16 Best Italian Dishes and Foods: Try Italian Cuisine

This is a list of  16 Best Italian Dishes and Foods: Italian cuisine has developed through centuries of social and political changes, with roots as far back as the 4th century BC. Italian cuisine has its origins in Etruscan, ancient Greek, and ancient Roman cuisines. Significant changes occurred with the discovery of the New World and the introduction of potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers and maize, now central to the cuisine but not introduced in quantity until the 18th century. The cuisine of Italy is noted for its regional diversity, abundance of difference in taste, and is known to be one of the most popular in the world, with influences abroad.

Pizza and spaghetti, both associated with the Neapolitan traditions of cookery, are especially popular abroad, but the varying geographical conditions of the twenty regions of Italy, together with the strength of local traditions, afford a wide range of dishes.

1- Acquacotta

Acquacotta is a hot broth-based bread soup in Italian cuisine that was originally a peasant food. Its preparation and consumption dates back to ancient history, and it originated in the coastal area known as the Maremma in southern Tuscany and northern Lazio. The dish was invented in part as a means to make hardened, stale bread edible. In contemporary times, ingredients can vary, and additional ingredients are sometimes used. Variations of the dish include aquacotta con funghi and aquacotta con peperoni.

2- Agliata

Agliata is a savory and pungent garlic sauce and condiment in Italian cuisine used to flavor and accompany grilled or boiled meats, fish and vegetables. It is first attested in Ancient Rome, and it remains part of the cuisine of Liguria. Porrata is a similar sauce prepared with leeks in place of garlic.

Agliata is prepared with crushed garlic, olive oil, bread crumbs, vinegar, salt and pepper. The bread crumbs are soaked in vinegar, which is then squeezed out, after which the garlic is whisked or beaten into the mixture. Its preparation includes the emulsion of the ingredients to prevent separation, which is performed by the olive oil being added in a slow drizzle while the mixture is constantly whisked. It generally accompanies grilled or boiled meat, fish and vegetables.

3- Agrodolce

Agrodolce is a traditional sweet and sour sauce in Italian cuisine. Its name comes from "agro" (sour) and "dolce" (sweet). Agrodolce is made by reducing sour and sweet elements, traditionally vinegar and sugar. Sometimes, additional flavorings are added, such as wine, fruit, or even chocolate. It can be used for lamb, and served over rigatoni or wide noodles, such as pappardelle.

Though the term "aigre-doux" could refer to any sweet and sour sauce in French cuisine, a gastrique is very similar to agrodolce.

4- Bagna càuda
Bagna càuda

Bagna càuda is a hot dish made from garlic and anchovies, originating in Piedmont, Italy during the 16th century. The dish is served and consumed in a manner similar to fondue, sometimes as an appetizer, with raw or cooked vegetables typically used to dip into it.


About 1 pound cooked tender beef steak such as top sirloin; cooked boned, skinned chicken breast; and/or cooked, peeled, and deveined shrimp (31 to 40 per lb.) 6 cups bite-size pieces zucchini, mushrooms, red bell peppers, fresh fennel, and/or drained canned artichoke hearts (choose 3 or 4) 1 baguette (8 oz.), thinly sliced 1/2 cup butter 1 cup olive oil 1/4 cup minced garlic 1 can (2 oz.) anchovies, drained and finely chopped

How to Make It

Step 1
Cut steak and chicken across the grain into strips about 1/4 inch thick and about 3 inches long. Arrange meat on a platter.

Step 2
Place vegetables and bread in baskets or dishes.

Step 3
In a 1- to 1 1/2-quart pan or metal fondue pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add oil, garlic, and anchovies; stir until mixture bubbles. Set pan over a candle or a medium-low alcohol or cannedheat flame. Watch mixture and stir often so garlic doesn't burn; adjust heat as needed.

Step 4
Use forks or long skewers to spear chicken, beef, shrimp, or vegetables, and swirl through butter mixture to coat; leave in longer to heat slightly, if desired. Transfer food to individual plates or a slice of baguette to eat. Stir butter mixture occasionally with food on fork.

5- Cioppino

Cioppino is a fish stew originating in San Francisco, California. It is an Italian-American dish and is related to various regional fish soups and stews of Italian cuisine.

Cioppino is traditionally made from the catch of the day, which in San Francisco is typically a combination of Dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels and fish, all sourced from salt-water ocean, in this case the Pacific. The seafood is then combined with fresh tomatoes in a wine sauce.

The dish can be served with toasted bread, either local sourdough or French bread. The bread acts as a starch, similar to a pasta, and is dipped into the sauce.

6- Garmugia

Garmugia, also referred to as gramugia, is a soup in Italian cuisine that originated in Lucca, Tuscany, central Italy. The soup's use in the cuisine of Lucca dates back to the 17th century. Garmugia has been described as being "a hearty soup" and one that's "unknown outside of the province" in Italy.


Primary ingredients include chicken or vegetable stock or broth, asparagus, artichoke hearts, fava beans, peas, onion and meats, such as pancetta and veal. Carrot, celery and beet leaves may also be used. 

The pancetta and veal may be used in relatively small portions, to add flavor to the soup. Some versions may be prepared using lean ground beef, beefsteak or sausage, and some may include cheese such as Parmesan or Pecorino. Seasonings may include salt and pepper. It may be served poured atop toasted bread or croutons.


Garmugia may be prepared seasonally, when its primary vegetable ingredients are harvested in the spring. The soup may be cooked in an earthenware vessel. Total cooking times can vary between approximately 30 minutes to over 2 hours.

7- Ginestrata

Ginestrata is a soup in Italian cuisine that originated in Tuscany, Northern Italy that can be described as a thin, lightly spiced egg-based soup. Egg yolks, chicken stock, Marsala wine or white wine, butter, nutmeg and sugar are primary ingredients. Additional ingredients may include different types of wine, such as Madeira wine, and cinnamon. It may also be served as an antipasto dish, the first course of a formal Italian meal.

Ginestrata may be strained using a sieve. It may be prepared using a double boiler for cooking, and the nutmeg and sugar may be served atop it as a garnish. It may also be cooked in an earthenware pot. It's a thin soup that only slightly thickens when the cooking process is complete.

8- Maccu

Maccu, (also known as maccu di fave, and sometimes referred to as macco, is a Sicilian soup and also a foodstuff that is prepared with dried and crushed fava beans (also known as broad beans) and fennel as primary ingredients. Several dishes exist using maccu as a foodstuff, such as Bruschetta al maccú and Maccu di San Giuseppe, the latter of which may be served on Saint Joseph's Day in Sicily.

Ingredients and preparation

Primary ingredients include fava beans, fennel seeds and sprigs, olive oil, salt and pepper. Additional ingredients may include tomato, onion and pasta. The soup is sometimes cooled until it solidifies, then cut into strips, breaded in flour and fried in olive oil. Some preparations of maccu may use fava beans that have been puréed.

9- Marinara sauce
Marinara sauce

Marinara sauce is a tomato sauce, usually made with tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and onions. Its many variations can include the addition of capers, olives, spices, and a dash of wine.

This sauce is widely used in Italian-American cuisine, which has diverged from its Old World origins.

In Italy, alla marinara properly refers to a sauce made with tomatoes, basil, oregano and sometimes olives, capers and salted anchovies; it is used for spaghetti and vermicelli, but also with meat or fish.

This is not to be confused with spaghetti marinara, a popular dish in Australia, New Zealand, Spain and South Africa, in which a tomato-based sauce is mixed with fresh seafood. In Italy, a pasta sauce including seafood is more commonly called alla pescatora.

10- Minestra di ceci
Minestra di ceci

Minestra di ceci (chickpea soup) is a soup in Italian cuisine prepared with chickpeas as a primary ingredient. Dried chickpeas that have been soaked or canned chickpeas may be used. Additional ingredients can vary, and may include foods such as salt cod, chestnuts, artichoke, potato, tomato, pasta and cabbage, among others. Soup base ingredients may include olive oil, garlic, onion, carrot and celery, among others.

11- Ciabatta

Ciabatta is an Italian white bread made from wheat flour, water, olive oil, salt, and yeast, created in 1982 by a baker in Verona, Veneto, Italy, in response to the popularity of French baguettes. Ciabatta is somewhat elongated, broad, and flat, and is baked in many variations.

While panino indicates any kind of sandwich regardless of the bread used (whether slices or a bun), a toasted sandwich made from small loaves of ciabatta is known incorrectly as panini (mistakenly used plural form of panino) outside Italy.

12- Colomba di Pasqua
Colomba di Pasqua

Colomba pasquale ("Easter Dove" in English) is an Italian traditional Easter cake, the counterpart of the two well-known Italian Christmas desserts, panettone and pandoro.

The dough for the colomba is made in a similar manner to panettone, with flour, eggs, sugar, natural yeast and butter; unlike panettone, it usually contains candied peel and no raisins. The dough is then fashioned into a dove shape (colomba in Italian) and finally is topped with pearl sugar and almonds before being baked. Some manufacturers produce other versions including a popular bread topped with chocolate.

The colomba was commercialised by the Milanese baker and businessman Angelo Motta as an Easter version of the Christmas speciality panettone that Motta foods were producing.

13- Coppia ferrarese
Coppia ferrarese

Coppia ferrarese is a type of sourdough bread made with flour, lard, malt, and olive oil, and has a twisted shape.

It was first made around the 12th century in Ferrara, Italy. It has PGI status under European Law, which was obtained in 2001.

14- Cornetto pastry
 Cornetto pastry

A cornetto is an Italian variation of the Austrian kipferl and the French croissant. It differs from a croissant in being softer and containing less butter.

The main ingredients of a cornetto are pastry dough, eggs, butter, water and sugar. Egg yolk is brushed on the surface of the cornetto to obtain a golden color during baking.

The cornetto vuoto (Italian: "empty cornetto") is commonly accompanied by various fillings, including crema pasticcera (custard), apricot jam or chocolate cream, and covered with powdered sugar or ground nuts. A cornetto with an espresso or cappuccino at a coffee bar is considered to be the most common breakfast in Italy.

15- Carbonara

Carbonara is an Italian pasta dish from Rome made with egg, hard cheese, guanciale (or pancetta), and black pepper. The dish arrived at its modern form, with its current name, in the middle of the 20th century.

The cheese is usually Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano-Reggiano, or a combination of the two. Spaghetti is the most common pasta, but fettuccine, rigatoni, linguine, or bucatini are also used. Either guanciale or pancetta can be used for the meat component, but lardons of smoked bacon are a common substitute outside Italy.

The pasta is cooked in moderately salted boiling water. The guanciale is briefly fried in a pan in its own fat. A mixture of raw eggs (or yolks), grated Pecorino (or a mixture with Parmesan), and a good amount of ground black pepper is combined with the hot pasta either in the pasta pot or in a serving dish, but away from direct heat, to avoid curdling the egg. 

The fried guanciale is then added, and the mixture is tossed, creating a rich, creamy sauce with bits of meat spread throughout. Although various shapes of pasta can be used, the raw egg can only cook properly with a shape that has a sufficiently large ratio of surface area to volume, such as the long, thin types fettucine, linguine, or spaghetti.

Guanciale is the most commonly used meat for the dish in Italy, but pancetta and smoked pancetta affumicata are also used, and in English-speaking countries, bacon is often used as a substitute. The usual cheese is Pecorino Romano; occasionally Parmesan. Recipes differ as to how eggs are used—some use the whole egg, some others only the yolk, and still others a mixture.

16- Caponata

Caponata is a Sicilian eggplant (aubergine) dish consisting of a cooked vegetable salad made from chopped fried eggplant and celery seasoned with sweetened vinegar, with capers in a sweet and sour sauce.

Numerous local variations of the ingredients exist with some versions adding olives, carrots and green bell peppers, and others adding potatoes, or pine nuts and raisins.

There is a Palermo version that adds octopus, and an aristocratic Sicilian recipe includes lobster and swordfish garnished with wild asparagus, grated dried tuna roe and shrimp. However, these last examples are exceptions to the general rule of a sweet and sour cooked vegetable stew or salad.

Today, caponata is typically used as a side dish for fish dishes and sometimes as an appetizer, but since the 18th century it has also been used as a main course.

A similar Neapolitan dish is called cianfotta. The dish is also popular in Tunisian cuisine.


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