If you want real Italian food, then you need to go to the source. Read here to learn about the authentic Italian foods you should try in Italy.

Everyone thinks that they know Italian food. Pizza, spaghetti, tiramisu. But did you know that cuisine in Italy is very localized? Different cities and regions of the country have their specialties. And the pizza and pasta you get in Italy are very different than our American versions of the dishes. No trip to Italy would be complete without fully immersing yourself in Italian culture and cuisine. Keep reading for 10 authentic Italian foods to try in Italy.

Italian Foods to Put on Your Food Bucket List

The bad news is that you’ll never be able to sample all of the delicious foods that Italy has to offer on one trip. The good news is that this just means you’ll have to make a return trip! From caponata in Sicily at the southern tip of the country to polenta in northern cities like Milan and Venice, your taste buds will thank you for trying these foods.

1. Pizza

Italian Pizza in Italy - AssistAnt TravelItalian Foods In Italy – AssistAnt TravelNo trip to Italy would be complete without at least one meal of pizza. It is the birthplace of the dish, after all. Whether you pick Neapolitan pizza, with a thick fluffy crust, or Roman pizza, which is thin and has a little bit of a crunch, you won’t be disappointed. Unlike pizza in the US, you shouldn’t load up your pizza with toppings in Italy. Try for as few ingredients as possible and enjoy the flavors from the high-quality cheese and sauce. If you travel around Italy, try pizza from all the different regions you visit!

2. Ossobuco

Ossobucco, which translates to “hollow bone”, is one of Milan’s most famous dishes. It is a bone-in veal shank that cooks low and slow in a broth of meat stock, white wine, and vegetables. Ossobucco takes about 3 hours to cook, so if you see it on a restaurant menu, take the opportunity to order it.

3. Polenta

Ossobucco is usually served with a side of polenta, which is a corn mush similar to grits. Polenta is a great side for meat and is true Italian comfort food. Polenta is commonly eaten in the northern parts of Italy, where temperatures tend to get a little colder than in southern Italy.

4. Caponata

Enjoy caponata in Sicily as a side dish, salad, or as a relish for pizza, a sandwich, or pasta. Caponata consists of eggplant, onions, tomatoes, anchovies, olives, pine nuts, capers, and vinegar. It’s all cooked in olive oil and often contains something sweet, like raisins or a pinch of sugar, and is then served at room temperature.

5. Risotto

The Italians love their starches, like pasta and polenta. Rice isn’t as popular, but when Italians eat it, it’s usually rich, creamy risotto. To make risotto, you mix rice with stock and then stir until the rice forms a semi-soup that is rich and hearty. You can add many things to risotto, like fish, pancetta, or saffron.

6. Ribollita

Robollita is a hearty soup that was created by peasants in the Tuscan region of Italy. When they couldn’t afford meat, they used bread to thicken the vegetable soup. There are lots of variations of ribollita, but the main ingredients usually include leftover bread, cannellini beans, kale, cabbage, and cheap vegetables, like carrots, beans, chard, celery, potatoes, and onions.

7. Bistecca Fiorentina

A bistecca Fiorentina, which is a Florentine T-bone steak, is a thick-cut steak from the loin of a Chianina cow raised in Tuscany. It’s served extremely rare and ordering it medium-well is a futile effort since the cut is so thick. This dish is huge and is priced by weight. Plan to share it with a friend (or two!) or wear your adjustable waist pants and take it on by yourself!

8. Tartufo Nero

Black truffles, or Tartufo Nero, can be used to flavor risotto, omelets, pasta, and other dishes. Truffles are grown commonly in the Umbria region, Tuscany, and Piedmont. Truffles are one of the most elusive and expensive foods in the world. Italy is one of the few places where they grow in abundance. It’s so elusive, dogs or pigs trained to smell them underground are used to hunt them down. There’s also a white truffle which is even rarer than black truffles. Check out Umbria, Tuscany, or Piedmont in the autumn to enjoy fresh truffles.

9. Gelato

Italian Foods Gelato - AssistAnt TravelWe would be remiss if we didn’t round out this list with dessert! You can’t go to Italy and not order gelato. Although gelato translates to ice cream, it’s not the same thing. By Italian law, gelato must have 3.5% butterfat, which is much less than ice cream. The lower fat content means that it melts a bit faster and has a more velvety texture than ice cream. Gelato has a much higher density than ice cream too, making it very sweet and flavorful. The best gelato is made with fresh, in-season fruit.

10. Tiramisu

Deciding between gelato and tiramisu will be a tough decision, so be sure to sample both. Tiramisu has alternating layers of soft, sweetened mascarpone cheese and coffee-soaked ladyfingers. The best tiramisu is made with high-quality coffee and mascarpone.

Start Planning Your Next Trip!

You need these Italian foods in your life, so don’t wait to start planning your Italian adventure. We can help you with tours, transportation, and concierge service. Check out what we have to offer and let us help you make your next trip one to remember!

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