Cuisine of Italy by region


Situated in the north-east of Italy, it’s cuisine is strongly influenced by Austria, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia. The region is well known for it’s San Daniele del Friuli ham, Montasio cheese and Frico cheese. Smoked meats and game, accompanied by Gnocchi or Polenta, are typical of the region, as are stews, bean soups, goulash, sauerkraut and bacon……

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On the north-east coast you will find Veneto, home to Venice, where Risotto is found in many guises, made with fish and seafood along the coast and asparagus, pumpkin or other vegetables further inland. Polenta is a main dish here, as it is in most of the northern regions, and is often served with Porcini mushrooms. Peas and beans are also popular and found in many of the regional dishes. On menus you wil find “Risi e Bisi“rice and peas and “Pasta e Fagioli” pasta and beans. In the past Venice saw the import of many spices brought in by ships and these have had an influence on many of the exotic dishes and sauces of some of the cities favourite dishes. High quality red Radicchio,from Treviso and white asparagus from Soppressa Vicentina are grown here. A popular regional dessert is Tiramisu, which tastes absolutely fantastic made in true Italian style, Baicoli (vanilla biscuits) and nougat……

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In the far north of Italy,near the border with Austria, this region has a very strong Austrian influence in it’s cuisine, especially in the South Tyrol section. The Speck Alto Adige is a wonderful juniper-flavoured ham and is well worth looking out for. The Austrian influence brings Goulash, Knödel, Apfel Strudel, Kaiserschmarrn, Krapfen, Rösti, Spätzle as typical dishes to the region. In the Trentino section of this region you will find a selection of locally made Sausages, Polenta and Cheeses. Trento can also boast it’s very own variety of dwarf green bean named “Nano anellino di Trento“, green with black markings, these grow in abundance in the area…..

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West of Trentino and Veneto is Lombardy. Cattle are reared on the plains in the central and southern parts of the region and so meat features more in the dishes here, especially veal, a good example being “ossobuco alla milanese” veal shanks braised in white wine and “cotoletta alla milanese” similar to the Wiener schnitzel these are served with “risotto alla milanese” the well known creamy risotto flavoured with saffron. Bressaola (air-dried salted beef) comes from this region, and cheeses include Taleggio, Gorgonzola and Grana Padano. Many of the regions dishes will include maize or rice. The most famous regional dessert is the Panettone, normally eaten at Christmas time, it is baked with candied and dried fruits in a sweet bread dusted with icing sugar……..

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This small region at the tip of the north-west of Italy may be small but can boast some stunning foods. Smoked bacons and game from the forests and mountains go perfectly with Polenta or with local rye bread. This regional also produces excellent butter, cream and cheese such as the Fontina cheese, and Cheese Fondue is very popular here. Other products of the region include chestnuts, potatoes and rice……..

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Between the Alps and the Po valley lies Piedmont which offers a refined and varied cuisine. Piedmont grows fields of risotto rice and supplies 55% of the risotto rice used in Europe, most of it being Carnaroli rice. Risotto with a shaving of truffle is an excellent regional speciallity. Truffles are available in early winter, when the mists hang over the landscape giving it a sureal and beautiful quality, deals worth thousands of Euros will be done in the local market place in the early mornings. This region has the largest number of cheeses,”Castelmagno” being the most prized. The area itself offers a great variety of good food from nuts, mushrooms and truffles, to hunting and fishing bringing wonderful fare to the table. many of the pasta sauces and dishes will include chicken livers and these are really rich and delicious. Piedmont is famous for it’s high quality Carrù beef which is often served raw with garlic and lemon juice, also typical dishes of Piedmont are “Agnolotti” stuffed pasta parcels filled with either cheeses or meats and using very thin sheets of pasta and “Bagna Calda” a wonderful dish,translated as “hot bath”, it is made by mixing butter, olive oil, garlic and anchovies, heating thoroughly for 10 minutes and served with a variety of fresh vegetables to dip. Sweets from Piedmont are very popular and also well known, and from the area comes Nutella, Gianduiotto and Marron Glacé.One can also see the Austrian influence in their love of the Apfel Strudel……..

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Known as the Italian riviera, Liguria is bordered to the south by the sea and the mountains to the north which influences it’s cuisine. Seafood and fish are used extesively, with sardines, swordfish, tuna, white bream, sea bass and anchovies featuring in many dishes. A typical fish soup is “Ciuppin” which is served in two bowls, one for the broth and the other filled with fish, prawns and octopus fresh from the sea. Most of the fish and seafoods are cooked very simply using only oil, parsley and white wine. Liguria is also well known for it’s wonderful pesto, as basil grows here in profusion and is mixed with pine nuts, garlic, parmesan cheese and the Region’s own olive oil “Riviera Ligure“, made from olives grown from trees that cling to hills which drop down to the sea. Pesto is used to enhance many of the regional dishes and takes the place of the tomato based sauces of other regions. Chick-peas and chestnuts are used to make flour which is used to make some of the local breads such as “Farinata” (a flat chick-pea flour bread).The mountains produce foods such as mushrooms, truffles and chestnuts, also small fruits and berries. Rabbit and veal are popular meats of this region. Rabbit stew “Coniglio in Umbido” and rolls of veal “Tomaxelle” will be popular dishes found on the menu.”Trofie” will accompany Ligurian dishes or served with pesto become a meal on their own, they are Gnocchi made by hand and twisted to form a spiral. Ligurian dishes will include vegetables and herbs, especially marjoram. There are not many Ligurian desserts but they do make a sweet bread “Pandolce” with candied fruits and nuts and sweet pizzas with toppping that include Candied fruits, walnuts and chestnuts…..

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This is a gastronomical region which offers a vast array of wonderful foods to be sampled and delighted in, the mainstay of it’s dishes is it’s egg pasta and the many mouthwatering filled pastas. Green pasta made with spinach or chard are also popular in this region. Among the stuffed pastas we must mention Tortelli, Tortelloni and Cappelletti, filled with fine ingredients such as pork, ham,or Mortadella flavoured with Parmesan, nutmeg, spinach or Ricotta cheeses. Bologna is,of course, famous for it’s tomato and meat sauce “ragu’a la Bolognese” served with pasta or made into a classic lasagne. Although this is a region which borders the Adriatic sea there is not a heavy influence of fish the main dishes are based around meat, the region is famous for it’s “Prosciutto di Parma” which is salted and air-dried then aged in caves, sliced wafer thin on antipasti platters or wrapped around Grissini. Other meat products include varieties of Salamis, Pancetta, Salame Rosa and the wonderful Mortadella. Cheeses are also included in the cuisine of the region with Parmigiano Reggiano, “the king of cheeses“, produced in Reggio Emilia, Parma, Modena and Bologna and Grana Padano produced in Piacenza. Balsamic vinegars”Aceto Balsamico” are produced exclusively in Modena to the age old traditions that have been used for centuries.”Piadina” started out as peasant bread and has now become so popular it is found in kiosk stands being sold as a snack, it is a flat un-levened bread eaten hot and topped with cheese, meats (Salame, Mortadella, Prosciutto, Pancetta, Bresola ) or vegetables and folded over to eat, it is a famous iconic food of Romagna. Desserts of this region include “Zuppa Inglese” a trifle-like dessert and “Pampepato” a rich, dark cake popular at Christmas time and containing fruits, nuts, spices, pepper and dark chocolate….

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To see more regions of Italy go to page 3