Restaurants in Italy
Italian food culture is truly something to behold.
Families gather nightly over the dinner table, laid with dish after dish of incredibly flavorful food.
Couples linger for an hour or two (or three!) at a table for lunch before going back to work in the late afternoon.
While Italian coffee is drunk standing up at a bar in one go, Italian
food is something to be relished, to be savored slowly; because of this,
even the most food-loving Italian tends to be at a healthy weight.
Dinners are late affairs, going from 8 or 9 p.m. to the wee hours of the morning, particularly on the weekend.
And of course, what meal would be complete without a glass of heart-healthy vino rosso?
Sweets are eaten in moderation, with the exception of course of the
ever-present gelato, lighter and made with less dairy than ice cream.
Restaurants in Italy
Foods in Italy
While the food varies greatly from the north to the south of Italy,
there are many staples of Italian cuisine that are found throughout the
- Extra virgin olive oil - on every restaurant table, in every kitchen, this oil is the foundation of Italian cooking.
Virgin oil is extracted without any chemicals in the production, making it one of the least refined healthy fats.
- Pasta - from semolina flour noodles to egg noodles, from
tight corkscrews to plump ravioli, pasta is a basic that tastes far
from basic when done right.
Italians cook it al dente, literally "to the tooth", meaning that the texture is slightly firm rather than soft or soggy.
It is then lightly coated in olive oil, salt, and pepper after it is cooked, regardless of the sauce to follow.
- Cheese - cheese is a fundamental part of Italian food, and the varieties are endless.
Typical Italian cheeses are hard cheeses such as parmigiano Reggiano
or pecorino. They are widely used in Roman cooking in particular, while
softer goat or sheep's cheeses can be found especially in the north.
- Salumi - the Italian term for cured meats, this covers everything from prosciutto to coppa to pancetta.
These meats can be served as antipasti, or as elements of a main
dish. They are often paired with cheeses or fruit, such as the
omnipresent Roman dish of prosciutto e melone, sections of cantaloupe
wrapped in the thinnest slices of prosciutto.
- Wine - an important part of the culture in Italy.
Most restaurants in Italy serve a vino di tavolo or "table wine" that is
an economical option for everyday meals, while a fancier evening out
might be accompanied by several bottles of nice Italian wine, selected
to pair well with the chosen food.
- Coffee - what trip to Italy would be complete without an
espresso drunk standing at the bar, surrounded by businessmen and
Restaurants in Italy listed in our Directory:
If you own a Mediterranean restaurant and want to get listed in our FREE Directory, click here.
Typical dishes of Italy
- Bagna cauda - a creamy sauce made of whipped garlic,
anchovies, and sardines, bagna cauda can be served atop crostini or
vegetables, or otherwise used as a dip.
- Bruschetta - crisp bread, coated in olive oil, rubbed with garlic, and topped with chopped tomato, mushrooms, or olives.
Restaurants in Italy - Italian Bruschetta with cheese and dry tomatoes
- Carpaccio di manzo - the most thinly sliced raw beef, most
often served with olive oil, squeezed lemon, capers, and arugula. Can
also be made with fresh salmon.
- Carciofi alla Giudia - a Roman specialty, these Jewish-style artichokes are trimmed, twice fried until crispy, and eaten in their entirety.
- Insalata caprese - the unparalleled combination of
tomato, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil, topped with olive oil (and
somewhat less frequently balsamic vinegar).
PIATTI - first dish - usually pasta or risotto
- Aglio e olio - one of the simplest and most delicious ways to serve pasta is with garlic and olive oil.
- Amatriciana - a tomato-based sauce made with pancetta and pecorino, this is a delicious improvement on your basic tomato sauce.
- Arrabiata - literally "angry," this tomato sauce is spiked with red chili peppers and garlic.
- Burro e salvia - simple, savory accompaniment of butter and sage.
- Cacio e pepe - this delightfully simple Roman dish involves only three ingredients: Pecorino cheese, olive oil, and cracked black pepper.
- Carbonara - a creamy sauce for pasta made with egg, cheese, pancetta or guanciale, and pepper.
- Puttanesca - a bit of a scandalous dish…literally "like a
whore," this dish is made with tomatoes, olives, capers, and garlic,
and is very typical in Southern Italy.
- Risotto - a creamy short grain rice dish cooked in
broth, risotto can be prepared in many ways. Can be made with
vegetables, meat, or seafood; sometimes served with truffle oil or
- Spaghetti alla vongole - a pleasing concoction from Venice, spaghetti with clams can be made with or without tomatoes.
- Gnocchi - these little clouds of potato are pure heaven
when done just right. They can be served with tomato sauce or cream
sauce, and melt right in your mouth.
Restaurants in Italy - Gnocchi
PIATTI - second dish, usually meat
- Cinghiale - wild boar, often marinated alla cacciatore in a
wine sauce or other strong marinade, can be roast, stewed, or grilled.
Wild boar can be quite delicate when young, but the older the animal,
the gamier the taste (similar to lamb).
- Costata di manzo alla brace - barbecued rack of ribs.
Rather served "all'Americana" covered in barbecue sauce, these ribs are
rubbed with herbs and served.
- Filetto di manzo - a fillet of beef, with various accompaniments, often graces Italian food menus, and is often grilled or pan-seared.
- Piccata di pollo - delicious, tangy chicken dish made with capers in a light lemon cream sauce.
- side dishes, often vegetables
- Cavoletti di Bruxelles - doesn't that sound nicer than
Brussels sprouts? These little sprouts are halved and then browned,
sometimes served with a squeeze of lemon or with pancetta. Not to be
- Grigliata di verdure - mixed grilled vegetables, served with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and herbs.
- Insalata mista - a simple side of mixed greens is a staple on every Italian menu.
And of course, when we speak of the restaurants in Italy, we must not forget the Italian pizza.. mmmm.. jummy!
Restaurants in Italy - Italian Pizza
Return from Restaurants in Italy page to Directory of Mediterranean Restaurants
Return to Mediterranean Diet Home Page