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Most of us are familiar with Italian food, right? We know and love having Pizza, and Pasta. But Italian cuisine is not limited to just these globally popular food dishes. The culinary culture in Italy is rich and boasts of a wide range of flavour-packed, delightfully simple, and delectable dishes. 

But, finding the best food in a country that has such amazing regional gastronomies can be challenging. So, if you have plans to travel to Italy, you must surely try some of the regional dishes that are made of freshest seasonal produce.  

Yes, we understand, that ‘best’ food is a matter of personal choice. So, we list a few famous Italian dishes that you are worth trying, and we have not included pizza or pasta.

Panzanella 

One of the classic Italian dishes of the peasants, Panzanella comes from the Tuscan region in Italy. It is a local staple and is essentially a healthy and delicious salad that has bread and tomatoes. Traditionally, the dish was made of stale bread and onions, and the Tuscan farmers had it during the summer months to keep their body cool.  

Over the years, Panzanella has evolved tremendously. The modern Panzanella is made of juicy, sun-ripened tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, cucumbers, and leftover bread, and seasoned with olive oil and vinegar. The dish is simple, tasty and gives you a taste of the Italian’s love affair with the local and seasonal produce.  

Caponata 

Sicilian food is one of the most popular international foods. It is a wonderful mash-up of Spanish, Arabic and Greek influences. But, if you have to taste one Sicilian dish, let it be Caponata, it is one of Italians’ beloved eggplant dishes.  

The star of this salad is the eggplant, which is mixed in a gorgeous sweet and sour sauce, and it contains celery, capers, onions, and vegetables like potatoes, carrots and beans. Some people even like to add pine nuts, and octopus meat in the dish. The best thing about this dish is that there is no standard recipe for it, as every family and restaurant in Italy have their own version.  

When you are in Sicily, you must try Caponata, it is one of the best Italian dishes that would make you smile from ear to ear. 

Gelato 

Ice cream may not be invented in Italy, but over the centuries, Italians have perfected the art of making an ice cream. The history of Gelato dates back to the Renaissance period, and some stories suggest that it was invented at the court of Medici in Florence.  

Today, there are countless gelato stores in Italy but you can find the best ones in Bologna, Florence, and Rome where you can find a myriad of varieties of this frozen dessert in different flavours. A unique thing about Gelato is that unlike the regular ice cream, it contains less fat, and more natural flavours.  

Burrata 

We know Italians love their cheese, and if you love cheese too, you would surely fall in love at the first of Burrata. Originating in Murgia, this rich and buttery cheese made from mozzarella and fresh cream has a very short shelf life, and it must be eaten within 24 hours. It can be added to any dish you want, be it salads, pasta, sandwich or even bread toast. No matter what you have Burrata with, it will surely elevate its taste. 

Risotto 

Rice is a staple in Italy. And, Risotto is one of the best Italian foods made of Rice. Although Risotto is now considered a quintessential Italian food, it is believed that the Arabs brought it to Italy in Sicily during the 13th century.  

You can find different versions of Risotto throughout Italy. While the rice remains constant, the other ingredients change. For example, in Puglia, rice is cooked with mussels and potatoes, whereas in Rome, Risotto is made with rice, minced meat, tomatoes and parmesan cheese. The Risotto taste varies in different parts of Italy, but they are all made with love, and are worth trying.  

Cicchetti 

Cicchetti is very similar to Spanish Tapa, and deserves a place in the top 8 Italian dishes. They are inexpensive, and are served in almost all traditional wine bars in Italy. Typically, Cicchetti is a dish where different ingredients like artichokes, tomatoes, cod are served on top of a bread piece with cheese. It tastes best when paired with Ombra, i.e., a glass of wine.  

While there are many restaurants and cafes in Italy where you get Cicchetti, you can find the best version in Venice. Here it is an integral part of the local cuisine. Try a few different types of it to get a taste of authentic Italian food.  

So, there you have a list of famous Italian dishes, and if they are making you crave for an Italian meal, it is time to pack your bags and go on a culinary journey of a lifetime. 

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