16 Best Foods to Eat in Italy
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What exactly are the best foods to eat in Italy? Well, you’re in luck; we are sharing some of the top can’t-miss Italian foods for your next holiday.
After spending time exploring Italy, we’ve come up with this list of the foods that we truly enjoyed most so that you can make sure they are on your foodie bucket list. From tiramisu to carbonara, we’ve got you covered.
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!
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! This is easily one of the best foods to eat in Italy.
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 of Boston, and I was always disappointed!
That’s why I knew that when I visited Italy, I definitely just had to try the real deal finally. Let me just say I wasn’t disappointed. You 100% need to try this! It’s available at most cafes.
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Ah, Pizza. This list would not be complete without it. Though America has truly 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, specifically!
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 it’s 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 differently.
If you want to make a meal at home, be sure to check out this post on the best Italian pasta brands!
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!
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.
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 that you will never want to stop eating it.
While there are so many different flavors you can try, some of my favorites were tiramisu, Nutella, chocolate, and dulce de leche.
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 you. The egg and cheese together create a creamy coating that pairs perfectly with the crispy strips of pork. Add a little bit of freshly grated cheese on top, and you have the perfect dinner.
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.
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!
Spaghetti & Meatballs
Spaghetti and meatballs are 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 and is one of the best foods to eat in Italy.
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!
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 it 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 tourist destinations in each city or town.
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 arancini when I go, which is essentially just a fried rice ball filled with cheese, meat, and veggies. Believe it or not, it’s also one of the best foods to eat in Italy.
One thing to keep in mind is that arancini in the United States tend to be served with tomato sauce commonly. 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 euros and was even better than the ones that I’ve had in the United States.
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!
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. This is one of the best foods to eat in Italy.
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!
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 at 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.
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!
Now you know all of the best foods to eat in Italy!
More Italy Posts
A trip to Italy is truly unforgettable! We have tons more Italy posts to help you plan your trip. Check them out below!
- 9 Cinque Terre Beaches You’ll Want to Know About
- 10 Best Gardens in Rome
- 9 Best Walking Tours of Venice Italy
- Venice Instagram Spots: 15 Best Places to Take a Picture in Venice, Italy
- 13 Free Things To Do In Venice, Italy
- 12 Free Things To Do in Rome
- What To Do In Florence, Italy
- 13 Incredible Free Things to do in Milan, Italy
- 14 Most Beautiful Cities in Italy
I must say that all these dishes are mouth-watering, pesto being my favorite.
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!
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!!
Ah you’re making me hungry! I love Italian food so much and cannot wait to revisit Italy and savor more delicious dishes. 🙂
Soooo very hungry! Live the food im Italy and you covered my favorite- gnocchi! Great post, thanks for posting ?
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!