What do you order when you come to Italy for the first time? Surely, the famous from Hollywood movies Pasta with Meatballs, Spaghetti alla Bolognese or Pizza Pepperoni. Well before you make this mistake and embarrass yourself in the eyes of Italians who indeed do take food very very seriously, read this post where you will find the fake Italian dishes you should forget about and those that you should order instead.
Spaghetti with Meatballs is almost an oxymoron in Italy as meatballs is a separate dish, served as a “Secondo Piatto”. The italian “polpette” will never be put together with spaghetti, so if you do find this dish in an Italian restaurant – Run Away.
Ask for garlic break in a restaurant in Italy and you will get an empty stare back. Italians would never offer bread full of butter and garlic, giving preference to almost tasteless bread without any extras in it. In general you will very rarely find butter in any Italian recipe.
Every region in Italy has its own traditions when it comes to making pizza. In the capital you will find thin, crunchy pizza whereas in Naples the locals prefer softer textures and often stuffed crusts. Neapolitan pizza stuffed with ricotta is to die for! However, not in any corner of Italy will you find Pizza Pepperoni as you know it. In the best case, the pizzaiolo will gladly make you a pizza with peppers.
Now that you know what not to order, I would like to share with you some of my favourite traditional Italian dishes. First of all try fresh Mozzarella di Bufala, especially if you are in the South of the country. Secondly try as many types of cured meat as you possible can. Enjoy the fresh fruit and vegetables, trying to avoid touristy markets such as Campo de’ Fiori as they will rip you off simply because you are not Italian. My favourite dish of all time is Melanzane alla Parmigiana, which originates from the North of the country. If you are in Rome, after tasting the well known Italian dishes, go for the Roman specialties to really feel the flavour of the eternal city. Here are some of my suggestions: Trippa alla Romana, Coda alla Vaccinara, Rigatoni con la Pagliata, Pasta alla Gricia and Cacio e Pepe.
Do try Limoncello everywhere you go as the taste varies from place to place, but please do not drink it as a shot ( I am definitely guilty of doing so), just slowly enjoy the wonderful taste of this digestive liquor.