It isn’t rocket science to assess why so many travelers continue to choose Italy for their vacation destination year after year. Along with the stunning art and scenery Italy is among the top countries in the world at cooking food. Thinking about the cafes, pizzerias and pasticcerias alone is enough to book a ticket to Italy. In this article we take a look at ten must try delights. We chose a diversity theme; it isn’t just about Nutella-filled desserts. We’ll also include meat dishes, pastas, pizzas and of course desserts every traveler needs to make a priority. We’ll also include everything in between. Make sure you cross these items off the list when headed to Italy. We will also include some of the places to get these pleasantries at.
On the flip side we’ll discuss the unthinkable and that’s foods to avoid. Now let’s be clear there isn’t anything wrong with the following 10 foods and in fact, most tourists opt for them nonetheless. Instead we point out that the not-so-rarity of these options make them less desirable options. We also discuss the fact that you might be better off asking a Nonna to make some of these dishes as opposed to a local restaurant at an Italian hub.
Enjoy the article folks and like always be sure to share it with a friend. Let us know which foods every traveler needs to try via our Facebook page. Without further ado let’s dig in and discuss the 10 foods every traveler needs to try when visiting Italy along with the 10 you can skip!
20 Must Try - Nutella-Filled Bomboloni
Even if you have a salty palate, don’t you dare leave Italy without trying a delicious Nutella-Filled Bomboloni. You can find this dessert almost anywhere in the Rome tourism hot spots. Cafes, bars and restaurants usually carry the stunning dessert. This tends to be a dream for travelers. It doesn’t get better than enjoying this Nutella dessert while sipping on some coffee and looking around at the beauty Rome has to offer.
If you’re going to make room for a sweet make the Bomboloni among the very top. Make sure to have it hot. Numerous travelers dream of this sweet when heading back to reality.
19 Can Skip - Calamari
Take nothing away from the fine fish you can find in Italy. Italians have a way with cooking fish and that includes calamari. However with so much choice you might be able to pass on the savory antipasto dish. In truth quality Calamari isn't too difficult to find. You can get a solid Calamari dish at various vacation spots in the world.
Due to the rareness of some of the other Italian dishes we would advise that you pass on the meal and instead make way for other antipasto dishes you just can’t find all that easily.
18 Must Try - Suppli
You can pass on Calamari as an antipasto but we wouldn’t advise the same for a fantastic Suppli! You can purchase the deep-fried rice balls at various Pizzerias or cafes. Some travelers get this confused with an Arancini but they aren’t the same. This deep-fried food features Mozzarella, rice, eggs, tomato sauce and bread crumbs. It also has a thicker base than the Arancini.
This food originated in Lazio which is a region in Rome. In terms of the finest Supplis, Rome is among the top destinations once again. Those of Italian decent should also ask their Nonna to cook up a batch!
17 Can Skip - White Italian Pizza
It seems ludicrous to pass on anything served at an Italian restaurant or pizzeria. Just imagine saying no to anything an Italian pizzeria has to offer... Isn’t that like a sin? Maybe in Italy it is. Those that have an Italian Nonna might be well aware of how detrimental the effects can be to turning down food.
Sadly, we might advise that you skip out on a classic piece of white pizza. With so much diversity, do you really want to waste time on a bland white pizza? Granted it still tastes great but given the variety of options you should get away with avoiding the white pizza and that’s especially true due to the greatness of the bread.
16 Must Try - Bistecca alla Fiorentina
More of a meat lover? Not to worry, the Italians have you covered. You can find some terrific veal cuts at various restaurants. However most would agree that the most worth-while piece of meat in Italy is the iconic Bistecca alla Fiorentina. You can find this dish at various upscale restaurants.
We recommend you purchase the dish while enjoying a stay in Florence. The steak usually comes with a hint of spice along with a refreshing lemon on the side. When cooked to perfection the steak melts in one’s mouth. Meat lovers must make this dish a priority.
15 Can Skip - Pizza con Patate
A pizza with fresh potato on it? What is this sorcery? For some this might seem like carbohydrate heaven. However this dish is a reality in Italy and quite the popular one. The pizza features a white base with a fresh hint of rosemary sprinkled on top. If you want to try something different by all means go for it. You can find the pizza just about anywhere in Rome, whether it be restaurants, cafes or pizzerias.
However due to how thick and filling it is we would recommend a slice to try and not an entire pizza. With so many other options we wouldn’t recommend filling up on this Italian delicacy.
14 Must Try – Gelato
When in Rome it is an unofficial rule to always make room for dessert, especially when you are new to the city. Now if you had a big pasta or pizza meal you might want something refreshing instead of a massive dough ball filled with Nutella. If that’s the case, then there isn’t a better option than some fine gelato, whether it be a fruity option or a chocolatey one.
Nothing compares to Italian gelato. It goes down so easy and before you know it you’ll be heading back to the ice cream shop asking for more. If you want something fresh and a gelato-type that’ll allow you to digest, we recommend a nice Granita. This is a signature lemon gelato and one you can pick at for hours.
13 Can Skip – Panettone
North American Italians know a thing or two about Panettone. When Christmas and New Years are in full swing Italians tend to load up on the food. Following the holiday season you don’t want to see the dessert for another year due to the amount of times an Italian sees it. However a little known fact, Italians consider Panettone a sweet type of bread and not a dessert.
Again due to the rarity factor we wouldn’t judge a traveler for skipping out on the sweetened bread. It is easy to find anywhere in the world especially at grocery stores. You can find it in an Italian cafe surely, however we advise you ask for the following dessert instead...
12 Must Try - Cannoli
This is a moment most travelers dream of. You get to Venice, drop all of those heavy bags and luggages. Right after, the first thing you do is head over to a local coffee shop and ask for a stunning Cannoli while getting a cappuccino on the side. And oh, you are to be seated on an outside terrace. For lots of travelers this tends to be the dream visual and we really don’t blame you.
The Sicilian dessert can be found anywhere it Italy. Just don’t settle for the airport or something like that. If you want authenticity head to a local Pasticceria (Pastry shop) when making the purchase.
11 Can Skip - Pasta e Fagioli
Some good old pasta and fazool! Italians have a knack for making such simple ingredients so darn tasty. This soup dish features mini pasta, beans, olive oil, garlic and a little tomato sauce. It’s another dish you can find in most Italian restaurants.
It’s a little heavy in comparison to other soups and that might be a knock on as to why you might opt for something else. In addition, having it cooked by an Italian Nonna truly adds to the authenticity instead of buying it at a restaurant. We would give you the pass if you decided to look past this classic Italian soup.
10 Must Try - Pasta Carbonara
Leaving Italy without having a plate of pasta is illegal. They actually ask you at the border and if you say no, you cannot leave the country. A plate of pasta is then provided....
Okay enough of the nonsense, you get it though. Pasta in Italy is a must. Most tourists love to visit Rome. In terms of their signature pasta dishes it doesn’t get any better than pasta carbonara. This dish comes in a variety of different forms depending on where you go. Some restaurants include a hint of bacon which sizzles on anyone’s taste buds. Add some parmesan and a bit of heat to the dish to top it off. You won’t want to leave the restaurant after the dish completion.
9 Can Skip - Cotoletta Parmigiana
Sure a Cotoletta might taste different in a fine Italian establishment as opposed to a New York restaurant, however we would give a tourist the pass nonetheless. With such a variety of meat options, a sauced up Cotoletta might be an acceptable dish to pass on. Instead something lighter can be a better option.
Perhaps a fresh piece of fish alongside an Arugula salad or a lighter piece of veal as well. The Parmigiana cutlet is another option you can easily find elsewhere. It might be better homemade as well and not at a restaurant.
8 Must Try - Ossobuco
You can skip out on the sauced cutlet but don’t you dare leave Italy without trying an Ossobuco dish at least once. This dish is a Milanese specialty. The meat is of course the true hero with one of the tenderest pieces of veal you’ll ever taste. Some alternatives such as pork also exist, however stick to the veal classic.
The dish is usually served alongside a broth along with various vegetables. Getting this in Milan is your best bet, though it can be just as tasty anywhere else in Italy as well with different twists to the dish.
7 Can Skip - Pizzelle
Nonna, before you whip your shoe at us, hear us out. We would rather you make a fresh batch than a traveler go out and buy some at a local cafe shop or grocery store. In truth, Pizzelles taste best when they are freshly made by an Italian relative. You just won’t get that same taste at a local Italian bar for that matter.
This is another item you can easily find anywhere as well, whether it be at a local grocery store or even the airport. You can snack on it there but it isn’t worth the order at a restaurant or other Italian establishment. But if you’re going to order it at least do it right with some Nutella on top!
6 Must Try - Italian Meatballs
This is a classic Italian dish some would assume can easily make the other side of the list based on how common the meat ball is these days. However those that have tried an Italian meatball know that there is a difference between the frozen one you ate last week and one from a fine Italian restaurant.
Whether it be in a sandwich from a pizzeria or accompanied by a wonderful plate of pasta, there is just something so darn tasty about an authentic Italian meatball. From the meat used to the true hero being the sauce this is a dish you need to take time out for when visiting Italy.
5 Can Skip - Bruschetta
This is another item foodies tend to fantasize about when thinking of a meal in Venice or Rome. A classic Bruschetta can be so refreshing and so light. It is a perfect antipasto delight. However, it is yet another item that is far too easy to find and quite simplistic in truth.
Instead, we recommend a fine Crostino with some lovely olive oil on top. That’ll give you the true Italian experience. You can indulge in the lovely bruschetta once you get back home as a starter plate or even a snack – whatever your heart desires!
4 Must Try - Pecorino
You know what goes great with bruschetta? A lovely piece of cheese on the side. We can’t think of a better and more authentic option than the pecorino cheese. True Italians love this cheese and it remains among the most popular for travelers to try.
If pecorino isn’t for you, not to worry, Italy has some dazzling cheeses worthy of any foodie type. Among some of the other options includes Ricotta, Gorgonzola and Grana Padano, just to name a few. You can enjoy these dish types at a restaurant as a starter or better yet experience the cheese on the balcony of your hotel room on a lovely slice of fresh Italian bread.
3 Can Skip - Burrata
Originated in the south of Italy, Burrata is another cheese travelers can easily fall in love with. With a buttered base this is one of those stunning cheeses that can literally melt in one’s mouth. You don’t even have to chew on the cheese, it truly goes down like butter when you find a top tier piece of Burrata.
The only reason why it falls on this side of the list is due to the fact that it’s a staple in lots of Italian restaurants outside of Italy. Most restaurants import the cheese from Italy giving it that authentic taste. However if you still opt to order the cheese we won’t blame you one bit. Make sure it’s accompanied by a fresh tomato and piece of sizzling bread.
2 Must Try - Margherita Pizza
Leaving Italy without having a piece of pasta is just as bad as leaving without having a slice of pizza. Though due to the amount of pizza available in Italy, we can safely say that a pizza-less trip is an even worse idea.
You’ll be tempted by so many different types, whether it be at a local pizzeria, bakery shop or restaurant. Before anything else you need to try the most authentic piece of pizza and that’s with the classic tomato and cheese toppings. Again whether it be cold at a local bakery shop or at a restaurant, this is a must for any traveler.
1 Can Skip - Torrone
One of the most popular desserts/snacks has to be a piece of torrone. Lots of tourists love to have a piece while indulging on a cup of cappuccino at a local bar. Once again there really isn’t anything wrong with the torrone and it’s an awesome treat.
However you’ll quickly come to realize that finding torrone isn’t a challenge. Whether it be at a supermarket or airport, Italy is littered with the treat. If anything else we recommend you bring a box back home as a souvenir to try. Don’t waste time having it at a cafe, it is just far too common of a delight with rarer options that exist and ones you can’t find everywhere.