Italian Cuisine for Beginners: The Best Dishes to Try on Your First Visit to Italy


Italian cuisine is perhaps one of the most popular in the world. Many people think that it consists only of pizza and pasta, but if you visit Italy at least once, you will realize that in addition to the recognizable classics, they also have other types of wonderful food.

So take the opportunity when you are there to try authentic cuisine. However, pizza and pasta are everywhere – although we must admit that in Italy, they are on a completely different level.

If you travel to Italy in 2024, then these are the best dishes that you must try:

1. Classic Margherita pizza


No trip to Italy is complete without eating Margherita’s pizza at least once. It is a thin, airy dough enriched with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and fresh basil. Those who have tried this kind of pizza at least once say that there is no better one anywhere in the world, even though it is made from the simplest possible ingredients.

The colors of pizza Margherita are associated with the Italian flag – mozzarella for white, basil for green and tomato sauce for red. In fact, this combination of flavors is recognizable for all Italian dishes, such as Caprese salad.

Therefore, to feel the basis of Italian cuisine, start with a margarita and then continue with other wonderful specialties.

2. Focaccia

Focaccia is a delicious flatbread made from a soft dough that rises for hours. The preparation is complex because you must ensure all the ingredients are at the right temperature. Making dough using a spoon instead of kneading with your hands is best.

But the most interesting part is when the dough is risen and ready to be prepared. Transfer it to a baking pan with a lot of olive oil, make holes with your fingers, and cover it with more oil and coarse salt. Sometimes dried tomatoes, olives, or rosemary are added.

And the correct way to eat focaccia is to mix balsamic with olive oil in a bowl, season, and dip a piece of the focaccia to enjoy all those magical flavors.

3. Pasta Carbonara


Carbonara is perhaps the most misunderstood specialty. Many prepare it with heavy cream, but the authentic recipe has no such ingredient.

First, guanciale, which is a type of bacon, is fried. Put pepper, eggs, and pecorino in the fat and mix with the water in which the spaghetti was cooked. When the sauce gets the desired thickness, add the spaghetti and a little more of the water in which it was cooked.

This water is rich in starch and can turn any sauce into creamy magic rich in flavors. Finally, stir in the guanciale and serve with Pecorino Romano.

4. Bruschetta

This is another classic example of a simple dish with many fans worldwide. You need plain bread or pieces of ciabatta. The bread is baked in olive oil, then rubbed garlic while it is still warm. Put olive oil and add chopped tomatoes seasoned with basil.

This version is the basic one, and you can also add mozzarella or burrata, spread pesto sauce, or cover with balsamic vinegar. If you haven’t tried it before, make this recipe at home. There is simply no room for error.

5. Osso Buco


This meal will delight all veal lovers. Pieces of veal are cooked slowly with vegetables and wine. Many ingredients and spices are added, resulting in boiled and tasty meat. It is often served as a side dish to pasta or with risotto.

Of course, you can also eat it with bread or focaccia. This proves that Italian cuisine is not just pasta and pizza but much more than that.

6. Risotto Milanese

FWR2PM Risotto alla Milanese. Image shot 2016. Exact date unknown.

This risotto is creamy and delicious and contains saffron and butter. Parmesan is also added to obtain a creamy consistency. Although it is usually a side dish, this risotto has many fans, so you will often see it eaten without any addition.

7. Saltimbocca alla Romana

This classic dish is made from thin veal, prosciutto, and sage slices. Sage leaves are fried in butter, then white wine is added. The pieces of meat are folded and stewed together with sage. The result is a delicious and aromatic dish that will surely delight you.

8. Lasagna


Lasagna is great for those who love bolognese sauce and béchamel, enriched with lots of parmesan. The pasta sheets are arranged in layers and topped with the delicious Bolognese sauce. Lasagna is one of the most loved Italian dishes that is popular worldwide.

9. Caprese salad


Caprese is a salad made with mozzarella, tomato, and basil. Another combination of simple ingredients that you can never go wrong with. If you are not hungry, then Caprese salad is the right choice.

10. Italian desserts

Of course, don’t leave Italy before trying cannoli, tiramisu, or gelato. Even if you have eaten a lot of the other food, there is always room for some dessert. No matter what you choose, we’re sure you’ll enjoy the taste.

What to drink in Italy?

Fortunately, Italy offers you a variety of drinks. From coffee to wine to aperitifs like limoncello, you can easily combine them with any meal. Of course, you have really high-quality Italian wines that go well with all the meals we have recommended.

And if you want to refresh yourself, don’t forget that the most delicious citruses grow in Italy, so you will never go wrong if you ask for fresh lemonade.


Do you already know what you would try first in Italy? Do you have any favorites among the meals we mentioned in our text? Or maybe you have a recommendation for something even better?

Regardless, Italy is a country worth visiting. Not only the food but every corner of the country is beautiful – from beaches to authentic cities that breathe the country’s history. Therefore, if you haven’t done so yet, it’s time to put Italy on your must-visit list.

We’re sure you’ll find your favorite cities and even the tastiest meals that keep you returning. And it is really not difficult at all to get used to the beauty of this country and look for it always and everywhere around you.