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  • Georgina D'Angelo

Top 10 Dishes + Other Must Try Foods in Italy

Updated: 6 days ago

Must Try Foods in Italy - Top 10 Dishes in Italy Alpacka My Bags

Fellow foodies, welcome to one of the best countries in the world to visit if you’re a fan of incredible cuisine. Italy has no shortage of delectable dishes, drinks, and sweets. If you’re ready to dive into the Italian culinary world, keep reading for the top 10 dishes in Italy as well as other must try foods in Italy.


Enjoy the freshest pasta you’ve ever tasted with mouthwatering flavors like truffle and walnut. Sip on refreshing cocktails and amazing wines. And don’t forget to start and end your day with a sweet treat when traveling in Italy. The pastries and desserts really are the icing on the cake.


It’s no secret one of Italy’s main draws is its cuisine, but what exactly should you try when you’re here? While the list could go on forever, there are certain dishes you definitely don’t want to miss out on. Let’s dive into the most popular food dishes in Italy and some lesser known must-eats. 


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The Ultimate Guide to Italy for Foodies


Every region in Italy has its own local dishes, and some of these must try foods in Italy are found all throughout the country. From sweet to savory, carbs to meat, wine to coffee, Italy knows how to create incredible dishes and mouth watering flavors.


To begin, here are the top 10 dishes in Italy. If you keep reading you’ll find even more foods to try in Italy, it will be impossible to eat them all, but you might as well try.


Top 10 Dishes in Italy


1 Cacio e Pepe


Possibly the most popular dish in Italy, cacio e pepe is a simple dish with so much flavor. Made with pecorino romano cheese and ground black pepper, this pasta dish comes from the Lazio region (where Rome is located) but is commonly found in many places in Italy.


Cacio e Pepe - Most Popular Dish in Italy

2 Carbonara


This is a creamy pasta made with cheese, eggs, fatty pork, and black pepper. Carbonara comes from the Lazio region as well (where Rome is located), but you can find it in many other cities throughout Italy.



Carbonara - Top 10 Dishes in Italy

3 Quattro Formaggi Pizza


Italian pizza is traditionally a thin crust pizza. Quattro Formaggi is a classic flavor and it consists of four cheeses. These are generally cheeses such as mozzarella, gorgonzola, fontina, parmesan, camembert, mozzarella, or blue cheese.


Quattro Formaggi Pizza - Best Foods to Eat in Italy

4 Pasta alla Norma


This Italian pasta dish is native to Catania, Sicily. Pasta alla Norma is made with tomato sauce, fried eggplant slices, and most importantly, salted ricotta. You may find it occasionally outside of Sicily, but this pasta dish alone makes the visit to the southern isle worthwhile.


Pasta all Norma and Walnut Pasta - Top 10 Dishes in Italy

5 Tiramisu


Not only are the pasta and pizza a few of the best foods to try in Italy, but the desserts here are top tier as well. A classic Italian dessert you can often find anywhere is tiramisu. This decadent dessert is made with ladyfingers pastry, coffee, and mascarpone custard. 


Tiramisu - Top 10 Dishes in Italy

6 Trofie al Pesto


This Ligurian pasta dish is made with basil pesto and trofie pasta; specifically basil, pine nuts, cheese, and garlic. Just imagine savoring this delicious pasta with a view of the colorful buildings of Cinque Terre and the sea breeze in your hair (can it get any better).


Trofie al Pesto and bread - Top 10 Dishes in Italy

7 Cannoli


Another dessert, and one of the best foods to try in Italy, is the Sicilian cannoli. These consist of crunchy fried pastry dough with a sweet ricotta filling and they make the perfect after-dinner treat. 


Cannoli and Gelato - Top 10 Dishes in Italy

8 Caprese Salad


An Italian lunch and dinner starter you can’t miss, Caprese salad is another of the must-try foods in Italy. This tasty concoction is made with fresh mozzarella cheese (more on Italian cheese below), tomatoes, and basil, then it’s topped with salt, olive oil, and sometimes a balsamic glaze. This Italian salad comes from the island of Capri but can be found all over Italy. 


Caprese Salad - Top 10 Dishes in Italy

9 Arancini


Another Sicilian delight, arancini are rice balls stuffed with a filling, coated in breadcrumbs, and then fried. Because they originated in Sicily, you’ll find arancini shops offering a wide variety of fillings from cheese to spinach to bolognese throughout the southern island. I recommend trying several flavors and going back for more. 


Arancini - Top 10 Dishes in Italy

10 Margherita Pizza


This list of the top 10 dishes in Italy would be incomplete without the classic Margherita pizza. This delicious pizza is topped with crushed peeled tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, mozzarella, and olive oil. If you’ve had “Margherita pizza” in the USA before, don’t expect it to be just like that. Try an authentic Neapolitan pizza while in Italy and see for yourself. 



Margherita Pizza and Wine - Top 10 Dishes in Italy

Other Must Try Foods in Italy


Pizza and Pasta…Obviously

It’s no secret that pizza and pasta are some of the best foods to eat in Italy. These two dishes are traditionally from here and they sure know how to make them well. 


Try classics like pizza Margherita and quattro formaggi, or see what your local restaurants offer. You can find toppings such as prosciutto and mortadella or twists on the classics like a lemon honey drizzled quattro formaggi in Cinque Terre



The pasta in Italy is the freshest you can find. I mentioned cacio e pepe, trofie al pesto, pasta alla Norma, and carbonara above in the top 10 dishes in Italy, but there are many others I recommend as well. 


If you have time and are hungry enough, try lemon pasta on the Amalfi Coast, walnut pasta with the creamiest sauce ever, and any pasta with truffle in and on it like the truffle & chocolate risotto we tried in Florence.  


  • Margherita Pizza

  • Quattro Formaggi Pizza

  • Carbonara

  • Cacio e Pepe

  • Gnocchi

  • Lemon Pasta

  • Walnut Pasta

  • Pasta alla Norma

  • Truffle & Chocolate Risotto


Savory + Starters


Not only are the main entrees in Italy to die for, but even their starters, or antipasti, are all so flavorful. Some of the best starters to begin your Italian dining experience with are:


  • Bruschetta

  • Caprese Salad

  • Focaccia

  • Arancini

  • Eggplant Caponata 



Meats & Cheeses

Lunch at Obica Mozzarella Bar in Rome

Italy boasts some of the best cheese and meats around the world. If you’re a fan of either, you will be foodie heaven while in Italy. Enjoy the freshest and creamiest cheeses like mozzarella di Bufala and burrata, or a sharper cheese like parmesan and pecorino.


When it comes to meats in Italy for foodies, try the prosciutto, mortadella, pancetta, soppressata, and guanciale. You can often find these as pizza toppings or in sandwiches, or grab some from a local market.


  • Mozzarella di Bufala

  • Burrata

  • Parmesan

  • Pecorino

  • Prosciutto

  • Soppressata

  • Pancetta

  • Guanciale


Desserts and Pastries


Some of the best must try foods in Italy are the sweets. Desserts here are mouthwatering and pastries are the best way to start your day (paired with an espresso or cappuccino of course). 


The best Italian pastries you must try are:


  • Pistachio Croissants - fluffy croissants stuffed with a sweet, creamy pistachio filling

  • Bombolone - Italian donuts made with butter, eggs, and brioche dough (often filled with various fillings)

  • Sfogliatella - flaky pastry filled with a creamy, custard-like filling

  • Granita & Brioche - a water based frozen treat (similar to “Italian ice”) served with a sweet brioche bun for breakfast, traditionally Sicilian

  • Cannoli - crunchy fried pastry dough with a sweet ricotta filling

  • Cantucci or biscotti - lightly sweet, crunchy almond biscuits often served with dessert wine


Must-try desserts in Italy are:


  • Panna Cotta - this Italian dessert is made of sweetened cream that is thickened with gelatin and is often topped with a fruit compote or other flavors like espresso

  • Gelato - Italian ice cream that you can find in a wide variety of flavors in every city

  • Marzipan - a European confection made of sugar and almond meal

  • Tiramisu - a cake like dessert made with ladyfingers pastry, coffee, and mascarpone custard


Cocktails, Wine, and Coffee


Don’t forget to pair these must try foods in Italy with a delicious drink! From morning to night, Italy has the perfect refreshing cocktail, wine, or coffee to enjoy with your meals.


  • Aperol Spritz - a classic Italian aperitif cocktail consisting of prosecco, bitters, and soda water (orange in color and enjoyed before a meal)

  • Limoncello - a lemon liqueur most commonly affiliated with the Amalfi Coast

  • Sciacchetrà Wine - sweet, white dessert wine originating in Cinque Terre’s coastal towns

  • All the wine - a must try while in Italy, learn more about regional wines in Italy

  • Espresso - Italians take food, wine, AND coffee very seriously, start your day with espresso or a cappuccino while traveling in Italy



Cheers with two Aperol Spritz in Catania, Sicily

Must Try Foods in Italy


It’s no secret that Italy knows how to cook and drink. If you’re thinking about planning a trip to Italy solely to try as much food as you can, that is a great idea. You could spend all your waking hours slowly enjoying all the flavors this European country has to offer.


Now you have the ultimate guide to Italy for foodies, you can make your way around the country dining on the top 10 dishes in Italy and other must try foods and drinks.


Get ready to sip on an Aperol Spritz while savoring the view of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, dip your brioche in granita to start your day on the right foot in Sicily, or beg for more when you lick your plate clean after trying carbonara in Rome.


Fellow foodies, if you haven’t been yet, this is your sign to book a trip to the land of la dolce vita and try as many of the best foods to eat in Italy as possible. No trip to Italy is complete without eating far too much!


While you’re visiting Italy, you may also find these travel guides helpful…



Must Try Foods in Italy - Pinterest Cover

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aboutME

Hi, I'm Georgina, adventure enthusiast and creator of Alpacka My Bags. I'm here for all of your travel and adventure planning needs! 

 

I've been exploring this beautiful planet since I was a child, so I decided it was time to share my travel tips with others to enjoy. After college, I knew the "traditional career path" was not for me.

 

I needed to travel and explore what this world has to offer. It sounds cliché but you do only live once. So I made going on adventures a priority, and soon realized that I wanted to share them with others so you can enjoy them too! 

My passion is spreading the travel bug and showing others that travel is attainable and so worth it. From itineraries to camping tips to packing lists, Alpacka My Bags has you covered!

Join me, and often my partner and my dog, as we find exciting adventures and travel recommendations for you! If you've been bit by the travel bug just as I have, I hope you find my tips useful for all of your future travels.

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