Savoury and sweet treats in food lover's Italy
Italy is foodie heaven, as we all know. But what we might not always come to think of is how every town in Italy has its very own food culture and signature dishes. Here are some of our favourites from Finnair's destinations cities.
For many foodies Milan equals Risotto Milanese, the velvety saffron induced dish, that is at the same time simple and luxurious. However, Milan even boasts many other risotto recipes that are equally delicious. There are risottos using pesto and potatoes, calamari, or artichokes, so everyone will find something to love. There are even restaurants focusing mainly on risotto such as Trattoria Da Abele Temperanza and Osteria Conchetta.
To satisfy your sweet tooth afterwards, round your meal off with a Barbajada. It is a mix of coffee and hot chocolate, topped with an impressive mountain of whipped cream and sweetened to taste. The drink reached its height in popularity in the 19th century, but even modern palates love it. You are most likely to find this concoction in one of the cities traditional and elegant cafés around Il Duomo.
Venice is well-known for its delicious seafood and Middle Eastern influences. One of the best dishes to combine these two is Sarde in Saor, a sweet and sour sardine starter. The sardines are marinated thoroughly, before being topped with raisins, pine nuts and onions
Another typical way to enjoy seafood is Fritto Misto, a selection of fresh ingredients lightly fried. Alongside fish and shellfish, you might get some courgette flowers, aubergine, pumpkin slices, or other seasonal vegetables. Some of the best Fritto Misto is rumored to be served from a humble street kitchen at Acqua et Mais for an incredibly affordable price.
Do not leave Verona without a taste of potato gnocchi. Traditionally gnocchi are eaten during the carnival season before Lent, but luckily you can find these fluffy pillows of goodness all year round nowadays. Gnocchi is usually served simply, in a pool of sage butter or tomato sauce, sometimes cheeses are added too.
Another carnival season treat, now available whenever sugar cravings strike, is Fritole. It is a sweet fried dumpling with rum-soaked raisins, covered in icing sugar. Some recipes add lemon zest or spices and there are even cream filled varieties. The texture of a Fritole is somewhere between a pancake and a doughnut.
Everyone who visits Rome surely eats their share of Cacio e Pepe (the cheesy and peppery pasta), Pizza al Taglio (pizza served in square slices everywhere) and Carbonara. What you might miss though is Suppli, the incredibly moreish rice croquettes, filled with mozzarella, breaded, and fried. Suppli is essentially a street food, perfect for eating on the move with a soft drink or a beer. Try Supplizio for a good selection of flavors.
Romans are very into their sweet pastries so make sure you visit the bakeries. In the morning the only right choice is a Cornetto, croissant's sweeter cousin. With your coffee or Vin Santo have some Tozzetti, or Roman biscotti. If you want something truly luxurious try Crostata Ricotta e Visciole, a pastry cake layered with ricotta and black cherry jam.
Bologna is proud of its status as one of Italy's main food cities. Some of the best ingredients come from in and around Bologna, from Mortadella sausage to balsamic vinegar. The dishes of Bologna are often meat heavy, such as Tagliatelle al Ragù Bolognese or Tortellini in Brodo, cheese and meat filled tortellini served in a hot broth). You can test both at Sfolgia Rina, an expert in fresh pasta.
Bologna is also a wine hotspot. One of the key wines to try is a Pignoletto, a light and fruity dry sparkling wine that typically has a lot of citrus notes. It goes well with antipasti, a cheese plate or seafood. Pignoletto is even said to be the next big wine– maybe even overtaking Prosecco.
We can't talk about Naples, without mentioning pizza. Margherita is still a favourite but you should eat your way through other versions too. A local specialty, rarely found elsewhere, is the Pizza Fritta, or fried pizza. It is essentially a stuffed pizza pocket filled with goodies such as ricotta, mozzarella, or pork crackling and fried.
Naples even has many lovely vegetable-based dishes, often stuffed whole vegetables similar to dishes found on the African side of the Mediterranean Sea. Try Peperoni Ripeni or Peperoni ‘mbuttunati, peppers stuffed with breadcrumbs or pasta and flavored with ingredients such as olives, anchovies, and pine nuts.