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15 Best Dishes To Try In Italy: Classics & Hidden Gems

Planning a trip to Italy? Prepare to immerse yourself in a culinary adventure. Italy isn't just a destination; it's an experience that unfolds on your plate. From the markets of Rome to the trattorias of Tuscany, each region offers its own unique flavors and cooking traditions. This guide will take you through 15 must-try dishes that embody the essence of Italian dining, ensuring your journey is as delicious as it is unforgettable.

Classics You Can't Miss

Pizza Napoletana1. Pizza Napoletana

From the heart of Naples, Pizza Napoletana is a culinary icon, featuring a thin, chewy crust with toppings like San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Every bite encapsulates the simplicity and perfection of Italian flavors.

Pasta Carbonara2. Pasta Carbonara

This Roman masterpiece combines al dente spaghetti with crispy pancetta or guanciale, a rich sauce of egg yolks and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, making it a must-try for anyone visiting Italy.

Risotto alla Milanese3. Risotto alla Milanese

A testament to Lombardy's culinary finesse, this creamy, saffron-infused risotto is a luxurious blend of Arborio rice cooked with butter, onions, and white wine, finished with a generous helping of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Caprese4. Caprese

Experience the vibrant colors and flavors of Italy with this simple yet sublime salad, featuring ripe tomatoes, creamy mozzarella di bufala, fresh basil, and a sprinkle of sea salt drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

Tiramisu5. Tiramisu

End your meal on a high note with Tiramisu, a delectable dessert layering espresso-soaked ladyfingers with a rich mascarpone cream, topped off with a dusting of cocoa powder.

Ossobuco6. Osso buco

A specialty from Lombardy, this dish features succulent veal shanks braised with white wine, broth, and herbs, traditionally served with saffron-infused risotto for a truly harmonious flavor profile.

Ravioli di Ricotta e Spinaci7. Ravioli di Ricotta e Spinaci

Indulge in these tender pasta pockets filled with a creamy blend of ricotta cheese and spinach, typically served with a simple tomato sauce or melted butter and sage.

Saltimbocca alla Romana8. Saltimbocca alla Romana

Savor the exquisite taste of tender veal cutlets wrapped with prosciutto and sage, pan-seared in a buttery white wine sauce—a culinary masterpiece from Rome.

Cannoli9. Cannoli

This iconic Sicilian dessert features crispy pastry shells filled with a sweet and creamy ricotta mixture, often enhanced with vanilla, chocolate chips, or candied fruit.

Bistecca alla Fiorentina10. Bistecca alla Fiorentina

A carnivore's delight, this thick-cut T-bone steak is grilled over high heat, seasoned with salt and pepper, and drizzled with olive oil to create a juicy, flavorful feast.


Uncover Surprising Italian Dishes

Casu Marzu11. Casu Marzu

Not for the faint-hearted, this Sardinian cheese is known for being fermented with live insect larvae, giving it a unique texture and intense flavor.

Panettone12. Panettone

A traditional Christmas sweet bread, panettone is beloved in Italy but might surprise those unfamiliar with its fluffy texture and candied fruits.

Sanguinaccio13. Sanguinaccio

This unusual dessert made from pig's blood, chocolate, and sugar serves as a rich, custard-like pudding that's a testament to Italy's diverse culinary practices.

Bottarga14. Bottarga

Often grated over pasta for an umami kick, bottarga is made from dried and salted roe of mullet or tuna, offering a strong, briny flavor that can be an acquired taste.

Trippa alla Fiorentina15. Trippa alla Fiorentina

A classic Florentine dish, trippa alla Fiorentina features tripe stewed in a savory tomato sauce with onions and herbs, celebrated for its distinctive flavor and texture.


Each of these dishes represents a piece of Italy's gastronomic soul, offering insight into the regional traditions and ingredients that make Italian cuisine beloved worldwide. Whether you're seeking comfort food or culinary adventure, Italy's diverse offerings will not disappoint.

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