10 Famous Foods in Italy: Best of Italian Dishes

Last Updated on 14th February 2024 by admin

Italian cuisine is famous worldwide for its delicious and diverse flavors. Italy is a country with a rich culinary tradition, and its food is some of the most popular in the world. From the classic pizza and pasta dishes to regional specialties such as risotto and ossobuco, there is something to satisfy everyone’s taste buds. From the rolling hills of Tuscany to the bustling streets of Rome, Italian cuisine offers a diverse and delectable array of flavors.

In this article, we will explore the 10 most famous foods in Italy, each with its own unique story and culinary significance. And while you’re indulging in these culinary delights, don’t forget to explore the incredible tourist attractions in Italy as well!

1) Pizza

famous italian pizza

Pizza is perhaps the most famous Italian food in the world. Pizza, with its origins in Naples, has grown to become a global phenomenon. It is made with a simple dough that is topped with tomato sauce and cheese, and then baked in an oven.  Pizza can be topped with a variety of ingredients, including vegetables, meat, seafood, and cheese.

Some of the most famous types of Pizza include:

  • Pizza Margherita: This is a classic Neapolitan pizza that is topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil. It is one of the most famous foods in Italy
  • Pizza Napoletana: This pizza is made with a thin crust and is cooked in a wood-fired oven. It is typically topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and anchovies.
  • Pizza Quattro Stagioni: This pizza is topped with four different toppings, representing the four seasons. The most common toppings are ham, mushrooms, artichokes, and olives.
  • Pizza Marinara: This is a Neapolitan pizza with a topping of tomatoes, oregano, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and sometimes fresh basil. 
  • Pizza Capricciosa: This is a classic Italian pizza that is topped with ham, mushrooms, artichokes, and black olives, it is now one of the most famous pizzas in the world.

Each style offers a distinct pizza experience, catering to diverse tastes. Whether you’re a purist or an adventurer, pizza has something for everyone. Enjoy a slice of the world’s favorite food!


2) Pasta

famous italian pesto pasta

Pasta is another staple of Italian cuisine, it is the heart and soul of Italian cooking, comes in an astonishing array of shapes, sizes, and textures. It is made from durum wheat flour and water, and can be shaped into a variety of different forms, such as spaghetti, penne, and macaroni. Pasta can be served with a variety of different sauces, such as tomato sauce, pesto, or Alfredo sauce. Pasta is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed for any meal.

Some of the most famous types of Pasta include:

  • Spaghetti Carbonara: This is a classic Italian pasta dish that is made with spaghetti, guanciale (cured pork jowl), eggs, and Pecorino Romano cheese.
  • Cacio e pepe: It is a classic Italian pasta dish that is made with spaghetti, grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and black pepper.
  • Spaghetti Marinara: Spaghetti Marinara is a simple Italian pasta dish that is made with spaghetti, tomato sauce, garlic, oregano, and olive oil.
  • Pasta alla Norma: Pasta alla Norma is a traditional Sicilian pasta dish made with eggplant, tomato sauce, ricotta salata, and basil.
  • Lasagna: It is a famous Italian dish made with layers of pasta, meat sauce, béchamel sauce, and mozzarella cheese.

Pasta is a delicious and satisfying dish that is perfect for any occasion. It is a great option for a quick and easy meal, or for a special occasion gathering. It is also a good option for children, as it is typically made with ingredients that they are already familiar with.


3) Risotto

Risotto, Italian Dish

Risotto is a rice dish that is cooked in a broth until it is creamy and tender. Risotto is a creamy Italian rice dish that is made with arborio rice, which is slowly simmered with flavorful broth until it reaches a velvety texture. Ingredients like saffron, porcini mushrooms, vegetables, meat or fresh seafood create delightful variations of this Italian favorite. Risotto is believed to have originated in the rice paddies of Lombardy, Italy, in the 16th century.

Some of the most famous types of Risotto include:

  • Risotto alla Milanese: This is a traditional Italian risotto dish from the city of Milan. It is one of the most famous Italian foods, made with arborio rice, broth, saffron, and butter.
  • Risotto ai Funghi: It is a classic Italian dish that exemplifies the art of combining creamy Arborio rice with the earthy, umami-rich flavors of various mushrooms.
  • Risotto di Mare: This dish is a delicious and flavorful risotto made with seafood, such as shrimp, scallops, and mussels. Risotto alla Zucca: It is a delicious and comforting risotto made with pumpkin, arborio rice, broth, and Parmesan cheese.

Risotto is a delicious and creamy dish that is perfect for a special occasion. It is a great way to showcase the flavors of rice, broth, and Parmesan cheese.


4) Fiorentina Steak

Italian Fiorentina Steak

Fiorentina Steak (also known as Bistecca alla Fiorentina) is a thick-cut, T-bone steak from Tuscany. This iconic dish is a carnivore’s dream, celebrated for its flavorful T-bone steak and minimalistic preparation, and it is typically grilled or roasted over oak or olive wood. It showcases the simplicity of Italian cuisine combined with a love for high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients. Fiorentina Steak is one of the most famous foods in Italy.

Some of the most famous types of Fiorentina Steak include:

  • Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine Steak): This is the classic type of Fiorentina Steak, and it is made from the longissimus dorsi and psoas major muscles of a young steer or heifer.
  • Filetto alla Fiorentina (Florentine Fillet): This is a type of Fiorentina Steak that is made from the fillet mignon muscle of a young steer or heifer.
  • Controfiletto alla Fiorentina (Florentine Ribeye): This is a type of Fiorentina Steak that is made from the ribeye muscle of a young steer or heifer.
  • Picanha alla Fiorentina (Florentine Picanha): This is a type of Fiorentina Steak that is made from the picanha muscle of a young steer or heifer.

No matter which type of Fiorentina Steak you choose, you are sure to enjoy a delicious and impressive meal. It’s a delightful experience for meat lovers and a culinary journey into the heart of Tuscany.


5) Arancini

Arancini, Famous Italian rice balls dish

Arancini are a type of fried rice ball that is a popular street food in Sicily and also one of  the famous foods in Italy. They are typically made with arborio rice, ragù (meat sauce), and mozzarella cheese. Arancini are often filled with other ingredients as well, such as peas, mushrooms, or tuna. Arancini is a Sicilian snack that has found a special place in the hearts and taste buds of people around the world. These delightful rice balls are crispy on the outside and filled with a creamy, flavorful center.

Some of the most famous types of Arancini include:

  • Arancini al Ragù: This is the most classic type of arancini, and it is made with ragù (meat sauce), mozzarella cheese, and peas.
  • Arancini alla Norma: This type of arancini is filled with eggplant, tomato sauce, ricotta salata cheese, and basil. It is a vegetarian arancini that is named after the opera Norma by Vincenzo Bellini.
  • Arancini al Pesce Spada: This type of arancini is filled with swordfish, tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese. It is a seafood arancini that is popular in Sicily.
  • Arancini al Pistacchio: This type of arancini is filled with pistachio pesto, mozzarella cheese, and ricotta salata cheese. It is a Sicilian specialty that is made with the famous Bronte pistachios.
  • Arancini al Prosciutto e Funghi : This type of arancini is filled with ham, mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, and béchamel sauce. It is a creamy and flavorful arancini that is perfect for a special occasion.

Arancini offer a taste of Sicilian comfort food and are a perfect example of how Italian cuisine elevates humble ingredients into something truly exceptional.


6) Lasagna

lasagna, famous italian dish

Lasagna, a quintessential Italian dish, is a beloved comfort food famous for its layers of pasta, rich meat or vegetable sauce, creamy béchamel, and melted cheese. Each bite is a harmonious blend of flavors and textures, and is often served on special occasions. It is typically baked in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly. The exact origins of lasagna are unknown, but it is believed to have originated in Naples, Italy, in the 14th century and it is one of the famous foods in Italy.

Some of the most famous types of Lasagna include:

  • Lasagna alla Bolognese: This is the classic lasagna, made with layers of pasta, béchamel sauce, ragù (meat sauce), and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
  • Lasagna alla Norma: This Sicilian lasagna is made with layers of pasta, tomato sauce, eggplant, ricotta salata cheese, and basil.
  • Lasagna Verde: This green lasagna is made with spinach lasagna noodles and a variety of fillings, such as ricotta cheese, béchamel sauce, and vegetables.
  • Lasagna di Mare: This seafood lasagna is made with layers of pasta, tomato sauce, seafood, and béchamel sauce. The seafood can include shrimp, crab, lobster, and scallops.

These are just a few of the many different types of lasagna that can be found around the world. Lasagna is a versatile dish that can be made with a variety of different ingredients. Lasagna is a classic dish that is perfect for any occasion.


7) Osso Buco

Osso buco, famous Italian dish

Osso buco is a classic Italian dish that can be prepared in various ways, each with its unique flavor profile and regional influences. The name “osso buco” means “bone with a hole” in Italian, and it refers to the marrow bone that is in the center of the veal shank. When you think of best foods in Italy, osso buco is certainly a dish that comes to mind. It is originates from the Lombardy region in northern Italy, particularly the city of Milan.

Some of the most famous types of Osso Buco include:

  • Osso Buco alla Milanese: This is the quintessential osso buco, originating from Milan. It is traditionally prepared with veal shanks braised in a white wine-based sauce with vegetables, herbs, and spices.
  • Osso Buco in Bianco: This variation of osso buco is known for its lighter color and more subtle flavors. The dish is typically served without gremolata, allowing the delicate flavors to shine through.
  • Osso Buco alla Romana: This Roman-style osso buco features a tomato-based sauce, adding a touch of sweetness and acidity to the dish.
  • Osso Buco alla Siciliana: This Sicilian version of osso buco showcases the island’s fresh ingredients and bold flavors. The dish is sometimes served with a side of pasta, creating a complete and flavorful meal.

These variations of osso buco demonstrate the versatility of this culinary classic, adapting to regional preferences and showcasing the diverse flavors of Italy’s culinary landscape.


8) Gelato

Gelato, the Italian ice cream

Gelato, the Italian word for ice cream, is a frozen dessert that has captured hearts and palates around the world. Gelato is typically lower in fat and calories than ice cream, and it has a denser, richer texture. The word “gelato” comes from the Italian verb “gelare,” which means “to freeze.” Gelato is believed to have originated in the 16th century, originally made with milk, cream and sugar, but other materials, such as eggs, nuts, and fruits were eventually added.

Some of the most famous types of Gelato include:

  • Stracciatella: This classic flavor features a smooth vanilla base studded with crunchy chocolate chips or shavings. It’s a simple yet satisfying combination that appeals to both children and adults.
  • Nocciola (Hazelnut): Hazelnut gelato is a decadent treat that showcases the nutty aroma and flavor of roasted hazelnuts. It’s often made with Piedmont hazelnuts.
  • Pistacchio (Pistachio): Pistachio gelato is a vibrant green delight that bursts with the nutty, slightly salty flavor of pistachios. It’s often made with Bronte pistachios from Sicily, known for their intense flavor and emerald-green color.
  • Cioccolato (Chocolate): Chocolate gelato is a universally loved flavor that satisfies any chocolate craving. It can range from a dark, intense chocolate to a lighter, milk chocolate variety, catering to various preferences.

These are just a few of the many delightful gelato flavors you can discover while strolling the streets of Italy or at your local gelateria.


9) Tiramisu

Tiramisu, a famous Italian dessert

Tiramisu, a beloved Italian dessert, is famous for its decadent layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers, creamy mascarpone cheese, and a generous dusting of cocoa powder. The name “tiramisu” comes from the Italian verb “tirare su,” which means “to pick me up” or “to cheer me up.” The recipe has been adapted into many varieties of cakes and other desserts. Its origin is disputed between the Italian regions of Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia.

Some of the most famous types of Tiramisu include:

  • Tiramisu al Cioccolato (Chocolate Tiramisu): This chocolate-lover’s delight incorporates cocoa powder into the mascarpone mixture, creating a rich and decadent chocolate flavor throughout the dessert.
  • Tiramisu alla Nutella (Nutella Tiramisu): This variation replaces mascarpone cheese with a generous spread of Nutella, the hazelnut-chocolate spread.
  • Pumpkin Spice Tiramisu: Perfect for fall, this variation incorporates pumpkin puree and warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, adding a seasonal flair to the dessert.
  • Fruit Tiramisu: This variation adds a fruity dimension to the dessert. Fresh berries like strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries are added between the layers, providing a burst of sweetness and color.

These variations showcase the versatility of Tiramisu, allowing it to adapt to various tastes and culinary trends. Whether you’re a purist or an adventurer in dessert, Tiramisu has something to offer for everyone.


10) Polenta

Polenta, one of the famous foods in Italy

Polenta is a beloved Italian dish with roots dating back to ancient times. It’s made from coarsely ground yellow cornmeal, and its comforting, hearty nature has made it a staple in Italian cuisine, especially in the northern regions. Polenta can be cooked and served in a variety of ways, making it a popular choice for both everyday meals and special occasions. When it comes to famous foods in Italy, polenta is definitely on the list of must-try dishes.

Some of the most famous types of Polenta include:

  • Polenta Bianca (White Polenta): This classic version is the most common type of polenta, made with plain cornmeal and water or broth. 
  • Polenta Contadina (Rustic Polenta): This hearty variation incorporates additional ingredients like cheese, meat, or vegetables into the polenta mixture, creating a more substantial and flavorful dish. 
  • Polenta alla Griglia (Grilled Polenta): This unique preparation involves grilling slices of cooked polenta, adding a smoky and slightly crispy texture to the dish. 
  • Polenta Abbrustolita (Fried Polenta): This variation involves shallow-frying cooked polenta slices until golden brown and crispy. 
  • Sgagliozze (Fried Polenta): Slices of set polenta are fried until they become golden and crispy on the outside while remaining soft inside.

These varieties showcase the adaptability of polenta, allowing it to cater to a wide range of tastes and preferences. Whether you prefer the classic version or one of the more creative preparations, polenta is a versatile canvas for culinary exploration.


In this culinary journey through Italy’s most famous foods, we’ve explored the heart and soul of Italian cuisine. From the comforting layers of lasagna to the tender veal shanks of ossobuco, the rich and creamy flavors of gelato, the classic elegance of tiramisu, and the versatile charm of polenta, Italian food is a true reflection of a culture that values tradition, simplicity, and the love of good food.

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