What to eat in Italy? 10 Must-try Foods

Once you book your trip to Italy, you probably look for ways to make the most of it. And, of course, this includes food. While visiting famous landmarks is thrilling, that is not enough to feel the true Italian spirit. If you want to feel like a local, you need to act like a local. So, fine dining and knowing what to eat in Italy is a must. 

I suppose you already know some of the most popular Italian dishes. However, the dining choices do not start and finish with pasta. Namely, there are a variety of specialities you need to try once you land in this amazing country. So, let’s explore what to eat in Italy!


To experience Italy the right way, you need to start with the basics, meaning pizza. It is a type of food that is eaten worldwide, so many people are not really keen on the idea of trying Italian pizza. I will need to stop you right here because tasting pizza in the country of its origin is something you cannot miss. 

You will see what I am talking about when you have your first slice. Pizza in Italy is nothing like the one you have tasted in your country. Even though many restaurants claim they make genuine Italian speciality, you will spot the difference from the first bite. That is, you will notice that the crust is unique and the ingredients taste differently. And there is a variety of choices, but Neapolitan-style and Roman-style pizzas are foods in Italy you cannot miss out on trying!

Our recommendation for pizza? Thankfully, it’s very easy to find good pizza in Italy, but some of the more well-respected Nepoliatan pizzerias that have expanded to Rome, Milan and Bologna is Sorbillo.

Pizza | what to eat in italy | Italy Travel
Pizza | What to eat in Italy | Italy Travel

Another popular Italian dish known worldwide is carbonara. You cannot go to this country and not try their authentic pasta. When you try Italian pasta, you will forget about everything you have tried in the past. Italians pride themselves on homemade pasta and delicious sauces, such as carbonara. I am talking about a classic dish, but the way Italian chefs prepare it is not something you might be familiar with.

Carbonara originated in Rome and is a must-try if you are in the capital. Our suggestion is Osteria della Fortunata – here, you can see the pasta made by hand.

Carbonara | Italy Travel | Pasta
Florentine T-bone Steak 

When you try to figure out what to eat in Italy that is not pasta or pizza, go for meat dishes. If you are a fan of meat, then make sure you try the Florentine T-bone steak at least once during your stay. However, this is a speciality you can only try in certain regions of Italy, Tuscany being the most popular one. Since it is prepared uniquely, you should not expect to see it on every trattoria’s menu. It is made of the loin of a Chianina cow raised in Tuscany, so it is not strange that it is a rare dish. Nonetheless, you can find variations of Florentine steak in some restaurants across Italy.

Our recommendation? If you are in Florence, you should try Trattoria dall’Oste. You will not be disappointed. 

Florentine T-bone Steak | What to eat in Italy | Italy Travel

Among the must things to eat in Italy is polenta. Although this dish is often mistaken for grits Americans eat, it is essential to point out that it is a completely different one. Namely, polenta is basically corn mush without any specific texture or shape. However, it is the ideal side dish for meat, and Italians love it. 


Ossobuco is one of the rarest foods in Italy, mainly because of its preparation and cooking requirements. It is a recipe believed to come from Milan, but there are many variations, so you can find it in other Italian parts as well. Nonetheless, since this speciality requires 3 hours of cooking time, you cannot easily see it on the menus. Therefore, if you are lucky enough to come across it, you should not miss out on the opportunity to try it!


Italians are not only masters of pizza and pasta but bread as well. When thinking of things to eat in Italy, do not exclude different types of bread, especially focaccia. It is a type of flatbread, made of similar thick dough used for pizza. The focaccia is salty, drizzled with olive oil, and extremely delicious. You can eat it in a sandwich or dip it in olive oil, as the Italians do!. Either way, you are about to taste something heavenly! 


Among the foods in Italy you cannot miss out on is risotto. Although Italians do not eat a lot of rice, they are one of the biggest producers of it, and it is quite tasty! That said, when you get there, do not forget to indulge in it. One of the most popular rice dishes is risotto alla Milanese originating from Milan. It is regarded as the best risotto across the territory of Italy. However, other popular variations are risotto with cuttlefish and ink, as well as with peas and pancetta.


When thinking about what to eat in Italy, do not omit the famous gelato! Part of the experience of Italian travelling is enjoying the heavenly gelato everyone knows of. Even though gelato is often called ice cream, it is not the same thing. Namely, gelato contains less butterfat and is served warmer than ice cream. Hence the fast melting in the mouth. Moreover, it is characterised by higher density, so it is quite flavourful.

Gelato | Ice Cream | Italian Ice Cream

Tiramisu is a dessert you need to include in your list of things to eat in Italy. When you want to take a break from gelato, the second best thing is tiramisu. It is the perfect dessert you can have after a fine dinner. Tiramisu requires no baking and contains layers of mascarpone cheese and coffee-soaked ladyfingers. 


Although coffee is not something you eat, you must try it. Italians take great pride in their high-quality coffee and specific way of making it. In addition, they also have a specific method of drinking their coffee, so before you go, it might be useful to do some research. And do not expect to order your regular Starbucks beverages because you will not get what you get in an ordinary coffee shop. Therefore, if you are picky about your coffee, reading something about Italian coffee beforehand can help you out. When in doubt, nothing beats the traditional espresso!

Coffee | What to eat in Italy | Italy Travel | espresso
Coffee | What to eat in Italy | Italy Travel | espresso

Finding good Coffee is one of the easiest things you can do in Italy; for example, the photo on the right is from a supermarket chain called Iper. Final Tip: if you see the word “Torrefazione”, it means that the Cafe roasts its beans.

Before you set off for your travels, learning about foods in Italy you must try is a must. If you want to experience the country like a true local, you need to know how locals behave. And that kind of experience starts with delicious dishes and meals. 

If you are preparing to go to Italy, make sure you check out where you can get the must-try dishes.     


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