According to an international survey conducted by YouGov, Italian food is the most popular kind of food in the entire world among those from many different nations. It beat out Mexican, Chinese, Spanish, and Japanese food handily.
Americans, in particular, love Italian food in a major way. There is seemingly a pizza shop on every corner in this country that serves up a blend of both pizza and classic Italian food. There is also no shortage of Italian catering companies in the U.S.
If you're a huge fan of Italian food, you probably know where to get the best Italian food in your area. You also likely have a few favorite Italian dishes that you turn to time and time again.
But to enjoy a fuller Italian food experience, you should expand your palate and try some new Italian dishes that you may not have tried before. Here are seven classic Italian dishes that everyone needs to try at least once in their lives.
1. Pizza Napoletana
Pizza is a big part of the reason why Americans love Italian food so much. Surveys have suggested that almost 75% of people in this country would eat pizza for every single meal if they could.
But despite this, many Americans haven't ever had pizza Napoletana, which is also often referred to as Neapolitan pizza. There are only a few very basic ingredients used to make Neapolitan pizza, including mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and basil. But there are some very strict guidelines that must be followed when making this particular type of pizza.
These guidelines govern everything from the diameter of a Neapolitan pizza to the time it must be cooked. It all helps to make Neapolitan pizzas some of the tastiest pizzas around.
There are also many other types of pizza that you should try if you love pizza as much as the average American does. A pizza catering company like Bella Roma can set you up with various types of pizza through the use of a mobile-wood-fired pizza oven.
2. Risotto Alla Milanese
Rice might not necessarily be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about classic Italian dishes. But the northern parts of Italy provide the country with great conditions for growing rice, which is why so many Italian dishes feature rice in them.
Risotto alla Milanese, which originated from Milan, is one of these dishes. The rice in this dish is bright yellow thanks to the saffron that's incorporated into it, and it also contains butter, onions, and even wine to give it a very creamy texture. It'll be delicious both on its own and when it's paired with something like a tender veal cutlet.
3. Osso Buco Alla Milanese
More often than not, osso buco alla Milanese will feature very tender meat that comes from the hind shank of a calf. This meat will be browned first and then braised in a saute that contains everything from carrots, celery, and onions to tomatoes and white.
This dish will also include a bone with delicious bone marrow inside of it that will require you to use a special fork to get to it. Osso buco alla Milanese is sometimes served with the previously-mentioned risotto alla Milanese, and it's known for being one of the most filling Italian dishes around.
People sometimes forget that Italy is surrounded by water for the most part, which helps to explain why so much seafood is found in Italian dishes. Bottarga, or "Mediterranean caviar" as it's sometimes called, is one of the seafood-based Italian dishes worth trying.
It's made from fish roe that has been salted, cured, pressed together, and then allowed to air dry. Bottarga can be enjoyed on its own, but it can also be grated and sprinkled over the top of certain kinds of pasta if you'd like to go in that direction.
Whatever the case, the salt from the fish roe will really give bottarga a whole lot of flavor and make it different from any other seafood that you've ever eaten.
Bottarga is far from the only Italian dish that includes seafood in it. Baccalà is another popular Italian seafood dish that will tickle your taste buds with its salty greatness.
Baccalà is a dish containing cod that has been both salted and dried to give it even more flavor than it would have otherwise. You can make it in many different ways, such as poaching it with garlic and then whipping it with olive oil to create a spread or cooking it with a combination of basil, garlic, and tomatoes.
6. Ragù Alla Bolognese
Spaghetti and meatballs is one of the first Italian dishes that most people think of when they're picturing Italian food in their heads. But it's worth noting that spaghetti and meatballs is an Italian-American dish that doesn't really have its roots in Italy.
There are, however, several Italian dishes that seem as though they may have inspired someone to come up with spaghetti and meatballs. Ragù alla Bolognese is one of them.
Ragù alla Bolognese features flat egg noodles topped with a ragù that is made using minced meat, pancetta, carrots, celery, onions, tomatoes, milk, wine, and salt and pepper.
7. Melanzane Alla Parmigiana
While you might not be all that familiar with many of the classic Italian dishes listed here, this is one you know by name. It's called Melanzane alla Parmigiana in Italy, but here, it's known as eggplant Parmesan.
Melanzane alla Parmigiana has either fried or grilled eggplant in it along with a sauce containing tomatoes and basil and cheese. In the U.S., Parmesan cheese is usually used in eggplant Parmesan, but traditional recipes call for it to feature mozzarella or Pecorino cheese in many cases.
No matter which type of cheese is found in Melanzane alla Parmigiana, it's a true classic in every sense of the word. It's become one of the most popular Italian dishes in both the U.S. and Italy.
Love Italian Food? Let Us Cater Your Next Event
Is all of the Italian food that we've listed here making your mouth water? If so, you're more than welcome to stop by Bella Roma today to grab a bite to eat.
We also invite you to take a look at the catering options that we can provide. We can set you up with pizza catering or Italian catering featuring all the most delicious Italian dishes.
Contact us now to speak with someone about our catering services.