Risotto is just one of the best traditional Italian dishes
Italian food is one of the most loved cuisines in the world. Who hasn’t heard of spaghetti, pizza, lasagne, risotto or gelato? These are just a few amongst the many Italian dishes out there, but there are so many more. I’ve asked a number of other travellers their favourite Italian dish, so come with us on a gastronomic journey through Italy and discover some of the best Italian dishes.
Please note this post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase I make a small commission for which you will not be charged extra. Read full disclosure here.
Table of Contents
Passatelli is a classic Italian soup dish
First favourite Italian Dish is Passatelli. Passatelli fall under the special category of pasta. The passatelli mass consists of breadcrumbs, parmesan and grated lemon zest. Egg and flour are used to bind all the ingredients, and nutmeg adds a little special flavorful touch to this dish. Then it is pressed through a potato ricer and dropped into a simmering hot clear broth to cook. This dish is also known as passatelli in brodo in Italy, which translates to passtelli in broth, and it is a specialty in Emilia-Romagna. It’s a fantastic dish if you love noodle soups and lemony flavors. Passtelli are also super unique because of the choice of ingredients used to make them. The best part is, that you can use leftover breadcrumbs to make these simple Passatelli from scratch at home. That way you can bring some authentic vibrant Italian flavors to your home on a cold winter day.
Contributed by Helene from Masala Herb
A favourite dish of many the world over – Pizza
Pizza was created in Naples in the 1700s. It was originally made as a cheap food for working-class Italians. Over the years its popularity soared and now it is a national symbol of Italy.
Traditional Italian pizza is made of dough topped with tomato, cheese and basil and baked in a wood-fired oven. The Margarita is the most famous pizza but there are so many different toppings you can put on a pizza – you can even create your own!
What I love most about pizza is that you can personalise it how you wish and you can find it almost anywhere in the world! There are hundreds of variations and you can top your pizza however you choose: with the classic toppings such as meats and vegetables or more unusual toppings such as French fries, curry or even nutella! Nowadays you can get gluten free, vegan, deep dish and thin crust pizzas – the choices are endless as you don’t have to stick to the traditional recipe so you can literally find a pizza for everyone.
Contributed by Catrina from 24 Hours Layover
Sweet nutty flavoured desert
My favourite Italian dish of all time is cannoli. I first fell in love with cannoli during a family trip to Sicily, where the dessert originated. Cannoli dates back to the 10th century when the Arab rulers of Sicily introduced many sugar and nut-based desserts into the cuisine. Food historians are unsure where on the island cannoli originated, but it’s believed that this sweet treat was first eaten in Palermo on the western side of the island. Traditional cannoli consists of a fried pastry dough shell filled with sweet, creamy ricotta. It’s often topped with chopped pistachios, dried fruit or chocolate chips, and powdered sugar. I love the sensation of biting into a fresh cannolo – hearing the crunch of the shell and feeling the creamy center ooze out. The sweet ricotta filling is my favorite part of this dessert – I could eat it by the spoonful! My tip for finding the best cannoli? Go for places that fill the shells to order. Otherwise, the filling softens the shell, making it soggy, and you miss out on the quintessential crunch of a perfect cannoli.
Contributed by Tamar from World by Weekend
Potato based classic Italian dish
Did you know that gnocchi, originating in Northern Italy, has been a traditional Italian pasta since Roman times? Gnocchi derives its name from the Italian word “nocca” which means knuckle. It became a delicacy for Italian peasants as it was an inexpensive dish that was not only easy to prepare but also delicious.
As a pillowy soft pasta, gnocchi has become a favorite for my family. After traveling to Florence, Italy, we discovered we all loved gnocchi; I was determined to learn how to make it at home. Since then, making gnocchi with my girls has become a tradition for us to work on together on Christmas day.
I began making gnocchi using boiled Idaho potatoes, but found quite by accident that Yukon Gold potatoes make a much tastier and fluffier pasta. We top the gnocchi with a hearty bolognese sauce, meatballs and a sprinkling of parmesan. Having gnocchi is a non-traditional but perfect way for my family to enjoy a little bit of Italy AND Christmas dinner together.
Contributed by Jolayne from simplyjolayne
Perfectly cooked beef with vegetables
Florentine Steak or Bistecca alla Fiorentina in Italian, is one of my favourite Italian dishes. Legend has it that the origins of this famous steak date back to the 15th century during a feast of Saint Lawrence celebration by the House of Medici.
Today you can find Bistecca alla Fiorentina throughout Florence and the surrounding area. For meat eaters, this traditional Tuscan food is the bomb. The first time I had it, I was blown away by the enormity of our porterhouse steak. Although my husband and I shared it, we had enough for leftovers. This made us both happy because it was the best steak we ever had.
The recipe consists of just six ingredients. The key to a perfect Florentine Steak is in the quality of the ingredients and the preparation method. The porterhouse should weigh at least 3 pounds and be at least 3 inches thick. The steak is simply prepared over an open flame and is brushed with herbs and olive oil. With the right finesse, the meat is cooked rare and will have the delicate flavors of the region.
Contributed by Denise from Chef Denise
Tagliatella alla Bolognaise
Large pasta with a bolognaise sauce
“I always judge the best restaurants in Italy with how good their bolognese or Margherita pizza tastes. Both of these are simple dishes by sheer ingredients which makes them both so hard to perfect. For me, bolognese takes the top spots because it’s so incredibly simple but relies on high-quality ingredients, which are incredible tomato sauce, veal (or beef), incredible parmesan, and perfectly done pasta. When you find great bolognese, do you need anything else? No. It’s consistent, flavorful and savory. It can be served any time of the year and be good. Plus, you can have it with any type of noodle. My favorite is tagliatelle but you can easily have it with spaghetti and rigatoni noodles both of which provide a completely different experience with the actual bolognese sauce.”
Contributed by Kyle from viatravelers
Great for after your iIalian meal or just because you want some
One of the great pleasures of visiting Italy is gelato. If you’ve never had gelato, it is essentially an artisanal Italian ice cream. But compared to regular ice cream, it has both less air and less fat. This makes it denser in flavor but also healthier than regular ice cream. You could compare it to sorbet, but unlike sorbet, it does contain some dairy.
This ubiquitous treat was in fact invented in Florence, where an advisor created it for Catherine de Medici, a Florentine who went on to become Queen of France. Of course, today you don’t have to travel to Florence to eat gelato (though doing so won’t hurt!) You can find gelato vendors, or gelaterias, in virtually any city or town of size, and especially around tourist attractions.
Gelaterias tend to have an abundance of flavors on offer. The frozen tubs are often adorned with eye-catching garnish designs made of fresh fruit or other ingredients. You can expect to pay anywhere from 2€ for a small cup or cone to 6€ for larger portions or in tourist destinations. You really can’t go wrong with any flavor, but my personal favorites include nocciola (hazelnut), pistachio, and lemoncello.
Contributed by Nick Kembel from FunWorldFacts
Curry Sausage Risotto – one of those travelling concoctions
Risotto is one of my favourite Italian dishes, mainly because it is so easy to make while travelling and at home, and tastes wonderful. It is a traditional Italian rice dish originating in northern Italy. Made from a variety of riced called Arborio rice, the basic risotto recipe is made with butter, Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley and rice. I use these ingredients as a base as I often add other fresh ingredients like vegetables, mushrooms, chicken or other meats. One of my favourites is a concoction I designed myself: Curry Sausage Risotto. Even though easy to make, it can be a little time consuming because you add hot stock, a ladleful at a time. This allows the rice to cook slowly and absorb the stock making it soft. Stirring regularly helps the rice’s starches release which helps produce a creamy dish. I usually serve the risotto on its own covered with grated Parmesan and cracked pepper.
Contributed by Sharyn from Live Work Play Travel
Trofie al Pesto
Trofie al Pesto
One of the best Italian dishes you must try is trofie al pesto. This twisted homemade pasta is typically paired with pesto sauce, and is a traditional plate from Genoa.
Pesto sauce is made from pine nuts, olive oil, and typically basil. The sauce is thick, and lightly coats the pasta for a super flavorful taste, without it being overbearing.
Trofie is a hand rolled pasta, made with Durum Wheat Semolina flour, water, and some salt. It is elongated and curled, making it look kind of like a ribbon.
Trofie al pesto is one of the most popular pasta dishes in Genoa, but can also be found in many other areas of Italy. It is served as a first plate, and usually is under 10 euros per portion. One of our favorite things to do in Genoa is scouting out local restaurants that serves Trofie al Pesto. Our favorite one is Ristorante Rustichello, located right in the heart of the city.
Contributed by Danielle from Scratch Your Mapa
Classic coffee flavoured Italian desert
Tiramisu is the most famous Italian dessert in Rome, Italy, and around the world. Its origins are unclear. The El Toulà restaurant in Treviso, Veneto, claims paternity. It seems that the chef invented it by creatively trying to use eggnog.
It may also be that it first appeared in Siena in the 17th century at the Medici court to delight the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo the 3rd. Tiramisu has become very popular in Italian homes and restaurants since the 1960s. It is a dessert that must be stored in the refrigerator because it contains mascarpone cheese and a raw egg.
The method of preparing Tiramisu is reminiscent of Lasagna: a layer of Savoiardi-type cookies soaked in cold coffee is alternated with a layer of mascarpone and egg cream until the top of the tray is reached. The last layer is covered with cocoa powder. The result is soft and tasty, sweet but not too sweet. Great for breakfast and as a snack on hot summer afternoons. The bonus is that this cake is really affordable for everyone and very easy to make. Those who do not like coffee can try the “strawberry” version.
Contributed by Lisa from Travel Connect Experience
Spaghetti All Vongole
Clams and Spaghetti – A perfect combination
My favourite Italian meal is by far Spaghetti Alle Vongole (which translates to Spaghetti with Clams) because it has everything that encompasses staple Italian food. Minimal ingredients, quality local produce, special recipe method, and of course pasta!
This dish is a traditional meal that comes from the Campania region of Italy. More specifically created in the city of Naples but loved and cooked all over the region including Salerno, Ischia and Procida islands, Capri, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. Additionally, It is part of the local culture to eat Spaghetti Alle Vongole for dinner on New Years Eve.
The recipe starts with tasty virgin olive oil, al dente spaghetti, garlic, parsley and topped with local clams from the Gulf of Naples. Quite often the meal will come with some of the clam shells empty. This is because the chef has already removed some of the clam meat to mix in with the pasta.
Although Spaghetti Alle Vongole is a simple dish, it is traditional, popular and perfected by making it one of the most beloved and delicious foods in Naples. And why I ate it over five times during my time in Campania, and then recreated it when I got home!
Contributed by Shireen from The Happy Days Travels
Other Classic Italian Dishes to Try
Osso Bucco – a favourite from Milan. Consists of veal shanks cooked slowly in white wine, meat broth, and vegetables.
Lasagna or Lasagne in Italian – One of the world’s oldest pasta recipes is made by alternating layers of pasta sheets, meat, sauce, and cheese.
Ravioli – Small pieces of pasta filled with meat or feta and spinach served in a creamy or tomato sauce.
Panzanella – A staple of Tuscan cuisine, panzanella is a healthy, delicious bread and tomato salad. Created by farmers who relied on locally grown produce to feed themselves while working.
Focaccia – A popular and delicious Italian flatbread. Make great ‘toastie’ by adding plenty of fillings.
Which Italian Dish will you be easting next?
Other World Cuisines to Enjoy
Go ahead, I dare you to find a more satisfying meal than eating a big, juicy and tasty burger! After reading this post, I’m sure you will agree my fellow foodie and travel bloggers have met the challenge head on! There is some controversy over the origin of the...
What go to recipe will I make today on my travels? It's a question I often ask! When you travel, you cannot eat out every meal - though it might sound nice! Apart from being expensive, your health can suffer from over indulging in different foods. This is why...
Fajitas are a favourite Mexican dish, When I think of Mexican food, I think of nachos and tacos - well who doesn’t. But Mexico has many more foods than just my favourites. Here, 6 travel bloggers enlighten us on what their favourite Mexican food is. They take...