Where do you go to taste the Top Ten Italian Dishes?

Explore Italy's delectable culinary diversity

Italian food abroad is often classified as pizza/pasta. But it offers much more. Many people don't realize that Italian food is very regional. Each region has its own character due to the region's history, ancient traditions and the seasonality of the products.

To add variety, these regional differences in cuisine are often influenced by geographic and economic factors such as climate and the presence of ancestors. Looking deeper into the history of Italy, which only became a unified nation in 1861, it is a long and narrow country located by the sea with mountains to the north. It's no wonder such variety leaves its mark on the menu.

It would take a lifetime to travel Italy to taste regional specialties and the best seasonal delicacies of each region. Since stomach space is limited, the endless number of "Italian dishes to try" can cause panic when prioritizing Italian dishes. This is where this guide comes in. In addition to useful tips and traditional Italian eating habits, we enlisted the help of local Italian designers to help you choose the best Italian dishes for your trip. This list may not be exhaustive, but it covers the heart of Italian cuisine and some of the most good culinary experiences of Italy!

Grab a fork and let's jam. The best pasta in Italy

Where do you go to taste the Top Ten Italian Dishes?
Home made pasta in Italy

Northern Italian Food Tours 

7-Day Northern Italy Food and Wine

Top food highlights:

  • Chef-led Piedmontese cooking experience in Alba
  • Private tasting of hand-crafted cheese in the town of Castelmagno

11-Day Relaxed Food and Wine in Northern Italy

Top food highlights:

  • Splendid wine tasting day in the Veneto countryside
  • Private Parma food tour

Emilia Romagna Food Tours

9-Day Food Valley of Emilia Romagna

Top food highlights:

  • Visit a local farm to see how salami is produced with a tasting
  • Tour of the ‘Food Valley of Italy’ to try DOP products

Tuscany Food Tours

9-Day Umbria and Tuscany Foodie Escape

Top food highlights:

  • Tour a local olive oil mill with a tasting
  • Visit a dairy farm in Pienza to learn how to make pecorino cheese

Venice Food Tours

8-Day Italian Foodie Getaway

Top food highlights:

  • Foodie walking tour of Venice with a local guide
  • Guided cicchetti (street food) tasting in Venice

Friuli Venezia Giulia Food Tours 

9-Day Foodie Adventure in Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia

Top food highlights:

  • Exclusive cooking class in a renowned wine estate in Valpolicella with an Italian chef
  • Prosecco tasting in the scenic verdant hills of Valdobbiadene wine country

8-Day Art, Food and Culture of Fruili Venezia Giulia

Top food highlights:

  • Exquisite prosciutto tasting in the charming hilltown of San Daniele del Friuli

Sicily Food Tours

19-Day Most Enchanting Sicily

Top food highlights:

  • Walking food tour of Catania led by a local expert guide
  • Indulge in a rich and delicious tasting of cheeses in southeast Sicily
  • Explore the food markets of Palermo with a local guide

12-Day Sicily Luxury Tour

Top food highlights:

  • Visit a pastry laboratory to learn how to prepare Sicilian cannoli
  • Taste the unique and unforgettable flavours of our traditional Sicilian cuisine in Erice

Traditional Italian Food Customs

Italians are very quiet but very passionate people. This passion extends to the traditions and customs surrounding Italian food. If you don't want to look weird or look like a tourist, we've got you covered!

About the menu

All menus in Italy are divided into categories: antipasti, primi, secundi, contorni, dolchi, coffee and drinks. The antipasti are an interesting part of the meal as you can find a lot of regional variety here and try different dishes. But be aware that they can get stuffed!

In Italy, pasta, soups, gnocchi, spaghetti, risotto and rice dishes such as minestrone are included in the "premier" section of the menu. Unlike Italian restaurants in your country, this dish is not huge as it is not a major part of the meal. However, depending on your appetite, this and a few appetizers might be enough.

The second course (sekondi) is a meat and fish dish. As said, this "plate" is a perfectly cooked piece of meat or fish, with nothing else. The outline part of the menu is as follows. It's a side dish! Potatoes, grilled vegetables, salads, beans and French fries are some of the most popular side dishes. Tip: Order a salad and it's served after the meal. Warm vegetables come with your meal!

Last is dessert (Dolchi) and coffee (cafe). Italian fruits, tiramisu and gelato form the basis of the dessert menu, and tiramisu is the most popular dessert on the national menu. If you order an espresso to finish your meal (very common), it will not come out at the same time as the dessert.

What to do and what not to do in Italy

Do not

  • Eat lunch after 14:00. Almost all restaurants close after 14:00 and reopen for dinner at 19:00. Shops and supermarkets are also closed in the afternoon, so plan your meals in time and don't go hungry!
  • Order a cappuccino or latte after 11pm. Milk coffee is considered breakfast in Italian cuisine, so order it in the afternoon or evening and you'll get an interesting look.
  • Order wine with pizza. Italians only drink beer and soft drinks with pizza, leaving wine for appetizers and food.
  • Ask for chicken or pineapple on your pizza. Bad idea in Italy.
  • Order spaghetti bolognese (or spaghetti meatballs). This dish is not available in Italy. Go to Bologna instead and order the tagliatelle al ragu.


  • Skip the dessert at the restaurant and go to the gelateria for a sweet treat.
  • Avoid restaurants near top tourist attractions because you're paying for the location, not the quality of the food. 
  • Enjoy a coffee at the bar. The bar is open all day and is a popular place to drink alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks and "suck the fat" (chat). But if you sit down, you can pay up to 4x!
  • Olive oil to taste. You've never seen olive oil like this. Visit the farm and enjoy this wonderful day.
  • Try wine tasting. Italy and wine – need we say more?
  • Take a cooking class to learn how to make popular Italian dishes at home. One of Italy's best nutrition is the truffle mushrooms in the Alba Mountains and returns to the farm to save the local specialty!

Where to go and taste the top 10 traditional Italian foods

1. Naples for Pizza

Today, pizza can be found all over the world, but nowhere does it taste better than in Naples, in the Campania region of southern Italy. Whether the Italian staple, pizza or Ragu alla Bolognese – which deserves the title of Italy's national dish is debatable. The latter may win, but there is no Italian food as satisfying as eating an authentic "Pizza Napoletana".

In Italy, toppings are kept simple, bringing out the fresh, rich flavors of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Very patriotic, you'll find that this pizza features the colors of the Italian flag. Authentic Neapolitan pizza, with a thicker crust than in Rome, is an experience in itself. enjoy!

Top tip: Italians rarely share pizza, so order a whole pizza and enjoy!

Where do you go to taste the Top Ten Italian Dishes?
Pizza from Naples

2. Bologna for Ragu Alla Bolognese

If you came to Italy looking for spaghetti bolognese, you probably won't find it because it doesn't actually exist. The closest dish to spaghetti bolognese is ragu alla bolognese, a Bolognese-style tomato-based meat sauce made with carrots, onions, celery, and beef or pork. Despite the pizza push, Ragu alla Bolognese is technically Italy's national dish. To try this dish, head to Bologna in the Emilia-Romagna region, one of Italy's top food and wine destinations. Oh, and you won't see spaghetti here. This dish is only served with tagliatelle. 

3. Milan for Risotto

From one traditional Italian dish to another; Risotto is a delicious creamy dish in which rice is sautéed in a hot pan with oil and onion, then slowly added with a rich broth to cook until the rice is soft and has a similar texture.

Italy has a variety of risotto recipes, including ingredients like fresh seafood and porcini mushrooms, but for the best risotto, head to Milan, Lombardy, in northern Italy. Risotto Milanese made with meat broth, bone marrow, cheese and saffron! *chef's kiss*

Romanian specialties; If you're only going to try one pasta in Italy (which is unlikely), check out the traditional Roman carbonara. It's made with four simple ingredients: guanciale (Italian pork or cheek), eggs, pecorino romano cheese, and pepper. Simple and delicious here, but very difficult to master. Substituting bacon for guanciale and using sour cream to thicken the sauce is considered a travesty. However, you can find these substitutes and carbonara at home. 

4. Rome for carbonara

Roman specialties; If you're only going to try one pasta in Italy (which is unlikely), check out the traditional Roman carbonara. It's made with four simple ingredients: guanciale (Italian pork or cheek), eggs, pecorino romano cheese, and pepper.

Simple and delicious but very difficult to master. Those who use bacon instead of guanciale and cream to thicken the sauce are considered cheaters. But you can also find these substitutes at home in carbonara.

5. Alba (Piedmont) for White truffles

The venerated truffle from the mushroom family grows underground. Truffles require incredibly special conditions to grow and are only found in certain areas at certain times of the year. Truffle connoisseurs scour the countryside for truffles, often accompanied by their trusty dogs, making truffles one of the world's most prized ingredients.

The best place to eat truffles is Alba, in the Piedmont region of Italy. Check out our Italian tours that showcase the best of Italy with a truffle hunting experience and lunch with the new 'white gold' at a local farm!

6. Florence for Bistecca alla Fiorentina

If you want to eat steak in Italy, go to Bistecca alla Fiorentina! This particular cut of meat is a large 2-inch-thick steak made from Chianina beef raised in Tuscany. This dish is only available in Florence or Tuscany.

Each side is cooked for a few minutes and served very rare, this dish should be shared by two or more people.

7. Sicily for Gelato and Sicilian Cannoli

Sicilian cuisine is another world. With its fertile volcanic Mediterranean soil, this stunning island produces some of the best food in Italy. Desserts are no exception. Gelato's true origins date back to 1686, when a Sicilian fisherman perfected the first ice cream machine. Authentic, natural gelato, now widely marketed, is something you should seek out on your trip to Sicily. There's nothing better than taking a stroll through a city full of wine and good food and heading to your local gelateria for a few scoops of Sicilian Pistachio di Bronte DOP gelato.

What you may not know is that Cannoli is believed to have originated in Palermo, Sicily during Arab rule as a symbol of fertility. Sweet ricotta cheese is poured over crispy rolls, then garnished with nuts, chocolate chips and candied fruit. The results are great.

8. Carpaccio in Venice

Carpaccio is a traditional Italian dish from Venice. Carpaccio, thinly sliced ​​meat or fish mixed with olive oil and parmigiano-reggiano breadcrumbs, is usually served over arugula as an appetizer. It is believed to have started in 1950, when beef carpaccio was first served at Harry's Bar in Venice.

9. Everywhere for Pasta!

Gnocchi from Sardinia, ravioli from Lazio, pappardelle from Tuscany, tagliatelle from Bologna, linguine from Genoa, tortellini from Emilia-Romagna and fettuccine from Rome. The best Italian pasta can be found in any region. It is one's mission to find pasta in a visited area, grab a fork and dive in!

Tip: In Italy, not all dishes can be topped with Parmesan cheese. If your dish is meant to be served with parmesan cheese, you will usually be asked if you want it.

Where do you go to taste the Top Ten Italian Dishes?

10. Sardinia for Seadas

Sardinia will treat you to an amazing cuisine that thrives on ingredients grown in the fertile farmlands of the country's interior.

Seadas is a delicious Sardinian pastry that can be eaten as a dessert or appetizer. Basically, they are large ravioli filled with pecorino cheese (sheep's milk cheese), fried with lemon and covered with honey. You can find this pastry all over Sardinia, but make sure it's freshly baked so you can eat it warm with soft, melted cheese. Yum!


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