Ever wonder why there is something “Italian” in almost every restaurant you visit? Whether you are in the US, in Germany, in Saudi Arabia, or in the Philippines, you are sure to find a number of restaurants that serve Italian spaghetti or pizza. Italian cuisine is well-accepted and loved around the world that restaurateurs include several Italian dishes in their menu.
Whether you visit an authentic Italian restaurant or go to a cafe that claims to be one, you are sure to find a risotto dish, a pasta, a pizza, or all three in their menu. To help you choose which Italian flavor to savor, familiarize yourself with the varieties of authentic Italian cuisine.
Risotto is a creamy rice dish cooked in broth, butter, and cheese. There are several variations of this dish as it can be made with different kinds of wine, meat, fish, legumes, vegetable, and even fruit. Among the more popular variations are:
- Risi e Bisi, a classic Venetian rice and peas dish made with green peas, stock, and pancetta
- Risotto con tartufo bianco, another version in Piedmont, made with shavings of white truffles
- Black risotto, this dish from Venice is made with cuttlefish and their ink-sacs
- Risotto alla Milanese, risotto made with beef stock and beef bone marrow, Parmesan cheese, lard instead of butter, and colored with saffron
Pasta also comes in a diverse variety depending on the shape, width, and length, and the sauce that comes with it.
- Spaghetti – thin round rods, most popular kind
- Penne – medium length tubes cut diagonally at both ends
- Linguine – flattened spaghetti
- Fusili – short cut pasta, looks like swirls
- Lasagne – wide sheets
- Rigatoni –large, curved tubes or cylinders
Among the popular sauces are:
- Bolognese sauce – meat sauce made from beef, pancetta, onions, celery, tomato puree, dry wine
- Pesto sauce – garlic, basil, pine nuts, olive oil, Parmesan cheese
- Arrabbiata – garlic, tomato, olive oil, red chili peppers
- Amatriciana – tomato, cured pork cheek (guanciale) or bacon, olive oil, Pecorino Romano cheese
- Carbonara – eggs, pancetta, cheese, fat (butter, cream, or olive oil)
- Alla Carrettiera – spicy tomato sauce made with tomato and peperoncini hot ppeppers
- Puttanesca – a tangy and salty sauce made with olive oil, tomato, olives, capers, garlic
- Pomodoro – pomodoro is tomato in Italian, this sauce is made with fresh tomatoes, olive oil, and basil
- Alla Norma – a Sicilian cuisine made with tomatoes, basil, eggplant, and cheese
- Aglio Oglio – a very light sauce made with garlic in olive oil
And of course there’s the pizza. Among the more popular pizza variations are:
- Capricciosa – black and green olives, artichokes, mushroom, tomato and mozzarella cheese
- Margherita – mozzarella cheese and tomato
- Siciliana – olive, anchovies, capperi, mozzarella cheese and tomato
- Quattro Formaggi – four kinds of cheese
- Boscaiola – mushroom, sausage, mozzarella cheese
While Italian food is rich and succulent in taste and aroma, Italian cooking is simple and straightforward. They focus more on the flavors of each ingredient and not so much on the preparation of the dish. No wonder Italian food can be found anywhere you go – their dishes are simply perfect for degustation. For us who find food as a celebration of life, we will truly be smitten by Italian gastronomy as much as we are charmed by the country’s rich culture and history.
Find a Local Restaurant