Foods you must have when visiting Italy

Italy is well known for it’s celebrated cuisine and my most recent trip to Italy validated my past experiences with foods you must have when visiting Italy. Instead of describing each dish for you, below are pictures of amazing dishes I recommend you try.

Pasta

This may seem like a common thought but until you have tried it, it is simply undescribable.  The quality of the pasta is unimaginable. The excellent balance of sauce and other ingredients against the noodle is spot on. The pasta is served artfully which directly impacts the ambience and presentation.

Pizza

I’ve had my fair share of pizza in my life time but the variety, flavors and methods of preparation were truly spectacular.  A few items to note:

  • Don’t expect the pizza to be pre-cut into slices.
  • Use a fork and knife to either cut slices of simply eat it in bites.
  • Expect an almost cracker thin crust.

Panini’s and Croquettes

Panini’s and Croquettes are abound and are a great snack for lunch or dinner if you are hungry but have already had a heavy meal that day.  The varieties of both are endless but my favorites were the Risotto Croquettes and Spaghetti-filled (yes, spaghetti!) Croquettes.  They are a must have!

Gelato

Gelato can be found everywhere in Italy. But, beware, they are not all equal. Find a Gelato parlor favored by locals and stick to it. The flavors are endless and each one has its own personality.  Two helpful hints to identify a good Gelato are:

  • Stay away from the pretty, puffy gelato. The fluffiness comes from artificial thickeners and those huge mounds mean that they’re making lots of gelato in advance and reusing the leftovers to make new batches.
  • Gelato should not be too bright. The “high-octane” colors mean lots of chemicals were used in the process.

Cheese

Cheese in Italy is like wine.  Take your time and enjoy each bite.  If your server recommends a cheese platter or a specific cheese with your main dish choice, simply go with it.  You will not be led astray.

If you want to buy cheese for an appetizer or snack later in the day, you can go to any grocery store and you will see that cheese and wine varieties are abundant so ask away and they will help you too pair your options.

 

Wine

There is so many varieties of wines and different palates that it is almost impossible to pinpoint recommendations. I suggest you ask your server for the best pairing of wine based on what you like to order and the availability. You will not go wrong… I promise!

Beer

I was very impressed with the Italian draft and bottled beer choices. Peroni and Nastro Azzurro are hands down the most abundant at restaurants and supermarkets.

Limoncello

There isn’t a better way to finish an amazing Italian meal than to enjoy a “digestivo” – a class of drink that is enjoyed after a big meal with the aim of settling the stomach and helping you feel not-quite-so-full. Limoncello is one of the most popular in Italy and I highly recommend you try it. Even if you’re not so inclined, give it a sip.

Coffee

Ahhh, coffee in Italy.  A coffee lover could not ask for anything better than a great cup of coffee in Italy.  Granted, there are dozens of options to choose from so do your research or simply ask your server.

Example: A Latte is not what you would get in Starbucks but rather a warm cup of milk.

Bottomline

There is so much deliciousness to try and so little time. Therefore, strategize your meals so you can try a bit of everything while on your trip. If you’re traveling with companions, each of you can order something different and share it so you can all have a taste of the different dishes.

Lastly and most importantly; don’t be shy to ask questions about the menu, eat where Italians do, and mingle with locals. I promise it will enhance your experience. Buon appetito!!