In virtually any corner of the globe you can find pastas and
pizzas. But in the country that developed those dishes and countless others,
you’ll discover the real reasons that Italian food has migrated across the
globe. Although it’s a widely known fact that Italy’s culinary reputation is
legendary, eating in Italy will surprise you. Dishes you thought you knew take
on a fresh, Technicolor-level deliciousness. An infinite diversity of Italian
cuisine is on display in the countless menu items that you’ve never tried
before. Once you’ve landed in these three famed Italian cities, find a
restaurant and order up these essentials.
RomeCacio e pepe |
with cheese and pepper – it almost sounds too basic to be good. But take one
bite and you’ll see why this iconic dish is a perfect expression of Roman
gastronomy. The crunchy bite of the coarse-ground pepper, the powerful
nutty-salty character of Pecorino-Romano cheese, and perfectly cooked pasta
showcase the bold, unfussy character of Rome’s best dishes. It’s simple in its
ingredients, yes, but to coax the right flavors and textures from those basics
takes some skill.
ShutterstockPuntarelle alla Romana
Eating your vegetables is more
than just good health advice in Rome. This characteristically Roman dish of
shaved chicory makes creative use of parts of this leafy plant that might
otherwise get tossed aside. The fibrous central stalks are shaved into strips
and then soaked in water until they soften and curl up. Once tender, they’re
tossed with a dressing of anchovies, olive oil and lemon. Afraid of the
anchovies? Don’t be – they simply add a sharp, salty and savory note to the
dressing, rather than fishy flavor.
ShutterstockCoda alla Vaccinara |
Rome is nothing if not a long-lived city, and over the millennia, its residents
often had to learn to make delicious food from meager – or even undesirable –
ingredients. Coda alla Vaccinara is one dish that illustrates just how good
they got at that practice. Made with oxtail, a.k.a. a cow’s tail, this rich and
hearty braised stew will become a new favorite for anyone who likes their meat
flavorful and fall-apart tender.
ShutterstockNero di seppie | In terms of
eye-catching cuisine, this storied Venetian specialty is awfully hard to beat.
The ink of cuttlefish, which are bountifully available in the Venetian lagoon,
is used for both flavor and color in pastas and risottos. The jet-black
appearance is startlingly beautiful, but so is the taste: rich and earthy, but
still redolent of the sea.
Seafood | Any
number of seafood dishes could make the must-eat list in Venice, so suffice it
to say that no matter whether you like your seafood grilled, stewed or
straight-up raw, this is the place to enjoy the bounties of the sea. Some top
options include pesce crudo, a raw seafood platter; sarde in saor, a cicchetti
(Venice’s version of small-bite bar food) with onions and sardines; and the
bounty of shellfish that are unique to the area, from tiny sea snails
(garusoli) to soft-shelled crabs (moleche or moeche).
Carpaccio | Venice’s
cuisine has more to recommend it than seafood alone. One dish that’s become a
classic around the world actually originated in Venice, at Harry’s Bar. Created
for a patron on a strict diet of raw meat, and named after a Venetian artist,
carpaccio is a dish that might give you pause – but shouldn’t. Ultra-thin
slices of raw beef are arranged on a plate and then crosshatched with
“universal” sauce; go for the original at Harry’s and you’ll be treated to a
silky, savory delight that’s you’ll never forget.
ShutterstockBistecca alla Fiorentina
| Tuscany combines the rustic and the refined like few other places on
earth, and the Bistecca alla Fiorentina captures that unique character. The
simple preparation – salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon as a garnish – means
that the meat itself takes center stage and has to be both top quality and
carefully handled. Take a big, dry-aged rib cut, roughly two-and-a-half inches
thick, grill it to rare (absolutely no further!) and you’ve got the classic
Tuscany is a great place to visit in all seasons, so if you’re there when it’s
a bit cooler, warm up with this hearty, filling stew. The name means
“re-boiled” and evolved from the practice of re-boiling bean soup, with some
extra ingredients (bread, cheese, Tuscan kale) added that take it straight into
comfort food territory.
ShutterstockTrippa alla Fiorentina
| When you’re traveling, being a bit more adventurous in your menu
selections can pay off big time. For instance, tripe might not sound too
appealing under normal circumstances, but in the hands of an accomplished
Florentine chef whose family has been making it for generations, it can be
inarguably delicious. Cooked long and slow with a bevy of tomatoes and other
vegetables, this comforting dish is guaranteed to change your mind about what
parts of the cow are “off limits.”
Join DreamPlanGo's Community
Join over 100,000 travel enthusiasts!
Get DreamPlanGo's latest articles straight to your inbox, plan your next trip, help answer other traveler's questions