What is the best Italian food? 8 delicious meals that aren’t pizza or pasta

04 Jan 2021



Twisted: Unserious food tastes seriously good.

Unilaterally declaring what is the best Italian food is like choosing your favourite child. Whichever way you turn, something worthy is going to be neglected.

Given the difficult choices available, it can be easy to opt for a stone-cold classic. However, as it turns out, eating in Italy is a whole lot more complicated than choosing between pizza and pasta.

Best Italian food [[imagecaption|| The best Italian food isn’t necessarily pizza or pasta (Credit: Alamy/Radharc Images)]]

What is the best Italian food?

To help you shake things up on your next ristorante visit, we’ve put our heads together to come up with the best Italian food that isn’t pizza or pasta.

READ MORE: Where to find the best pizza in New York

Though some of these dishes might be a little unusual, there’s no doubt that they’re still seriously delicious.

Here are eight tasty treats that you might not know about.

Arancini balls [[imagecaption|| Arancini is a great way to use up leftover risotto (Credit: Alamy/Brent Hofacker)]]

1. Arancini

Next to pizza and pasta, risotto is perhaps Italy’s best-known carb. While the classic rice recipe is undoubtedly delicious, one snack that often sneaks under the radar is its less glamorous cousin, arancini.

A deep-fried ball of risotto rice stuffed with cheese, this unsung hero of Italian cuisine is a handy way to use up tasty leftovers and enjoy a bite-sized treat.

Turrón best Italian food[[imagecaption|| Turrón is a traditional Italian treat (Credit: Alamy/Martin Rettenberger)]]

2. Turrón

With all the great savoury options on the Italian dinner table, it’s easy to neglect dessert. However, as this dish proves, that would be a grave mistake.

To make turrón, squares of honey, egg white and sugar are sprinkled with nutty chunks of pistachio, forming a street food sweet that certainly proves Italians know how to handle pudding.

Osso Bucco [[imagecaption|| Osso Bucco is a traditional Milanese stew (Credit: Alamy/MBI)]]

3. Osso Bucco

Wherever you go, cooks will be doing something delicious with slow-cooked meat. Few dishes demonstrate this technique better than Italy’s legendary veal shank stew, Osso Bucco.

READ MORE: 7 rare food allergies you never knew existed

To make Osso Bucco, cooks will braise a cross-cut veal shank in white wine for several hours. The whole thing is then served alongside a steaming bowl of risotto.

Panelle street food[[imagecaption|| Panelle is a very traditional Sicilian street food (Credit: Alamy/Angela Maria Benivegna)]]

4. Panelle

For a country so full of phenomenal restaurants, Italy’s street food scene is perhaps surprisingly vibrant. Another example of great regional street cooking are panelle, Palermo’s answer to fritters.

These squares of chickpea flour are often flavoured with salt and cheese before being deep-fried to a crisp. They are then eaten plain or between slices of fluffy local bread.

Cipollate con pancetta[[imagecaption|| Spring onions wrapped in bacon is another traditional Sicilian snack (Credit: Alamy/Rachel Husband)]]

5. Cipollate con pancetta

After a while, every culinary culture discovers that all things get better with added bacon. One of the simplest, yet tastiest recipes is the Sicilian favourite cipollate con pancetta.

To make cipollate con pancetta, whole spring onions are wrapped in salty pancetta before being grilled and served for a crunchy finish.

Brioche con gelato best Italian food[[imagecaption|| Brioche con gelato are essentially glorified ice cream sandwiches (Credit: Alamy/Frencesco Lorenzetti)]]

6. Brioche con gelato

Any country that can claim to have invented the ice cream sandwich immediately goes up in our estimation. What’s even more exciting, however, is the discovery that Sicilians eat it for breakfast.

Though fry ups are clearly awesome, it seems as though they face some stiff competition for the best way to wake up.

Cannoli best italian food[[imagecaption|| Cannoli are another popular Sicilian sweet treat (Credit: Alamy/Amy Robertson)]]

7. Cannoli

Made famous by the Godfather, these deep-fried, cream-filled tubes of crisp pastry thoroughly deserve their status as a pop culture icon.

The cannoli was first perfected in Sicily but has since gone on to conquer the whole of Italy with a variety of stunning flavours.

canederli dumplings[[imagecaption|| Canederli dumplings are a typical south tyrolean dish (Credit: Alamy/Anna q)]]

8. Canederli

No stew is complete without a dumpling and Italian winter warmers are no different.

To make canderli, cooks create a blend of bread, cheese and salty ham, before boiling in beef or chicken broth for a deep savoury flavour.

READ MORE: Twisted chefs reveal how to really cook pasta

Few countries can boast as a rich a culinary history as Italy. Because of this, it’s unsurprising that certain foods have gone on to capture the public’s imagination.

However, as this list proves, to ignore whatever else the country has to offer would be foolish in the extreme. When it comes to the best Italian food, there’s a lot more than meets the eye. 


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