and recipes passed down, so it makes it an incredibly fun task to explore and try at home, or in Italy.

And if you’re also an Italian food enthusiast, like me, then check out the amazing recipes down below!

What is Typical Italian Food?

Italy is a big country, with so many different regional ingredients, and specialties. So it’s a little hard to pinpoint what typical Italian food really is.

Also, since Italy was a bunch of different Italian states, until the Unification of Italy in the 19th century, that means you’re going to get dishes that originally weren’t associated with being ‘Italian.’

Oh, and there are different influences, such as local game and seasonal produce, which will affect the kind of foods you’re eating.

I suppose the point I’m trying to make is this; you can’t really say what typical Italian food is, since there are so many different variations across the country!

You just have to go region by region, and explore it yourself! 😊

61 Italian Foods to Try

I think it’s amazing if I can help you find places in your life to level up, and that includes food.

In fact, I created this post of amazing Italian foods so that you (and I) could try new recipes, and become geniuses with cooking skills.

You deserve to live a life where you know you’re working towards becoming the best version of yourself, and I want to help you get there.

So let’s take part in some amazing Italian gastronomy, and literally make you the best cook you know. 👍

Related: 7 Incredible Italian Desserts👌

Italian Antipasto

1. Formaggi – The Italian Cheeses

Different Italian cheeses stacked on each other, or places artfully, on a white plate.

When you go to Italy, trying their cheeses is kind of a must. 

I remember going to the restaurant, that you see in the photo above, and trying their cheeses. They were so good, and had so many flavors to try!

And if you want to try them yourself, then here are some Italian cheeses to take note on:

  • Pecorino: Hard cheeses that come from sheep’s milk.
  • Asiago: A cow’s milk cheese that’s hard, or semi-hard.
  • Ricotta: A creamy milk cheese with a curd-like texture. Great for many recipes.
  • Mascarpone: A creamy cheese that you can whip, or spread, on bread. 
  • Taleggio: Semi-soft with a strong aroma. It becomes softer when it’s warm out, and can go with dishes such with risotto or cheeseboards.
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano: Different than the (sadly fake) parmesan you get in the stores, and so much better. Would highly recommend looking for a Parmigiano-Reggiano that’s been aged for 24 months (it’ll say it on the wrapper).
  • Gorgonzola: A crumbly Italian blue cheese.
  • Provolone: A soft cheese used for sandwiches, and made from cow’s milk.
  • Fontina: A semi-soft to hard cheese made with cow’s milk.
  • Mozzarella: A classic many people have already had, and goes well on many things.

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2. Prosciutto di Parma (Parma Ham)

Italian dish with Prosciutto.

Region: Emilia-Romagna

Have I Had it Yet: Yes

There are different variations of prosciutto in Italy, some a lot more expensive than others depending on the cut.

Now, prosciutto can mean basically any kind of ham, but what we normally think of is the dry cured type.

Also, this meat is made from the hind leg of either a pig or wild boar, and you’ll see it served as antipasto.

Italian Soups & Sides

3. Tortellini in Brodo

A white bowl full of Italian Tortellini in Brodo.
Photo by Filippo Cantoni from Getty Images

Region: Emilia-Romagna

Have I Had it Yet: No

This soup looks so hearty and delicious! With tasty ingredients like tortellini, beef, and the marrow from bones, I don’t know how this Italian recipe couldn’t taste good.

I could just imagine myself grabbing a hot bowl of this tortellini soup, shaving some fresh parmesan on top, and sinking into a comfortable seat to devour it!

Tortellini Soup Recipe

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4. Stracciatella Soup

A spoon holding some of the Italian Stracciatella soup, over the bowl.
Photo by Christina’s Cucina

Region: Marche, Lazio, Abruzzo

Have I Had it Yet: No

This feels like the kind of soup you’d have on a cold autumn day. And when it’s packed with yummy ingredients, that just makes it even more of a comfort food.

I mean, with cheese, eggs, and breadcrumbs, how do you even go wrong? Like this all sounds so incredibly good! I could also just imagine paring this with freshly baked bread. ❤️ 

Stracciatella Soup Recipe

5. Rosemary Focaccia Bread

Italian Focaccia bread on a wood platter.

Region: Liguria

Have I Had it Yet: Yes

Rosemary focaccia bread is so good! It’s melts in your mouth, is super soft, and the aromatic rosemary makes it super irresistible! 

It’s the kind of hot and fresh bread that’s great to eat as is, or pair with a soup.

Rosemary Focaccia Bread Recipe

6. Minestrone

A pot full of the Italian soup, minestrone.
Photo by luchezar from Getty Images Signature

Region: Liguria

Have I Had it Yet: Yes

While a lot of people think of minestrone as something to have during the colder months, it’s actually an Italian soup that can be made year-round.

You’ll find it being served hot in the winter, warm in the spring or autumn, and even cold in the summer.

Oh, also when it comes to authentic minestrone, ingredients can also differ. 

So you’ll find in season vegetables like pumpkin in the colder months, or zucchini being used for the warmer months

Minestrone Recipe

 7. Caprese Salad

A bowl full of Italian Caprese Salad.
Photo by Christina’s Cucina

Region: Island of Capri (Disputed)

Have I Had it Yet: Yes

A very simple dish to make if you want to have a fresh Italian salad for the evening.

I mean, it consists of tomato, basil, mozzarella, and olive oil. It can’t get much simpler (or tastier) than that.

Caprese salad can be served as an antipasto, but it’s typically eaten after dinner in Italy (as salads usually are).

Quick Tip: If you want the authentic version, then no vinegars are added.

Caprese Salad Recipe

8. Bruschetta

Three Italian bruschetta with diced tomatoes and basil on top.
Photo by Lucie Liz from Pexels

Region: Tuscany

Have I Had it Yet: Yes

When it comes to authentic bruschetta, it’s a simple recipe to make.

It consists of grilled bread that’s been rubbed with garlic, drizzled in olive oil, and topped with salt.

The key here is to make sure that you’re using high-quality ingredients. So you’re making bruschetta with good crusty bread, great olive oil, and if you top it with tomatoes, they needs to be perfectly ripe.

It’s all about freshness and quality for amazing flavors. 👌

Bruschetta Recipe

9. Vitello Tonnato

A plate of the Italian food, Vitello.
Photo by mahbub hasan from Getty Images

Region: Lombardy

Have I Had it Yet: No

Vitello Tonnato is an Italian food that translates out to ‘tunnied veal.’

So essentially, you’re getting slices of veal that are topped with a tuna sauce.

The sauce is creamy, and is served chilled, or at room temperature, during the summer.

Also, it’s apparently a very elegant antipasto for a nice dinner!

Vitello Tonnato Recipe

Italian Main Dishes

10. Pizza Napoletana

A closeup of Italian Pizza Napoletana.
Photo by fpwing from Getty Images

Region: Campania

Have I Had it Yet: No

Known as a Naples-style pizza, it’s a pretty simple, but delicious looking pizza made with tomato and mozzarella cheese.

Now genuine Neapolitan pizza is made up of brewers yeast (or Neapolitan yeast), wheat flour, salt, and water. 

There are also other interesting restrictions as to where the ingredients can come from, if it’s going to be called a “Neapolitan pizza.”

So, for instance, the tomatoes must be either from Pomodorino del Piennolo del Vesuvio, or San Marzano tomatoes. Interesting right?

Pizza Neapolitan Recipe

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11. Margherita Pizza

Italian Margherita Pizza on a table top.
Photography By Tonelson from Getty Images

Region: Campania

Have I Had it Yet: Yes

First created in the late 1800s by a pizza maker named, Raffaele Esposito, it was created with the purpose honoring the visiting Italian queen (Margherita of Savoy), and Italian unification.

Also, the toppings are inspired by the Italian flag. So the red would be the tomato, the white would be the mozzarella, and basil would be the green.

It’s a simple, but very delicious pizza, made with amazingly fresh and high-quality ingredients. I can’t wait to make this one myself!

Margherita Pizza Recipe

12. Braciole

The Italian food, Braciole, on a white plate.
Photo by ALLEKO from Getty Images

Region: Campania

Have I Had it Yet: No

If you’re a meat lover, then this Italian food recipe is a great one to try!

Braciole are rolled up slices of beef that have a tasty filling of cheese, garlic, and parsley.

There’s simmered in a wonderful looking tomato sauce, and look like a great dish to order at a restaurant, or make at home. 

Braciole Recipe

13. Risotto

A bowl full of Italian risotto with mushrooms and shrimp on top.

Region: Campania

Have I Had it Yet: Yes

I love risotto, it’s one of my favorite Italian foods.

The basic risotto recipe is made up of toasted rice, that’s flavored with sautéed onions, and simmered in broth.

And of course, you can add some grated cheese, and sometimes butter.

Fun Fact: It’s often served as a first course, before the main meal in Italy! 

Risotto Recipe

14. Gnocchi

Freshly made Italian gnocchi on a floured surface.
Photo by Anna Guerrero from Pexels

Region: Northern Italy

Have I Had it Yet: Yes

Gnocchi are essentially small dumplings that are made up of flour, potatoes, eggs, and salt.

They’re incredibly simple, but have amazing texture, and can take on the flavors of so many amazing ingredients.

Fun Fact: Apparently, it was a traditional recipe in the Roman times. It was introduced by the Roman legions, when they were expanding the empire into other European countries.

Gnocchi Recipe

15. Ribollita

A bowl full of Italian Ribollita, with a spoon on the side.
Photo by wsmahar from Getty Images Signature

Region: Tuscany

Have I Had it Yet: No

Also known as Tuscan minestrone, it’s a dish that’s made ahead of time.

And when you’re ready to have it, it’s layered with bread, and reheated before serving.

You’re getting tasty ingredients like olive oil, plenty of fresh veggies, and some well-structured bread.

Fun Fact: In the past, it was known as a typical poor dish for peasants. The peasants would cook a large quantity of it, and then boil it in pans in the following days.

Ribollita Recipe

16. Bagna Cauda

Italian Bagna cauda being shared together by two people.
Photo by Alain Intraina from Getty Images

Region: Piedmont

Have I Had it Yet: No

Bagna Cauda translates out to ‘hot sauce’ in English, and refers to a pretty typical Piedmontese dish that’s meant for communal eating.

It’s something that’s popular during the colder months, and has been said to be a cross between fondue and pinzimonio.

But essentially, it’s an assortment of raw and steamed veggies, which you can dip into a sauce made of garlic, anchovies, butter, and other tasty ingredients.

Bagna Cauda Recipe

17. Polenta

A blue bowl full of Italian Polenta, and black pepper on top.

Region: Northern Italy

Have I Had it Yet: Yes, photo of my experiment above.

Difficulty Level: Very easy.

Cooking Notes: It’s a super quick and easy dish to make, and it tastes incredible. Also, I would definitely try the polenta recipe down below, it’s very creamy and rich!

Being a staple in Northern Italian cuisine, and dating back to at least 990 BC., Polenta is such a good accompaniment to so many dinners!

It’s super simple since you’re normally going to see it be made with cornmeal, water, and salt.

As for serving, you’ll see it being made into a hot porridge, or cooled and solidified into a loaf. And when it’s made into a loaf, it can be baked, grilled, or fried.

And however you make and serve it, it’s always going to be great comfort food!

Polenta Recipe

18. Tortellini and Ravioli

A plate full of the Italian food, tortellini.

Tortellini Region: Emilia-Romagna

Ravioli Region: Northern Italy

Have I Had it Yet: Yes to both.

There’s so many delicious and tasty stuffed pastas in Italy.

And of course, the most well-known ones, that we see in restaurants, are tortellini and ravioli.

Tortellini comes from Emilia-Romagna, and is traditionally stuffed with a mix of meats (like pork loin and prosciutto), Parmigiano-Reggiano, and other great ingredients.

And as for ravioli (from Northern Italy), the fillings can change according to the region they’re prepared. So in places like Rome, you’ll see fillings such as ricotta cheese, spinach, black pepper, and nutmeg.

There really are so many amazing recipes out there for these two dishes, so try a few and see what you like best!

Tortelli Recipe

Ravioli Recipe

19. Arancini

A white serving tray holding some Italian arancini.
Photo by Christina’s Cucina

Region: Sicily

Have I Had it Yet: No

Also known as Sicilian rice balls, they’re crispy deep-fried balls of rice (risotto), that have this amazing sounding meat sauce, and a mozzarella filling.

Oh also, besides mozzarella, you’ll see other types of arancini which are made with ingredients like a tomato meat sauce and peas.

Arancini Recipe

20. Tartufo (Truffle)

Dessert with truffle on it.

Region: Piedmont and other regions

Have I Had it Yet: No

Truffle is such an amazing ingredient to have in your dishes!

And of course they are traditional to Italian cuisine.

While expensive, they have some amazing flavors, and can be used in so many different ways.

Fun Fact: The most expensive and rarest white truffles are found in Piedmont, in a place called Alba.

21. Bistecca Fiorentina

The Italian food, Bistecca Fiorentina, cut up on a wood platter at a restaurant.
Photo by  ValentinaFa from Getty Images

Region: Tuscany

Have I Had it Yet: No

This is a steak dish that I hear a lot about!

Bisteccs alla Fiorentina translates out to ‘steak Florentine,’ and is very typical in Italy. So much so that if you just say Fiorentina, they’ll know exactly what to serve you.

Now it’s meant to be made with Chianina beef in Italy, but if you’re using choice or prime grade meat, then you should be all good to try this Italian food at home.

Bistecca Fiorentina Recipe

22. Bottarga

A plate of pasta that has Italian bottarga mixed in.
Photo by Angel__A from Getty Images

Region: Sicily and Sardinia

Have I Had it Yet: No

Bottarga is a salted cured fish roe pouch, and it’s a delicacy.

And while it’s seen around the Mediterranean, the Italians make it from blue fin tuna, in Sicily, and flathead mullet.

It’s often served as an appetizer with olive oil or lemon juice, and accompanied by bread, or seen in pasta dishes.

I’ve also heard the flavor be compared to a cross between caviar and anchovies, but more delicate.

23. Fritto Misto Piedmontese

Someone holding a to-go meal of Italian Fritto Misto.
Photo by romrodinka from Getty Images

Region: Piedmont

Have I Had it Yet: No

There are different versions of Fritto Misto, which literally translates out to ‘mixed fried.’

But the one that has my interest is Fritto Misto Piedmontese.

You get different pieces of meat like pork, sausage, lamb chops, and veal. But you’ll also see sweetbreads, fruits, and veggies in the mix as well. Then it’s all breaded and fried, and can be served as an appetizer, or apart of a second course.

24. Pasta Napoletana

A hand holding a white bowl of Italian Pasta Napoletana.

Region: Napoli

Have I Had it Yet? Yes, photo of my experiment above.

In Italy or At Home? Home.

Difficulty Level: Wasn’t that hard, I think all together, it should take under 30 minutes to cook.

Cooking Notes: Super tasty, but I look forward to trying it in Italy. Sauce wasn’t too heavy, but tasted just right and had a lot of flavor! Also, there were certain things I didn’t have like parmesan cheese for a topping, or a can of crushed tomatoes. So I ended using 3 roma tomatoes, and a Spanish cheese. Still very tasty!

Pasta Napoletana Recipe

25. Bucantini All’ Amatriciana

A bowl of Bucantini All' Amatriciana.

Region: Lazio

Have I Had it Yet: Yes

I’m pretty sure I could eat an entire bowl of this Italian food and not even blink.

I love the fact that it’s made with black pepper, and chiles, giving it a bit of a kick. Also with the guanciale, an Italian cured meat, I could imagine this being an incredibly rich and tasty dish.

Bucantini All’ Amatriciana Recipe


26. Ossobuco Milanese

A plate of Italian ossobuco

Region: Lombardy

Have I Had it Yet: Yes! Very good!

A slow cooked veal recipe with a white wine sauce and fresh herbs, I honestly don’t know how you couldn’t make this Italian food.

I mean slow cooker meals are already pretty good, but making a traditional slow cooked Italian recipe sounds even better.

There’s just something about those old world recipes, that take a lot of time to make, and end up tasting like you’re eating at a fancy restaurant right in the middle of Milan.

Ossobucco Milanese Recipe

27. Gnocchetti Pasta

Italian Gnocchetti Pasta on a floured surface.
Photo by Enza’s Quail Hollow Kitchen

Region: Sardinia

Have I Had it Yet: No

Gnocchi is widely known for being made with potatoes, but this Sardinian specialty is simply made with Semolina flour and water.

And once you have it made, you can test it out with different Italian sauces!

Gnocchetti Pasta Recipe

28. Carbonara

The Italian pasta recipe, Carbonara, on a white plate.

Region: Lazio

Have I Had it Yet? Yes, photo above.

In Italy or At Home? In Italy and at home.

Difficulty Level: Very easy! Super simple ingredients that all taste great together!

Cooking Notes: Very creamy and rich. Also, the bacon really does add that nice savory crispy flavor, and texture! One thing to note is to make sure you don’t cook it in the egg yolk sauce for too long, or at too high of a temperature. Otherwise the egg will start to cook, and you’ll have scrambled eggs in your pasta. 😂

Carbonara Recipe


29. Stracotto (Tuscan Pot Roast)

Region: Tuscany

Have I Had it Yet: No

I’ve never been a big fan of pot roast growing up, but I think that if I tried this, I’d be converted.

I read the description for this one, and I know I’m gonna love it when I either make it myself or have it in Italy.

With wine, cheese, pancetta, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes, I don’t know how this couldn’t be good.

Stracotto Recipe

30. Pasta alla Norma

A white bowl full of Italian Pasta alla Norma.

Region: Sicily

Have I Had it Yet: Yes, photo above.

Difficulty Level: The prepping and cooking were not hard at all. However, just a few steps take a little longer than normal. So if you have the time to make this for dinner, then I’d say go for it! It’s very tasty!

I LOVE making big pots of pasta mixed with spices and herbs and other yummy ingredients. And this Aubergine Pasta recipe is very good. 

A classic in Sicily, it’s a delicious concoction of eggplant, olive oil, basil, tomato, and more. It really is a good one to try in Italy, or at home.

Aubergine Pasta (Pasta alla Norma) Recipe

31. Costolette d’agnello

Region: Lazio

Have I Had it Yet: No

This sounds like the perfect home cooked meal.

Also, because it’s Italian, you know it’s going to packed with flavor!

Made with garlic, wine vinegar, rosemary, and so many other good ingredients, this should probably be on your meal plan for this week!

Costolette d’agnello Recipe

32. Pizza Rustica (Italian Savory Easter Pie)

A cut up Italian Pizza Rustica, on a green plate.
Photo by eZeePics Studio from Getty Images

Region: Campania

Have I Had it Yet: No

I love trying ethnic foods that are based around a holiday, and I also love savory pie recipes, so this is going to be a fun one to try!

It has eggs, multiple kinds of meat, plenty of spices, cheese, ricotta, and so much more; I honestly don’t know how you can’t try this!

Pizza Giana Rustica Recipe

33. Ragu alla Bolognese

A bowl full of the Italian dish, Ragu alla Bolognese.
Photo by Claudio Caridi from Getty Images

Region: Emilia-Romagna

Have I Had it Yet: No

Big thick pasta is kind of the best.

The texture is so good, and it holds so much more sauce on it.

Like, this is the kind of dinner you make when you either want to have a (very nice) date night in. Or, when you have your friends over for the evening, and you’re all swapping stories, and watching a movie with a big bowl of this pasta.

Ragu alla Bolognese Recipe


34. Lasagna al Forno

Italian Lasagna al Forno in a white serving tray.
Photo by JoeGough from Getty Images

Region: Emilia-Romagna

Have I Had it Yet: No

Lasagna actually is an authentic recipe, but they make it a bit different.

In this one, they have a bolognese sauce, and a béchamel sauce, which makes this a super creamy and rich lasagna recipe. I honestly don’t think Olive Garden could win here!

Fun Fact: it was originally made with no tomato based sauces. Tomatoes were a new world ingredient, so that hadn’t been incorporated into the Italian diet just yet.

Lasagna al Forno Recipe

35. Torta Pasqualina

A slice of Italin Torta Pasqualina, on a plate.
Photo by Geshas from Getty Images

Region: Liguria

Have I Had it Yet: No

Puff pastry, egg, ricotta, spinach, and so many other yummy ingredients! I would try this in a heartbeat if I saw it on a menu!

I’m honestly not the biggest fan of things with cooked spinach. However, this looks incredibly tasty, so I probably wouldn’t mind! 🤷‍♀️

Torta Pasqualina Recipe

36. Pasta Al Forno

A serving spoon dipping into Italian Pasta Al Forno.
Photo by Christina’s Cucina

Region: Calabria

Have I Had it Yet: No

Baked pasta dishes are probably one of the best ideas when it comes to cooking, and I’m going to assume that the Italians do it expertly.

This is an Italian food I would try in a heartbeat! It’s cheesy and creamy, and filled with meats, different cheeses, and so much more.

Pasta Al Forno Recipe

37. Gnocchi alla Sorrentina

Italian Gnocchi alla Sorrentina in a black serving bowl.
Photo by Christina’s Cucina

Region: Campania

Have I Had it Yet: No

Imagine this: Soft pillowy gnocchi soaked in a garlicky, creamy, cheesy, tangy sauce, and packed with tons of flavors from the different herbs and spices.

That’s this Italian comfort food recipe right here.

Gnocchi alla Sorrentina Recipe


38. Penne Pomodoro

Region: Campania

Have I Had it Yet: Yes.

Cooking Notes: Very tasty, but I didn’t have exact measurements (since I was staying at an Airbnb with no measuring cups at the time of making this). Also, I didn’t have oregano or parsley, so will try this again and see if the flavor is much different!

It’s a simple pasta dish with an easy but delicious sauce. This is basically for the people who don’t want a pasta sauce out of a jar, but want to make something homemade.

And with basil, garlic, tomatoes, onions, cheese, and other ingredients, it’s a great recipe to make if you’re craving Italian food. 🙂

Penne Pomodoro Recipe

39. Penne Arrabbiata

The Italian food, Penne Arrabbiata, in a blue bowl.

Region: Lazio

Have I Had it Yet? Yep, photo above of my results!

In Italy or At Home? Home.

Difficulty Level: It was a very quick and easy dinner, and definitely good comfort food.

Another simple pasta dish for a quick dinner night, but this time it’s spicy!

I think spicy pasta recipes are some of the funnest dishes to eat, and you can always alter the amount of spice you add into the recipe.

Also, it takes just 20 minutes, so you’re not investing a ton of time into the process!

Penne Arrabbiata Recipe


40. Italian Braciole (Braciola)

A bowl of Italian Braciole.
Photo by ALLEKO from Getty Images

Region: Apulia

Have I Had it Yet: No

I love meat dishes swimming in a delicious sauce, and this Beef Braciole looks so good!

Basically, it’s thin slices of beef filled with parmesan, breadcrumbs, garlic, and parsley, then slowly braised in a wine sauce. It’s kind of the perfect Italian food you need for those nights where you’re craving something super savory and filling!

Beef Braciole Recipe

41. Cotoletta alla Milanese

Italian Cotoletta alla Milanese on a plate with salad.
Photo by ALLEKO from Getty Images

Region: Lombardy

Have I Had it Yet: No

Coming from Milan, this Italian food is a breaded veal chop, that’s been browned in butter.

Apparently, it’s very typical dish, and if you order ‘una milanese’ at a restaurant in Italy, they’ll know exactly what you want.

Cotoletta alla Milanese Recipe

42. Risotto di Seppie alla Veneziana

The Italian dish, Risotto di Seppie alla Veneziana, in a white bowl.
Photo by HAKJINKIM from Getty Images

Region: Veneto

Have I Had it Yet: No

If you like risotto, then you might want to try this cuttlefish ink risotto, that’s done Venetian style.

Being a very common dish in Venice, I think it might be a great Italian food to get if you like seafood! 

Also, the ink apparently adds a bit of creaminess to this dish, which I didn’t see coming!

Risotto di Seppie alla Veneziana Recipe

43. Baccalà

Italian Baccalà on a red plate.
Photo by ArianeCantador from Getty Images

Region: Veneto

Have I Had it Yet: No

Baccalá is dried and salted cod, that can be cooked in many different ways.

So for instance, you might see it fried, oven roasted, or served with different Italian sauces.

And with whatever recipe you choose, I think it’s a great way to explore Italian seafood dishes!

Filetti di Baccalà Recipe

44. Canederli

Three Italian Canederli in a white bowl.
Photo by Olga Mazyarkina from Getty Images

Region: Alto Adige

Have I Had it Yet: No

Canederli are Italian bread dumplings, that are made up of speck (smoked pork belly) stale bread, flour, milk, and eggs.

It’s also a very common dish you’ll see in Austria, and the Italian region of Alto Adige, which used to be a part of the Austrian Empire.

Oh, and it’s apparently a very simple recipe to make, so I’d definitely encourage you to try it out yourself!

Canederli Recipe

45. Melanzane alla Parmigiana

Italian Melanzane alla Parmigiana in a white cooking container.
Photo by ALLEKO from Getty Images

Region: Campania, Sicily, Apulia, and Calabria.

Have I Had it Yet:

It’s an Italian bake dish made up of layered fried eggplant, a tasty looking tomato sauce, and cheeses.

It’s described as comforting, and you get tasty cheeses like mozzarella and parmesan. I can’t wait to try this one at home, or at a restaurant!

Melanzane alla Parmigiana Recipe

46. Saltimbocca alla Romana

A white plate with Italian Saltimbocca alla Romana on it.
Photo by by -lvinst- from Getty Images

Region: Lazio

Have I Had it Yet: No

Saltimbocca alla Romana are slices if veal, known as scallopine. And apparently, it’s a very famous meat dish from Rome.

Also, their name means ‘leap into the mouth,’ which already makes them sound delicious!

Oh, and you get other tasty ingredients like sage, butter, and wine, which makes the sauce sound incredibly rich!

Saltimbocca alla Romana Recipe

47. Spaghetti alle Vongole

A plate full of the Italian dish, Spaghetti alle Vongole.
Photo by ahirao_photo from Getty Images

Region: Campania

Have I Had it Yet: No

This Italian seafood dish is a classic summer recipe, and is made with a clam sauce.

Being a signature dish of Neapolitan cuisine, it’s a very popular Italian food, and can come with different sauces and pastas.

Also, it’s apparently extra tasty if you’re using fresh clams!

Spaghetti alle Vongole Recipe

Italian Sauces & Dips

48. Bolognese Sauce

A pot full of Italian Bolognese Sauce.
Photo by rudisill from Getty Images Signature

Region: Emilia-Romagna 

Have I Had it Yet: Yes

If you have the right sauce, you can make almost anything taste good.

And I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this bolognese sauce would go well on so many different types of pastas and meats!

Also, it’s slow cooked for an hour with meats, spices, wine, olive oil, wine and so many other tasty ingredients. I honestly can’t wait to try this with pasta!

Bolognese Sauce Recipe

49. Pesto Genovese

A plate full of pesto pasta.
Photo by Chasing Foxes

Region: Liguria

Have I Had it Yet: I’ve had pesto, but I don’t think I’ve had a genuine Genovese pesto.

Genoa, Italy is the birth place of pesto!

Also, genuine pesto genovese is a DOC, which stands for denominazione di origine controllata, or “controlled name of origin.” Basically, it’s protected under Italian law, as an authentic version of the recipe.

But it’s a wonderful sauce made with ingredients like Parmigiano-Reggiano, basil leaves, European pine nuts, and olive oil.

Fun Fact: The name pesto comes from the past participle of the Genovese verb pestâ, which just means ‘to pound,’ or ‘to crush.’

Pesto alla Genovese Recipe

PS – Here’s the recipe for the specific pesto chicken dish shown in the photo. Not authentic but ridiculously tasty.

Italian Desserts

50. Biscotti

The Italian food, Biscotti, stacked on each other.
Photo by Christina’s Cucina

Region: Tuscany

Have I Had it Yet: Yes

love biscotti. I’ve always been fond of this dessert since I was a kid; it wasn’t too sweet, and had a wonderful flavor!

I had heard at one point that biscotti was created to be a firm biscuit dessert, that was made specifically for dipping into coffee, while not crumbling away.

But whether that’s true or not, it really does pair well with a hot cup of coffee for an after-dinner treat!

Easy Almond Biscotti Recipe

51. Italian Tiramisu

Two slices of authentic Italian tiramisu.
Photo by Christina’s Cucina

Region: Treviso

Have I Had it Yet: Yes

I LOVE Italian tiramisu. I mean, it’s hard to go wrong with a layered cake that’s had biscuits soaked in espresso. Just make sure the espresso is good quality!

Oh, and it’s a no-bake Italian recipe meaning it’s the perfect dessert recipe for either two situations:

  1. You’re having friends and family over, you want a fancy dessert, but you don’t want to take a ton of time in the kitchen.
  2. You just want to try a new dish, but also don’t want to heat up the home because it’s a hot day. 

Also, if you like coffee, then it’s simply just a good recipe to try!

Tiramisu Recipe


52. Lemon Ricotta Cake

Region: Sicily

Have I Had it Yet: No

Lemon ricotta cake sounds incredibly delicious.

I’ve had the combination of lemon and ricotta in other sweet dishes before, and so I’m definitely excited to try it with a cake. There’s something so moist and decadent about these ingredients being used in a recipe. 

And I’m sure the Italians do it expertly!

Lemon Ricotta Cake Recipe


53. Canestrelli (Italian Egg Yolk Cookies)

Italian Canestrelli cookies stacked on each other.
Photo by SMarina from Getty Images

Region: Piedmont

Have I Had it Yet: No

These Italian egg yolk cookies look like they’d go great on a cookie tray, or with a hot cup of coffee. ☕️

Also, these shortbread cookies are made with vanilla bean, lemon zest, and butter, so I think they’re the perfect sweet treat!

Canestrelli Recipe

54. Castagnaccio (Italian Chestnut Cake)

Italian Castagnaccio that's been cut up.
Photo by beingbonny from Getty Images

Region: Liguria, Tuscany, Piedmont, and Emilia-Romagna regions

Have I Had it Yet: No

I love chestnut desserts! I once had this small hand-held, super fudgy, dark chocolate cake with a chestnut. I had gotten it from this incredible chocolate shop in Japan and it was so decadent, but not crazy sweet!

And because of that experience, I am so up for trying this Italian chestnut cake. It looks completely different, and I’m going to bet that it tastes really good!

Castagnaccio Recipe


55. Gelato

Italian gelato in a gelato shop in Rome, Italy.

A classic that I think the majority of us love! Also, it would be strange to not bring up gelato when I’m talking about Italian foods to try.

It’s a creamy cold Italian dessert made with cream, egg yolks, whole milk, sugar, and any other flavors you want.

Here’s a gelato recipe if you want to try it at home!


56. Zeppole Di San Giuseppe (St. Joseph Pastries)

A plate with four Italian Zeppole Di San Giuseppes.
Photo by Christina’s Cucina

Region: Regions south of Rome such as southern Lazio and Salerno

Have I Had it Yet: No

Enjoyed on March 19th to celebrate St. Joseph, these pastries filled with cream look incredible! 

Now I don’t know what the Italians drink them with, but I think these would go great with a cup of espresso!

Oh also, they’re either fried or baked, so I’m really excited to try both versions.

Zeppole Di San Giuseppe Recipes


57. Panna Cotta

A white plate with a molded Italian panna cotta on it, and a fruit sauce on top.
Photo by Christina’s Cucina

Region: Piedmont

Have I Had it Yet: Yes

I’ve made panna cotta before, and it’s so delicious! It’s this thickened creamy Italian dessert with gelatin.

You’ll see it be molded, and it can come with so many different sauces.

Translating out as ‘cooked cream,’ you’re just warming up some cream that’s been sweetened with sugar, and flavored with vanilla. And then you add some gelatin, and chill.

Panna Cotta Recipe

58. Cannoli

A plate full of Italian cannolis.
Photo by Quanthem from Getty Images

Region: Sicily

Have I Had it Yet: No

Coming from Sicily, cannolis are one of the most beloved Italian pastries.

And apparently, they’re pretty easy to make since they’re essentially just fried dough, with some ricotta cream.

Now there are different stories of the origin of cannolis. Some say that they were made when the island was under Arab rule.

But it’s also said that it might have just come from Palermo and Messina, which are places where this treat would have historically been served during Carnival season.

Either way though, they look pretty fun to eat!

Cannoli Recipe

59. Affogato

Coffee being poured over ice cream, making it into an Italian affogato.
Photo by Christina’s Cucina

Region: Potentially Piedmont

Have I Had it Yet: Yes

Being translated out as ‘drowned in coffee,’ Affogato is a delicious coffee Italian dessert that I’ve made many times, and love!

It’s honestly so simple.

You take some ice cream, or gelato, and drown it in shots of espresso.

But if you wanna make it more simple, then you can just get a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and pour some coffee over top.

Affogato Recipe

60. Strudel

Italian strudel, cut up on a wood platter.
Photo by A_Lein from Getty Images

Region: South Tyrol

Have I Had it Yet: Yes

Now this is a dessert that you’re going to see in many different European countries.

And in Italy, it’s recognized as a traditional agri-food product (or PAT) of South Tyrol.

But essentially, it’s a delicious dessert where the dough is filled with different ingredients (like apple), and then rolled up.

It sounds like the perfect thing to have with a hot cup of coffee!

Strudel Recipe

61. Panettone

The Italian dessert, Panettone, on a Christmas plate.
Photo by  sweetlouise from pixabay

Region: Lombardy

Have I Had it Yet: No

This Italian dessert is an Italian yeast cake, that’s normally eaten around Christmas time.

It’s described as being a cross between a cake and a bread, and is lightly sweetened.

Also, they can come with different ingredients like chocolate, nuts, candied fruits, or raisins.

It looks like such a comforting dessert to make during the holidays!

Panettone Recipe

What are the Top 10 Italian Foods?

There are a lot of top dishes, but in my opinion, and from looking over some information, these 10 seem to be must-tries if you go to Italy.

  1. Spaghetti alla Carbonara: A super creamy and rich dish made with egg yolks, guanciale (or bacon), cheese, and pepper.
  2. Risotto: A wonderful dish that has rice soaking up all the seasonings and sauces.
  3. Polenta: Made simply from corn flour and water (or milk).
  4. Napoletana Pizza: Pizza made with tomatoes from a local Italian region, and mozarella cheese.
  5. Roman-Style Pizza: A much thinner pizza with a bit of a crunch.
  6. Cured Meats and Cheeses: A lot of European countries have their own versions of cured meats and cheeses, and Italy is definitely one of them!
  7. Lasagna: Another common one we have in America and other countries, but it’s traditionally not made with tomato sauce! 
  8. Gelato: It’s everywhere. I’ve been to Italy, it’s incredible tasting, and you’ll love it! Just make sure to only get gelato that doesn’t have that fancy whipped-up look. Those are made with fillers so that they can look more appealing to tourists.
  9. Ossobuco: A bone-in veal shank, it’s a famous dish in Italy. Also, it’s been slow-cooked with wine, veggies, and meat stock, so it’s packed with flavor!
  10. Fiorentina Steak: Also known as Bistecca Fiorentina, it’s a wonderful t-bone steak that’s been cooked for a short amount of time on the outside. 

Food Culture in Italy

A bowl full of the Italian food, carbonara.

If you want to experience the local food culture in Italy, then it’s a great idea to start planning out your trip.

Find a region (or two) that you want to explore, and figure out what their top dishes are that you want to try.

Then you can see how the people in those areas traditionally prepare those meals. Also, you’ll get some insight into how they like to get together, and enjoy their cuisine.

Also, something else that’s important to note, Italy takes their ingredients and specialties very seriously. I mean, there are over 130 specialty foods and traditional dishes, that are made under Italy’s strict DOP regulations.

So in the end, if you’re a foodie who wants to explore Italy’s cuisine, then it’s best to come prepared. They have a lot more to offer than simple pizzas and easy pastas.

It really is good to make sure that you have the best experience possible.

Italian Dishes FAQ

Alright, now that you’ve gone over all the amazing looking Italian foods to try, I think it’d be cool to know the different interesting facts about Italians and their dishes.

1. What Do Italians Eat a Lot Of?

After looking at some answers from Italians talking about their daily meals, here’s what I found:
Breakfast: They will have something quick like a croissant (or some other bread based meal) with jam and a coffee. Very easy!
Lunch: Pasta, or sometimes it might just be leftovers.
Dinner: Meats, fishes, cheese, legumes, and veggies. They make different recipes with these ingredients of course, but it seems to be a common theme.

2. What Did Italy Eat Before Pasta?

I know that it’s kind of hard for us to imagine a time when Italians didn’t eat pasta, but it was definitely the case!
In some of the coastal regions, they would eat plenty of fish and have other fresh ingredients like olives and lemons.
Also, cheeses, goats, leeks, and artichokes were definitely common!

3. Why Do Italians Eat Dinner So Late?

This one is simple! It goes back to the tradition of eating after the heat of the day.
Also, because the work day has two separate parts to it, and there’s a break in between, they don’t get out of work until after 7:30 PM. 


I can’t wait to start knocking off more of these Italian recipes when I go back to Italy, or if I make them from my own kitchen.

They all look so good, and I can only imagine how great these Italian food dishes are going to make my home smell!

And if you try them too, then let me know! I’d love to hear how it went. 🙂

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Chasing Foxes was started in 2016 as a way for Grace and her husband, Silas, to start traveling. However, they started to realize that they had a passion for improving themselves, and wanted to help others level up their lives as well. So whether it's with cooking, travel, or staying healthy, they want to help you better your life bit by bit, as they do the same.

Food Food & Drink Leveling Up Your Cooking

Silas & Grace

Chasing Foxes was started in 2016 as a way for Grace and her husband, Silas, to start traveling. However, they started to realize that they had a passion for improving themselves, and wanted to help others level up their lives as well. So whether it's with cooking, travel, or staying healthy, they want to help you better your life bit by bit, as they do the same.

4 thoughts on “Italian Food: 61 Dishes That Are ACTUALLY Authentic”

  1. I am a lover of Italian food and I am so excited to see this recipe, I have read your recipe carefully, including all the preparation process, thank you very much!


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