Food Italy is Most Famous For
Italy is famous for their food all over the world and no matter what country you’re in you can almost definitely find an Italian Restaurant in every urban area across the globe. Italy’s food was created from simple ingredients and spices and blended together to create dishes that are known everywhere, such as spaghetti, lasagna, pizza, fettucini, and many more dishes everyone knows and loves and especially enjoys here in Manhattan. Hell’s Kitchen has some of the best Italian restaurants in the U.S. and possibly the entire planet.
The staples of Italy can be broken down and categorized into a few main categories and we’re going to cover 5 in this article.
There are so many incredible meals to choose from in Italy that labeling these tasty Italian dishes as just “pasta” hardly does them justice, plus there is a wide range of pasta dishes and all are prepared with their own unique recipes. Wherever you go, try to enjoy the local classics; there’s a reason they’re well-liked. These dishes range from straight forward spaghetti carbonara in Rome to delicious seafood pasta in Sicily. The traditional Italian dishes can differ depending on what region of Italy you have a taste for, usually separated by southern and northern flavors.
Su Filindeu, which translates to “threads of the gods” is probably the rarest type of pasta there is and can only be found off the coast of Italy to the west on an island called Sardinia. The pasta is rare due to the way it is made and it’s assumed that there are only 10 people alive that actually know how to make it! It’s a fairly simple dish in terms of ingredients (water, semolina wheat and salt), but the process is a very specific technique and can only be done over time and by hand. If you’re ever in Sardinia make sure you find a restauran that is service Su Filindeu, it’s totally worth it!
The most famous staple in Italy is probably the Pizza and it’s been a major part of their culture for centuries. Italian Pizza is much different than the pizza served at most places in America. Get rid of the thick doughy crust you’re used to because true pizza from Italy usually bakes their dough to be thin, soft, and fluffy and any real pizza chef knows it’s a type “00” flour used to make the dough.
Usually the pizza is stone baked or cooked in a wood-fire oven and only the freshest ingredients are used such as fresh vine grown tomatoes being used for the sauce and possible tomato toppings. After the tomatoes it’s typically fresh basil and mozzarella for a perfect Italian style pizza.
What’s also different about traditional Italian Pizza is the way it’s enjoyed when it’s served as a meal. Typically you might order a pizza pie or 2…..or more, and everyone kinda shares the same pizza. In Italy, you’ll find it common for everyone at the table to have their own pizza pie and everyone will share with everyone. Almost the same concept as the way it’s shared here in America and New York City, but with a lot more pizza and many more options to choose from.
Prosciutto, Polenta and Cured Meats
There are many cured meats that are a huge addition of protein into the Italian diet. Meats such as prosciutto, pancetta, lardo, and speck are all meats that are cured and eaten regularly and have been a part of Italian tradition for decades. One thing all of the smoked meats have in common is that it all comes from some part of the pig, so if you’re not a fan of pork then you might want to avoid indulging in traditional Italian smoked meats. Prosciutto and speck both come from the hind leg and are both delicious and tender. It’s prosciutto with a smoky flavor basically. It’s the same meat just prepared a little differently. Prosciutto is probably the most popular Italian cured meat in the world and definitely here in New York City.
The chef’s at SESAMO are really particular when it comes to smoked or cured pork, so they only used the highest quality meats available in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC. If you haven’t had and chance to try pancetta yet, it should be on your things-to-eat list! The best way to describe this delicious cured meat is, it’s basically thin sliced bacon served raw. Usually pancetta is eaten like prosciutto, either wrapped around a vegetable or cheese.
Italy is approximately 400 miles across, traveling from coast to coast, so no matter where you are you can guarantee you’re getting some of the freshest seafood you’ve ever had in your life. Being that no matter where you are in Italy you’re less than 3 hours from the coast so there’s no guess as to why seafood and Italy are nearly synonymous.
Famous traditional Italian seafood dishes might include some of the delicious dishes listed below:
- Gamberi alla Busara
- Baccalà mantecato
- Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia
- Lemon and Shrimp Risotto
- Involtini di pesce spada
- Sicilian Stuffed Sardines
- Zuppa di Pesce
- Linguine all’astice
- Linguine alle Vongole
- Italian Seafood Salad
- Baccalà alla Livornese
- Seafood Fra Diavolo with Linguine
- Acqua pazza
There are probably 100 different ways to prepare and eat risotto, so lets just dive into a few of the basics. Risotto is very similar to rice and is basically a creamy rice dish with cheese to sum it up. Much of the sauce is created by cooking the rice different from how you’d prepare rice traditionally. You cook over a longer period of time and slowly add water so that the starches release and create a creamy sauce. Adding warm broth and cheese to your risotto, along with some aromatic herbs such as garlic can really provide you with a dish the entire family can enjoy.
If you plan on making risotto there you should try a few different types of rice before you become set on one style. Different types of rice present different results. Longer grain rice such as basmati tend to create a more fluffier rice that doesn’t stick together. Starchier rices tend to produce a much creamier sauce than rices like basmati. Most fine dining restaurant use carnaroli rice due to it being the starchiest rice of all and creating a really creamy sauce in the cooking process, so consider this when deciding which rice to choose.
Italian Food in Restaurants
Italian restaurants in New York usually include most of the above dishes on their menu or create delectable dishes from some of the food items listed above. If you’ve ever been to an Italian restaurant and there wasn’t a dish where pasta was an ingredient, you can blindly say that it wasn’t an Italian dining establishment.
In New York City there was a massive immigration influx in the 19th and 20th centuries and sometime during the early 1800s Italians began heading for New York. It’s estimated that from about 1820 to 1980 over 5 million Italian immigrants moved to New York, which is why Italian restaurants are a dime a dozen in New York city and it offers some of the best authentic Italian dishes in the world. When immigrants came they brought their delicious Italian recipes New Yorkers havegrown to love, so next time you’re around some of your italian friends make sure you thank them and their relatives for their contribution!