August 6, 2020

16 Best Foods to Eat in Italy

Italy is literally food heaven. No matter where you go in Italy, there’s bound to be some of the best food you’ll ever have. Below, find some of the best foods to eat in Italy!

1. Tiramisu

Tiramisu is one of the greatest Italian desserts ever invented. It is essentially a sponge cake that has been covered in coffee. Then, it’s covered in chocolate powder and mascarpone. Sometimes, there’s even whipped cream and chocolate syrup like the one that I had!

If you haven’t had Tiramisu, you’re missing out. I’ve had it numerous times in the United States but was never the biggest fan of it. I didn’t even get it from a cheap place either; I had tried it from some of the best Italian bakeries in the North End in Boston and I was always disappointed!

That’s why I knew that when I visited Italy I definitely just had to finally try the real deal. Let me just say, I wasn’t disappointed. You 100% need to try this!

2. Pizza

Ah, Pizza. This list would not be complete without it. Though America has Americanized this dish, I’m here to tell you that it’s a lot better in Italy.

You can honestly get pizza pretty much anywhere. There are vendors on the streets selling it and sit-down restaurants. You can’t go wrong either way! I personally have tried it both ways, and if you’re in more of a rush, opt to purchase it from one of the places that you can just walk up to.

A lot of times, you can just pay by the ounce. This can add up if you choose the biggest slice that you can see, so be careful! Pizza is one of the best foods to eat in Palermo!

3. Gnocchi

Gnocchi is not the most common pasta dish but it is definitely something you should try while in Italy! It is usually made from potatoes and its a very soft pasta.

Most restaurants will have gnocchi listed somewhere on their menu and they may even have different sauce options to put on top. You can’t go wrong with classic marinara sauce, though.

I tried it with pesto and honestly it was so amazing! The gnocchi in Italy truly just hits different.

4. Bruschetta

You have not had bruschetta until you have had Italian bruschetta. The tomatoes are so fresh, the olive oil adds so much flavor, and if you add cheese on top, it just makes it even better!

You honestly can’t go wrong getting bruschetta anywhere in Italy. I got it as an appetizer at every meal and I was not disappointed once by it. The olive oil on top was really the game changer between this bruschetta and any other one I have had before. This is a can’t miss dish!

5. Pesto

Pesto is a very simple sauce to make and Italians make it RIGHT! Made with garlic, basil, olive oil, and pine nuts this is a perfect sauce option if you’re looking for something a little lighter than meat sauce.

Almost everywhere you go, you will see some sort of pesto pasta on the menu. The biggest difference between pesto in Italy and pesto in America is how oily it is. The Italian pesto has just the right amount of oil so that it tastes amazing and your pasta isn’t drowning in it.

6. Gelato

Oh my gosh, gelato might have been my favorite thing to eat in all of Italy! There is nothing that matches up to Italian gelato.

Literally anywhere you go in Italy, you will find places to get gelato and you should try all of them. Ranging from little stalls with one cooler, to stores with 50+ flavors, there are so many different places you can try gelato. It is the perfect snack on a hot day and it is so creamy and smooth you will never want to stop eating it.

While there are so many different flavors you can try, some of my favorite were tiramisu, nutella, chocolate, and dulce de leche.

7. Carbonara

Carbonara has always been my favorite pasta dish and it was even better in Italy! It’s such a simple dish, but it’s so good.

After a long day of walking around the city, this dish is sure to satisfy. The egg and cheese together create a creamy coating that pairs perfectly with the crispy strips of pork. Add a little bit of fresh grated cheese on top and you have the perfect dinner.

8. Coffee

I have had a lot of coffee throughout my life, but I have never had anything that compares to Italian coffee. No matter the time of day, you cannot go wrong stopping and grabbing a cup at the local cafe.

The milk is so smooth and creamy and the espresso is so fresh. I would recommend trying a cafe latte or cafe macchiato. If you sit down at the cafe and grab a cup you may also get the enjoyment of pouring the espresso into the milk, which is oddly satisfying.

You really can’t go wrong stopping at any cafe that you pass while you are walking around. Plus a lot of them have outdoor seating that is perfect for taking a break and people watching while refueling.

9. Panini

Yes, paninis are Italian! I am a sucker for paninis. In fact, my go-to sandwich order, when it’s on the menu anyway, is a caprese panini. There’s just something about it… it always hits the spot!

I was sure to try a panini while I was in Italy and I absolutely loved it. Be sure to try it in Florence… this is where I had the best paninis during my trip!

The nice thing is that paninis are always rather affordable as well. Plus, they’re a snack that you can just grab and go. You don’t need to sit and eat it, and it’s not even something that takes that long to make. You truly can’t go wrong with one!

10. Spaghetti & Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs is such a basic Italian meal that I almost passed up on ordering it but I am glad that I didn’t! It is a classic but it is definitely worth it.

These were some of the biggest meatballs I have ever had in my life but they were so good. The pasta and the sauces in Italy are the best and the meatballs just make it even better!

You can pretty much get this dish on almost any menu in Italy. I suggest trying it in an area that isn’t as touristy so that it won’t be as pricey!

11. Lasagna

Lasagna in Italy is truly decadent. My mom’s side of the family is Italian, and we have a pretty great Italian recipe that we use when we make lasagna. It’s one of my favorite dishes, so trying in Italy was something that just had to happen.

I can’t even begin to explain how much I loved the lasagna in Italy. I unfortunately didn’t take a photo of it before I ate it, so I had to use a stock photo, but I can guarantee you that you’ll love it.

This is another dish that is better from more local restaurants than the restaurants you’ll commonly find near the more popular touristy destinations in each city or town.

12. Arancini

I am truly a sucker for Arancini. So, I went to university in Boston, and frequented the North End, which is commonly known as Boston’s own Little Italy. I always get an arancini when I go, which is essentially just a fried rice ball filled with cheese, meat, and veggies.

One thing to keep in mind is that arancini in the United States tends to commonly be served with tomato sauce. This is an Americanized way of serving the dish, and is not how it will be served in Italy!

I tried my arancini in a small walk-in mom and pop restaurant in Venice and wasn’t disappointed. It was also fairly cheap! It only cost me about 2 euro and was even better than the ones that I’ve had in the United States.

13. Focaccia Bread

Focaccia bread is a great snack to stop and grab while walking around Italy. It is a flatbread that you can get plain or with countless toppings on almost any street.

I stopped and got focaccia bread as pizza a couple of times while in Italy and it was always the perfect snack. I tried a couple of different types but my favorite was tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese. I even had it for breakfast on one of my last days in Italy!

14. Mozzarella

You can never go wrong with some mozzarella cheese. Whether it was on pizza, focaccia bread, or bruschetta, the mozzarella in Italy was second to none.

Mozzarella was originally made in southern Italy so be sure to try it if you are in the region (but don’t worry, it’s amazing everywhere). You really can’t go wrong getting anything with mozzarella on it.

Although it is not the traditional way to get it, I highly recommend getting bruschetta with mozzarella on top. You won’t be disappointed!

15. Wine

Believe me, there is no shortage of wine in Italy. Wherever you are in Italy, there is bound to be a vineyard somewhere near you.

Some of the most popular wine regions in the country are Tuscany, Prosecco, Sicily, and Trentino. If you are in one of these regions, a tour of the vineyards should be on the top of your list.

Even if you don’t take a tour of one of the vineyards, you should definitely grab a glass when you are out to dinner.

16. Risotto

When I visited Italy, I was consistently told that I had to try risotto. So, it just had to make this dish.

It’s basically just rice that is cooked with broth. Sometimes it has other garnishes and vegetables in it, which only adds to the flavor.

You can purchase risotto at any Italian restaurant. I honestly can’t remember one menu where it wasn’t, except for at the gelato shops!

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  4. I must say that all these dishes are mouth-watering, pesto being my favorite.

  5. Krista says:

    Arancini is one of my favourite things from Italy that we tried. I even made it at home once but it just didn’t taste the same. I agree that Italy is amazing for food – especially in Milan and Naples which is where I’ve been so far!

  6. Melissa says:

    gnocchi, lasagna, gelato…the Italians really do have the best food. And now this post has made me extremely hungry…excellent round-up of Italian food!!

  7. Taylor says:

    Ah you’re making me hungry! I love Italian food so much and cannot wait to revisit Italy and savor more delicious dishes. 🙂

  8. Ann Marks says:

    Soooo very hungry! Live the food im Italy and you covered my favorite- gnocchi! Great post, thanks for posting 😃

  9. Devin Held says:

    This made me so hungry! I visited Italy in 2015. It feels like forever ago but I still remember the tastes of all the food I ate. I miss the amazing pizza and gelato!

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