Think traditional Italian food, think doughy pizzas, gooey pastas and fragrant sauces. Visiting Italy is that one time you get to leave your diet at home, repeatedly mutter ‘Quando a Roma’ (when in Rome) whilst ordering seconds and an extra glass of prosecco.
Food in Italy is well loved and well known but is very localised. Italian dishes vary from region to region and often its origin is where you’ll find it at its best. Below we’ve put together the 7 best traditional Italian dishes and where to find them on a luxury holiday in Italy.
1. Saltimbocca – Traditional Italian food
Saltimbocca is a dish you can’t eat fast enough. Succulent veal is lined or wrapped with prosciutto and sage then marinated in wine or oil. It varies throughout Italy, with each region having its own recipe. It’s traditional Italian food at it’s best.
Italy food fact: The name Saltimbocca is said to roughly translate to ‘jump in the mouth’ (which is certainly the feeling it gives when eating).
Where to stay in Italy: Known for it’s delicious food as well as its history city breaks to Rome can be a foodies dream. Five star Hotel d’inghilterra is located by the Spanish Steps with easy access to the city’s superb restaurants.
Recipe: No doubt if you try this dish, you’ll want to bring it home with you. You can make it yourself with this traditional recipe.
2. Ribollita – Heartwarming Tuscan soup
Ribollita is a hearty Tuscan soup. Although there are many variations, the dish is traditionally made with cannelloni beans, cabbage, kale and leftover bread.
Italy food facts: Its name literally means ‘reboiled’. Traditionally the soup was made by servants for their own dinners. They would gather up leftover minestrone or vegetable soup and reheat it to make this delicious dish.
Pair with: As a Tuscan dish it is best paired with a Tuscan red wine such as Montepulciano.
Where to stay in Tuscany: Nestled within the rolling countryside of Tuscany, Hotel Relais Il Falconiere offers cookery courses where you can learn to cook famous Tuscan dishes and learn the art to wine pairing.
3. Osso Bucco alla Milanese – Meat dish full of flavour
For meat lovers this is a real treat. Veal shanks are cross cut and braised with vegetables and a refined white wine broth. Traditionally from Milan, the dish is Italy’s answer to a Sunday lunch. Often served with garlic gremolata adding heaps of flavour with every mouthful. You can make the dish at home with this traditional Italian recipe.
Italy food facts: The name Osso Bucco translates to ‘bone with a hole’, referring to the marrow hole at the centre.
Pair with: Milan’s local wine region, Lombardy, creates wines that match the dish perfectly.
Where to stay: Being traditionally a Milanese dish, the best Osso Bucco can be found in the heart of the city of Milan.
4. Margherita da Napoli – Classic Italian dish
It goes without saying the best pizza’s are Italian pizzas, and the best Italian pizza’s are from Naples. Thin homemade crust baked to perfection and homemade tomato sauce recipes passed down through families. There’s no need for extravagant toppings as the delight of a simple Neapolitan Margherita is unforgettable.
Italy food fact: Originally made by poor families, Queen Margherita first tasted the delicious treat in 1889, who liked it so much she introduced it to aristocracy.
Where to find the best pizza: You’ll be spoilt for choice for pizzerias in Italy, see here some of the best pizzerias in Italy.
5. Focaccia di Recco – Italian cheese toastie
Facaccia di Recco is Italy’s answer to a cheese toastie, and they have certainly taken it to a whole new level. Thin sheets of fresh baked foacaccia are filled with a creamy layer of Cresenza cheese. It’s decadent comfort food that you’ll definately want more of.
Italy food fact: Originating from the Liguria region, it takes its name from the town of Recco.
Pair with: Imagine looking out to the Mediterranean sea with a refreshing aperol spritz and a helping of Focaccia di Recco to share… perfetto!
Where to stay in Liguria: Of all the towns in Liguria, Porotfino has to be the most beautiful. The harbour town has a luxury port with divine restaurants. The Belmond Hotel Splendido is a world famous luxury hotel offering some of Italy’s finest cuisine.
6. Pasta con le Sarde – A Sicilian specialty
A very comforting Sicilian dish made with sardines, anchovies, fennel, raisins, pine nuts and toasted breadcrumbs stirred through spaghetti. The seafood gives it a distinct Mediterranean flavour and the addition of raisins and pine nuts give it an Arabic twist reflecting Sicily’s heritage.
Italy food fact: Wild fennel is plentiful in Sicily which adds a real fragrance to the dish which makes it unique to Sicily.
Pair with: Its salty flavours are best matched with a crisp, dry white wine. Cataratto Bianco D’alcamo is an exquisite wine produced in Sicily complementing the dish.
Where to stay: For those in search of a luxury holiday to Sicily, the coastal town of Taormina is a fashionable and upmarket resort packed with 5 star eateries.
7. Orecchiette alle cime de rapa – Authentic homemade pasta
Cime de rapa (leafy brocolli), anchovies, onions, garlic and chile are stirred with Orechiette pasta to make this authentic Italian dish. It’s the most famous dish of the Puglia region (Italy’s boot).
Italy food fact: Orechiette is a homemade pasta known for its distinct ear shape.
Pair with: Slightly salty the dish is best served with a crisp white wine. Conti Zecca Cantalupi is an exquisite chardonnay produced in the local wine region.
Where to stay: To make your very own Pugliese food, the family run hotel Masseria Montenapoleone offers cooking classes where you can make your own Orecchiette.
Have you tried any of these Italian dishes or have a favourite Italian recipe? Tell us in the comments below.
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