Italy eats – 20 iconic regional dishes

Approx read: 4 mins

Wondering what areas to visit in Italy for the ultimate food experience?

Well, here’s an overview of 1 great dish from each of Italy’s 20 regions.

Maybe this will get your taste buds tingling, your stomach rumbling and packing your bags.


Agnello cacio e ove (lamb with cheese and eggs). A unique dish hailing from Abruzzo, it’s kind of a lamb carbonara traditionally eaten over the Easter period.


Làgane with olive oil and chickpeas is a perfect example of this region’s dishes. Wide strips of pasta (làgane), tossed in olive oil and garlic and served with chickpeas. Apparently, the recipe can be traced back to over 2500 years. Let’s hope the pasta’s not quite that old!

pasta Italy eats — 20 iconic regional dishes Laura Wallwork


Macaroni with pork, eggplant and salted ricotta. A recipe that combines many of the South’s classic elements. The pork is generally sprinkled with chilli to give it a kick and the salted ricotta gives the dish a salty taste.

Campania (Naples)

Carbs in Campania. Yep, the home of pizza, the white flour type! Pizza Napoletana is cooked in a wood-burning dome oven. Topped with only tomato sauce, cow’s milk mozzarella and one or two other simple toppings of choice. No, one of them is not pineapple!!!!!

Emila-Romagna (Bologna)

The home of baked lasagne. Layers of flat sheet pasta, a meaty tomato sauce and rich béchamel. Need I say more?

bay Italy eats — 20 iconic regional dishes Laura Wallwork

Friuli Venezia Giulia

The region has a very particular cuisine due to it having been a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Goulash Triestino is a goulash made with Hungarian paprika, among other ingredients. But to make it truly Italian – herbs such as rosemary, thyme, marjoram, oregano, and bay leaves are used.

Lazio (Rome)

Abbacchio alla cacciatora (Roman lamb stew). Chopped lamb cooked in garlic, sage and rosemary, then seasoned with salt-cured anchovies. A very old traditional recipe from this region.

fish Italy eats — 20 iconic regional dishes Laura Wallwork

Le Marche

A seafaring region and home to brodetto all’Anconetana (spicy fish stew). Designed to be packed with whatever fishermen catch that day. It was originally a dish made on board fishing boats for lunch.

Liguria (Genoa)

Basil pesto of course. Genoa is the home of this awesome pasta sauce. Fresh basil, garlic, rich olive oil, parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts are all it takes to make this infamous sauce.

Lombardy (Milan)

Lombardy, home of risotto. The first recipe identifiable as risotto dates from 1809. It includes rice sautéed in butter, bone marrow, and onions in broth with saffron added. Today’s Risotto alla Milanese is almost identical, though the bone broth is usually swapped out for chicken broth.


One of the least known regions of Italy, a neighbour of Abruzzo and a sheep farming area. In Molise, almost every part of the animal is eaten. Torcinelli is stuffed lamb intestines filled with carrots, onions, and parsley and grilled whole over coals.

garlic Italy eats — 20 iconic regional dishes Laura Wallwork

Piedmont (Turin)

A garlic and anchovy dip called Bagna Càuda. A simple warm dip made with 3 ingredients: garlic, anchovies, and extra-virgin olive oil. Served with cooked vegetables, such as baked onions, fried pumpkin, and roasted peppers for dipping.


The South’s breadbasket. Wheat and olive oil are produced here, making it a great region for vegetarians. Orecchiette con cime di rapa is a recipe of small “ear-shaped” pasta made from water, flour and durum wheat semolina and tossed in oil and a type of broccoli.


Fregola is semolina pasta shaped into tiny little balls. Often served with meat or fish sauces. Among the most popular recipes are fregola with clams or fregola with sausage.

oil Italy eats — 20 iconic regional dishes Laura Wallwork


Pasta con le sarde (Pasta with Sardines) is an Arab-influenced Sicilian dish. Made with bucatini (hollow pasta tubes) served al dente with fresh sardines, raisins, pine nuts, wild fennel and saffron.

Trentino-Alto Adige

Like Friuli Venezia Giulia this region was also part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. So strudel is their particular dish. Apples, pine nuts, raisins and spices wrapped in pastry is the standard recipe.


Gnudi with ricotta and spinach (“naked” ravioli). Basically ravioli without the pasta, so it’s just filling. Made with ricotta, flour, egg and spinach and dressed with olive oil, sage and some tasty pecorino cheese.

truffle Italy eats — 20 iconic regional dishes Laura Wallwork


Truffles, truffles, truffles. Yep, they are one of my favourite food items EVER! Try the tagliatelle with truffles. Simple fresh pasta strands with grated parmigiano and a mountain of truffle. Black truffle or the highly prized white truffle, it doesn’t matter. Just give me truffles (snort, snort).

Valle d’Aosta

Carbonade Valdostana is a beef stew cooked in red wine and served on a bed of polenta. The food from this region is hearty and warm to keep you going on cold days on ski slopes or up mountain trails.

Veneto (Venice)

Believe it or not, the main traditional dish here is Risi e bisi (rice and peas). It’s kind of like risotto but much wetter. A vegetable broth made from a simple base of onion and pancetta with peas and rice.

Whatever regions you visit, or indeed if you manage all 20 I’ll be jealous! Beware, you are sure to indulge, add a few pounds and come back with fresh inspiration for your kitchen. Don’t forget to send us an invite if you do practice some of your culinary skills.  

Buon appetito!

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