9 Delicious Italian Dishes by Region: A Culinary Tour Through Italy

Italy is a country filled with beauty and diversity. It’s no wonder it ranks as the fifth most popular tourist destination in the world for travelers and tourists. Keep reading for more on these Italian Dishes by Region.

Enjoy these Italian Dishes with a Culinary Tour through Italy

It is a place where you can experience the unique culture in each region – not just through historical sites that will take your breath away, but also through the outstanding food and wine they produce.

Italian Countryside - regional Italian dishes

From the bustling metropolises of Rome and Milan to the stunning coastlines in Puglia, every nook has something worth tasting and enjoying. 

The following is a list (in no particular order) of some of the must-try dishes you will find in Italy organized by region. Of course, we can’t cover each of Italy’s distinct regions in this article, but we’ll do our best to try and highlight some real stars and lesser-known dishes.

If you can’t make it to Italy to try them in person, your local or online Italian grocery store will have the ingredients you need to make these dishes come alive.

Now, let’s explore Italy, region by region, dish by dish!

  1. Risotto alla Milanese from Lombardy
    • Lombardy is a region in northern Italy where you will find superb cuisine and some of the world’s best wines. It has many inhabitants who work in agriculture, which means food ingredients are fresh and their food is homemade.
    • Here you’ll find risotto alla Milanese, also known as saffron risotto. This rice-based dish originates from the northern Italian city of Milan.
    • The rice is short grain and is cooked in bone broth with saffron to give it its distinct yellow color and then topped with butter and Parmesan cheese.
  2. Trofie al Pesto from Liguria
    • Liguria is located on Italy’s northwest coast and is well-known for an especially famous dish – pesto. Called pasta al pesto when served with pasta and as a sauce, basil is the main ingredient of this tasty concoction.
    • Other ingredients include pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil.
    • Each area has its own variation on what goes into the sauce or what it’s served with. For example, in Genoa, pesto is often cooked with trofie, a short, twisted pasta made in Liguria.
  3. Panzanella from Tuscany
    • Tuscany, located directly below Liguria, has a wide variety of famous dishes to enjoy. Panzanella is one of our favorites.
    • It’s a cold salad dish made with bread and tomatoes and Italian classics such as basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.
    • Using day-old bread, this is a great dish to eat in the summer or any time you have leftover bread.
  4. Tortellini alla Bolognese from Emilia-Romagna
    • Bologna is the capital of Emilia-Romagna, located in northern Italy. The dish tortellini alla bolognese is a must-try from this area.
    • It’s a delightfully meaty and hearty version of tortellini filled with mortadella, veal, and ham. Served either in a meat broth or with tomato sauce, you’ll be going back for second helpings of this dish.
  5. Spaghetti al Cartoccio from Abruzzo 
    • Abruzzo on Italy’s central east coast offers up spaghetti al cartoccio.
    • This dish is spaghetti cooked inside foil or parchment paper. It’s seasoned with garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper and includes seafood such as squid, shrimp, and clams.
    • Cooked in white wine with fresh tomatoes and parsley along for the ride, it’s a tasty delight that varies from our traditional notions of what spaghetti is. 
  6. Spezzatino di Cinghiale from Umbria
    • The landlocked Umbria eschews the common use of seafood in Italian dishes.
    • Instead, it turns to the forest to bring satisfaction to the palate. This is evidenced by their use of wild mushrooms and game meats in various dishes.
    • A hearty and down-to-earth stew, spezzatino di cinghiale brings together wild boar flavors with porcini mushrooms and rosemary, tomatoes, and red wine.
    • It is best served alongside pappardelle and we recommend following it with Perugina Italian chocolate from the same region.
  7. Pizza Napoletana from Campania
    • No list of Italian food would be complete without mentioning pizza. And in keeping with the tradition of Italian food in general, the origin of pizza is hotly debated.
    • Many believe that Italy’s Campania region is the birthplace of the beloved food. You’ll find several types of pizza in Naples, but the thin-crusted pizza Napoletana is one of the most famous.
    • Kept incredibly simple, traditional toppings include tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil.
  8. Pasta con le Sarde from Sicily 
    • The southern island of Sicily is the largest in the Mediterranean and is recognized as one of Italy’s five autonomous regions.
    • Its national dish, pasta con le sarde, is a delicious medley of fresh fennel, pine nuts, raisins, saffron, bread crumbs, parsley, and sardines.
    • This delicious meal is served hot, and it’s worth trying if you want to experience many of the delightful influences of Sicily in a single dish.
  9. Gelato and Dolce from Italia
    • Neither of these delights has a specific region of origin. Still, no list of Italian food and dishes would be complete without mentioning them.
    • An Italian frozen dessert specialty, gelato is often served at the end of a meal to cleanse the palate or as an afternoon treat.
    • In Italian, dolce is a term that refers to anything sweet. These treats are found throughout Italy and can refer to many must-try desserts.
Italian Pizza - regional dishes

Making These Dishes at Home

A trip to Italy isn’t in your cards anytime soon? No worries! Most Italian recipes are available online for you to try.

In addition, you can easily purchase imported Italian pasta to get the real experience at home. Once you’ve tried a few of these flavorful dishes at home, you’ll be ready to book your trip to the motherland itself!

Tasty Recipes to Try:

Butternut and apples with cornbread Panzanella salad

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