the top 10 Italian meals

Explore the top 10 Italian meals and famous Italian dishes. Dive into the world of traditional Italian food, from street food to the national dish of Italy, and discover why Italian cuisine is celebrated globally.

The Culinary Adventure Begins: Introduction to Italy’s Rich Food Heritage

Italy is a country that tantalises the senses, a land where the culinary experience is as rich and layered as its history. Italian cuisine, a vibrant tapestry of tastes and traditions, is a journey of discovery, with each region offering its unique flavours and culinary techniques. The heart of Italian food lies in its simplicity, using high-quality, fresh ingredients to create dishes that have stood the test of time. In this exploration, we delve into the top 10 Italian meals, a collection of the most famous Italian dishes that embody the spirit of traditional Italian food.

  1. Neapolitan Pizza
  2. Spaghetti Carbonara (Amatriciana, and Gricia)
  3. Arancini and Sicilian Street Food
  4. Florentine Steak
  5. Pasta al Pesto
  6. Lasagne Bolognese
  7. Parmigiana di Melanzane (Aubergine Parmigiana)
  8. Milanese Risotto and More
  9. Polpette al sugo – Meatballs with sauce
  10. Tiramisu

Neapolitan Pizza

No culinary tour of Italy would be complete without indulging in a classic Neapolitan pizza. Originating from Naples, this iconic dish features a thin, soft crust with a slightly charred edge, a result of the blazing hot wood-fired ovens in which it’s cooked. Topped with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, fresh basil, and a drizzle of olive oil, Neapolitan pizza is a testament to the philosophy of Italian cooking: simple ingredients, masterfully combined. Its fame as a national dish of Italy has spread far and wide, making it a must-try for any food enthusiast.

© Ciro Oliva – Concettina ai Tre Santi

Spaghetti Carbonara (but also Amatriciana and Gricia)

Spaghetti Carbonara, hailing from Rome, was popularised in the mid-20th centuryis not just a dish; it’s a creamy, comforting hug on a plate. Tossed with eggs, pecorino, jowl bacon, and pepper, it’s a testament to how simple ingredients create magic. Alongside Carbonara, other Roman pastas like Amatriciana and Gricia are equally celebrated. Amatriciana, with its tomato-based sauce and crispy guanciale, and Gricia, a simpler but no less delicious version of Carbonara without the eggs, are staples of traditional Italian food and among the best Italian food experiences.

Arancini and Sicilian Street Food

Arancini are deep-fried rice balls filled with ragu, peas, and molten cheese. Sicilian street food is a treasure trove of tastes, reflecting the island’s rich history and cultural diversity, and is a testament to the island’s rich culinary heritage.  In fact, in addition to the famous arancini, a traditional Sicilian dish, you must try the following

  • Pane e panelle: which is a sandwich stuffed with a fritter made from chickpea flour.
  • Cazzilli: that is, croquettes made of boiled potatoes, parsley, salt and pepper.
  • Pane ‘ca meusa: sandwiches stuffed with boiled spleen and lungs, which are then sautéed in lard

Florentine Steak

Florentine Steak is more than a meal; it’s a rite of passage. This thick, T-bone steak, grilled to smoky perfection, embodies the bold and rustic flavours of Tuscany. It is usually from the Chianina breed of cattle, known for its flavourful and tender meat.Cooked over a wood fire 7 minutes on each side until perfectly medium-rare, this steak is seasoned simply with salt, black pepper, and a touch of olive oil, letting the quality of the meat shine through.

Lasagne Bolognese

Lasagne Bolognese is a dish that needs no introduction. Originating from the region of Emilia-Romagna, this famous Italian dish is a layered masterpiece of pasta, Bolognese sauce (a slow-cooked meat sauce), béchamel sauce, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The result is a rich, comforting dish that is a staple of Italian family dining and a prime example of the best Italian food.

Pasta al Pesto

Originating from the lush Liguria region, famed for its vibrant basil, this dish combines perfectly al dente pasta with a rich, fragrant pesto sauce made from fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and extra virgin olive oil. The beauty of Pasta al Pesto lies in its simplicity, allowing the quality of the ingredients to shine through.  It’s a versatile dish that can be served with various types of pasta, but traditionally with trofie or linguine, offering a delectable experience that captures the heart of Italian cuisine. As a beloved dish both in Italy and around the world, Pasta al Pesto is a culinary masterpiece that exemplifies the art of Italian cooking at its finest.

Parmigiana di Melanzane (Aubergine Parmigiana)

Parmigiana di Melanzane is a testament to the versatility of vegetables in Italian cooking. Layers of aubergine, tomato sauce, and cheese, baked to a bubbly, golden-brown – it’s like a cosy, comforting blanket of flavours. Parmigiana di Melanzane is a southern Italian classic, particularly popular in Campania, Sicily, and Calabria. This dish layered sliced aubergines with tomato sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, and basil, then baked to perfection. The combination of the sweet, tender aubergines with the tangy tomato sauce and the richness of the cheese makes Parmigiana di Melanzane a beloved vegetarian option in the realm of traditional Italian food.

Milanese Risotto (but not only)

Risotto alla Milanese, a staple of Lombard cuisine, is a dish that showcases the simplicity and elegance of Italian cooking. Made with Arborio rice, saffron, broth, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, this risotto is creamy, rich, and bursting with flavour. But Milanese Risotto is just the beginning; Italy offers an array of risottos, each reflecting the flavours and ingredients of its region – a kaleidoscope of grains telling tales of Italian landscapes.

Polpette al sugo – Meatballs with sauce

Meatballs with sauce holds a cherished place as one of the pinnacle dishes of Italian cuisine, embodying the warmth and comfort associated with Italian home cooking. Originating from various regions across Italy, this dish typically features seasoned meatballs made from a blend of minced meats such as beef, pork, and veal, bound together with breadcrumbs, eggs, and a medley of herbs and spices. These succulent meatballs are then simmered in a rich, flavourful tomato-based sauce, often infused with garlic, onions, and aromatic herbs like basil and oregano. With its comforting aroma and hearty flavours, Meatballs with sauce has earned its place as a beloved classic in both Italian homes and international kitchens alike.

© Le Bistrot


Tiramisu, meaning ‘pick me up’, is a beloved Italian dessert originating from the Veneto region. Made with layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers, mascarpone cheese, cocoa, and sometimes a splash of liqueur, tiramisu is a delightful balance of rich and light, sweet and bitter – a perfect end to any Italian meal.