Everyone will be familiar with the popular Italian cuisine – pasta and pizza – but if you are visiting this beautiful country you should be aware that there is a rich variety of local cuisine to be discovered in the restaurants and cafes of the towns and cities. We have singled out five delicious Italian dishes that you really must try when visiting Italy, and we believe they may amaze you with their diversity
Bistecca all Fiorentina – what better way to start than with Florentine Steak, a deceptively delicious yet simple steak dish originating in Tuscany. Bear in mind this is a full size steak, weighing one kilo or more and some restaurants will charge by the weight, often indicate by “Etto” which means in 100 grams increments. Cooked on a wood fire or “alla griglia” and seasoned only with sea salt, the luscious juicy steak is usually served primarily on its own, and makes for a quite spectacular dish that steak lovers will relish. You should never ask to be “well done” as it is only served “rare”. If you are in Florence one of the best places to eat this dish is La Spada.
Tortelloni Burro e Salvia – a traditional ricotta and green leaf vegetable stuffed pasta dish, this is butter and sage tortelloni, and is typical of pasta dishes in being simple and yet delectable. The rich taste of the butter and sage sauce combined with the soft texture of the tortelloni makes for an excellent lunch; picture yourself in a pretty town square eating this at a traditional trattoria, and you have a picture of Italy you can’t ignore. Tortelloni are typical in Bologna and you should try them at Anna Maria.
Tortellini in Brodo di Cappone – Tortellini are small egg pasta parcels stuffed with pork and cheese. Then cooked in the capon broth which is fattened up rooster traditionally used in dishes in Emilia Romagna cuisine, makes for a quite spectacular meal in this fine traditional dish. The rich broth is a beautiful contrast to the meat stuffed egg pasta, and the result is a rustic style meal that you simply must try in one of the many fine osteria across the country. Don’t forget to ask for the recipe so you can make it when you get back home! The origin of the dish is contended between the cities of Bologna and Modena. If you happen to be there you can try the caffe concerto in Modena.
Orecchiette con le cime di rapa – Another of the many dishes that grew from peasant traditions, this is a simple yet very tasty pasta dish utilising orecchiette pasta (literally little ears) and turnip tops. Depending on where you are you will find local variations including the use of anchovies, the inevitable garlic, sometimes shallots and many other details, but the basic flavour of the pasta and the turnips is simply unbeatable. Typical of the south of Italy you can enjoy orecchiette the picturesque village of Alberobello. Try La Perla dei trulli.
Zuppa Inglese – we couldn’t leave without recommending a dessert, despite the translation – English Soup! – this really is a quite delicious pudding that may be somewhat familiar. It has its roots in the traditional English trifle, enhanced by local ingredients that give it its own unique flavours, and is truly spectacular and enjoyable.
There are few countries in which cuisine plays as important a part in the culture as Italy, and it is displayed perfectly in the above dishes. You will likely have sampled Italian meals at home, but we can assure you there is no comparison between those and the home cooked version, no matter how authentic it may have been. You simply can’t go to Italy and not sample their amazing food, so make sure you take the time to seek out the above examples, and the many other fine dishes you will find available.