Italy is one of the best countries to visit for a foodie. You will find amazing pasta, pizza, unique dishes, pastries, desserts, and so much more. There is no shortage of wonderful foods to tempt your taste buds and fire up your palate across the country. While I will be sharing some of the best cities in Italy for food and reviews of popular dishes, please comment if you have been to additional areas and have additional suggestions to share!
There will be some specific desserts listed for some cities. But my philosophy will always be to try gelato, cannolis, tiramisu, and any other desserts you can find in Italy. Life is short, don’t skimp on dessert!
‘La Zucca’: literally translated as “The Pumpkin” in English. This restaurant is great for finding delicious vegetarian dishes. Try the pumpkin flan with butter, sage, and smoked ricotta. Notably, the pumpkin flan had the best flavor combinations of the dishes we tried at ‘La Zucca.’ If offered when you visit, the potato pie with pumpkin and fontina cheese was delightful as well.
Dessert: Gelato Di Natura- this was our first gelato in Italy. The gelateria puts a tasty waffle cone cookie in their gelato as many shops in Italy did. The dulce de leche was rich and had delicious caramel ribbons in it. The caffé flavor tastes like very strong coffee and the pistachio has a strong nutty flavor. Consequently, the pistachio gelato is not sweet like the pistachio flavor is in spumoni ice cream.
Florentine Steak: If you like steak, you will want to try the Florentine steak. The steak is cooked rare to medium rare. Therefore, you do not ask them to cook it well done. That is “not a thing” when it comes to Florentine steak. So, you will notice a drastic flavor difference in the seasoning, the way it is cooked, and they present it beautifully at the table. We ate at ‘Mamma Mia’s Ristorante Pizzeria’ in Florence and my husband said this was the best steak he has ever had. Since he eats steak often, that is truly saying something!
Specifically, we ate the ‘Florentine Special,” which was ham and stracchino cheese with fried bread, Florentine T-bone steak, and baked potatoes. In fact, in Italian, the main course was listed as: Bistecca alla fiorentina alla griglia con patate al forno (Grilled T-bone steak with baked potatoes). The steak came out sizzling with the meat cut away from the T-bone already surrounded by the potatoes. It was a beautiful moment for a foodie and you could smell the steak as the waitress approached the front dining room with it!
Dessert: Sicilian Cannoli from Gino’s Bakery near Ponte Vecchio stone bridge in Florence. Just so you are aware, this is the best cannoli in Florence! They had different options for cannolis, but pictured above is the Sicilian cannoli with ricotta cheese and chocolate chips- utter perfection!
So, Pisa sounds like it would be a great place to eat pizza based on all the jokes and memes. This is not really the place to eat great pizza.. Let’s save that for Naples and Cinque Terre.
Quick bite: I Porci Comodi has mouthwatering deli sandwiches. If you take a quick stop in Pisa just to see the leaning tower, this is a great stop off for lunch. We grabbed a deli sandwich and went to the park across the street to eat. The bread, meat and cheese all tasted very fresh. Pictured above is a panino with salami, pecorino cheese, and extra virgin olive oil. The lunch was so worth the walk from the leaning tower and a nice little rest before getting back on the train! As you can imagine, this is a very popular deli with only daytime hours. In fact, you may want to check the hours that day before making the trek.
Pesto: Pesto Ligure on Italian bread in Manarola and Pizza with pesto and fresh basil at ‘Pizzeria da Ely’ in Monterossa. Just look at how green the pesto is above. By all means, you can tell how fresh it is and how close you are to the source of the fresh basil used to make the pesto! You will not be disappointed!
Gelato: This was the best gelato that I had in Italy!! Actually, let me correct that. This was the best gelato that I have had in my life. This is the kind of gelato that you find yourself thinking about every time you go to a new gelateria because you want to find something similar. The cone pictured above has one scoop of local honey with walnut flavor and a scoop of Nutella gelato.
The Nutella gelato alone was sweet, chocolatey, slightly nutty, and delicious.. But, add it together with the honey and walnut flavor, just wow!! There are no words to describe how amazingly this flavor combination awakens your senses! In case you visit Corniglia, this amazing gelato was found at Gelateria Corniglia.
Tuscany- On the Road Food
Pastries: Superfarcita Bigusto Nutella and Crema and Bombolone Farcito from ‘Autogrill.’. Superfarcita Bigusto was a croissant with Nutella and pistachio custard in it. Bombolone Farcito was similar to a donut with pistachio custard inside. Both of these pastries were tasty for quick bites from a gas station. In fact, the pastries tasted like something you would find at an Italian bakery.
Cacio e pepe: This is a very popular dish in Rome, which literally means ‘cheese and pepper’ (black pepper). This is a wonderful flavor combination for most foodies and some restaurants place a cheese crisp for plating. Also, the cheese crisp has a great taste. Now, if you do not like black pepper on your food, then you will want to skip this dish as you will definitely taste the black pepper.
Dessert: Limoncello cake at La Taverna Madonna Dei Monti. The food at the restaurant left a lot to be desired, but this cake was a delicious, sweet ending to the meal. The restaurant also had a sweet wine similar to Moscato, which also is rare to find in Italy.
Pizza Margharita at Pizzeria Imperatore 1906. In Naples, you have to try the pizza. Of course, everyone says that pizza as we know it today originated in Naples. So, this would be a no brainer for any tourist. For such a simple looking pizza, pizza margharita has so much pure Italian flavor and you should definitely try it at least one time in Italy.
We did not wait outside in line for an hour or more like many tourists were doing at L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele. Pizzeria Imperatore 1906 has great reviews and for good reasons. The environment is beautiful with a great lunch or dinner atmosphere. In fact, the pizza is flavorful and we did not have a long wait to get in or get our food. If I did it again, personally I would skip the donut dessert as it just did not fit the bill for our sweet palate.
Pizza Fritta: Pizza Fritta is a fried pizza. It is not the same as a calzone. The outside crust of the pizza fritta is not the same texture or taste as a calzone. In contrast, the texture of the pizza fritta is softer and more flexible. You need to at least try the pizza fritta because you are in Naples, Italy. The pizza fritta was not my favorite, but many people do love it.
There are so many different regions in Italy and different foods to try out. If you are a pasta lover or pizza connoisseur, then there are dishes for you. If you are a dessert or pastry fanatic, then there are plenty of delicious options for you. Italy also has many different drink options like coffee, cappuccino, limoncello, vino/wine, etc. to try out. To find out the Best Restaurant Tips for Your Trip to Italy visit my recent blog post.