Thursday, December 4, 2014

Italian Food: Where to Order Your Favorite Italian Dishes

"They have preserved the conditions of preparing food, handed down through generations, and have come to know them as expressions of their families." Bill Buford, Heat

We all know Italian food it's amazing, then why on earth do I hear many people saying they came to Italy and didn't really get an extraordinary meal?  I think I know the answer.  They are ordering the wrong dishes in the wrong places.

So let's back up a little.  Italian food is very regional, meaning the dishes you find in one part of Italy are not necessarily what you would want to order in another region.  They are specialized in their cuisine as it mostly involves very local ingredients.  Here is the deal for those of you planning to visit Italy and would like to have an out-of-this-world experience when it comes to food.  Of course this will require you to be a bit open-minded and willing to order something you may not have had in mind.

The tip of the day: order your dishes according to your location, be adventurous and you will be rewarded with an amazing meal.  So here is they list of regions and the dishes they're known for:

When in Rome (Region: Lazio) order the following:
  • Spaghetti All'Amatriciana (red sauce with pig cheeks bacon that tastes just like bacon)
  • Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe (like a local mac and cheese with pepper)
  • Spaghetti Alla Carbonara (pasta with egg, pecorino cheese and the pig cheek bacon)
  • Carcciofi alla Giudia (artichokes jewish style)
  • Abbacchio alla Romana (roman baby-lamb)

When in Florence (Region: Tuscany) order the following:
  • Bistecca Alla Fiorentina (Florence-style steak)
  • Ribollita (soup with beans and chard)
  • Pappa al Pomodoro (local bread soaked in tomato sauce)
When in Venice (Region: Veneto) order the following:

  • Baccalà Mantecato (creamed baccalà)
  • Sarde in Saor (Sardines Ventian-style with raisins)
When in Genova (Region: Liguria) order the following: 
  • Troffie al Pesto (short fresh pasta with pesto sauce, their local specialty)
  • Anything al Pesto
  • Farinata (Chickpea flour bread, kinds of like a corn bread consistency)
When in Milan (Region: Lombardia) order the following:
  • Agnolini di Carne in Brodo (small meat-stuffed pasta in broth)
  • Risotto (typical Milanese dish)
  • Tortelli Alla Zucca (pumpkin-stuffed ravioli)
  • Cotoletta Alla Milanese (breaded chicken breast)
When in Bologna (Region: Emilia Romagna) order the following:
  • Tagliatelle al Ragu (the real name for spaghetti Bolognese)
  • Piadina (flat bread with any local ham)
  • Lasagna al Forno (baked pasta layered with meat sauce)
  • Anything with balsamic vinegar reduction
  • Polpettone (meatloaf)
When in the South of Italy and anywhere near the ocean, always go with seafood and fish.

When inlands, something with mushrooms (funghi) is always good.
When in doubt order Spaghetti al Pomodoro (tomato sauce) or Spaghetti aglio olio (pasta with oil and garlic). And Naples=Pizza.

Hope you have a wonderful trip to Italy and that you get to try their amazing dishes and remember their fresh and intense flavors for years to come.  If you live in Rome and are looking for international food, click here for a list of non-italian restaurants.

And that is all for today.  Buon Apettito 

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