Search Holidays

An A to Z Guide to Italian Food

Italian food

Italy’s tasty cuisine is as famous and plentiful as its historical landmarks. Ask people from around the world to associate a word with Italy, and you’re sure to get responses such as “the coliseum” and “pizza”. But there’s so much more to Italian food than just pizza and pasta.

We thought we’d put together an A – Z of some of our favourite Italian foods, including some more obscure options, so next time you visit Europe’s boot – or even your local ristorante – you’ll understand the menu lingo and maybe opt for something a little different to your standard pasta carbonara.


Antipasto – Antipasto meaning “before the meal” is a traditional first course served up in Italy, which includes cured meats, olives, and cheeses that are great for sharing.

Bruschetta – Grilled bread rubbed with olive oil and garlic, topped with tomatoes.

Crostini – Small little rounds of toast that, like Bruschetta, are often served with savoury toppings such as cheeses, vegetables and meats.

Dragoncello – Dragoncello is actually a type of tarragon herb, used in many Italian dishes to add flavour.

Espresso – Okay, not really food, but we couldn’t miss out this rich and tasty Italian coffee could we?

Farinata – Farinata is a thin pancake made with chickpeas that is cooked up along the Riviera Coast. It can be either savoury or sweet depending on the added ingredients, and is gluten free.

Gelato – No trip to Italy is complete without a gelato, or ice-cream as we call it. Gelato comes is a rainbow of flavours and is often decorated with tasty toppings or sculptured into fancy shapes that give it the ‘wow’ factor.

Lampredotto – If you fancy a bit of street food in Florence, try the local dish Lampredotto – slow-cooked cow’s stomach served in a bread roll. Soaked in a herb and tomato broth and topped with spicy olive oil, this street sandwich is far tastier than it sounds.

Mallegato – Mallegato is a bit like a sausage. It’s filled with lard, blood and some nuts, with a sprinkling of cinnamon and raisins to add a sweet taste, and cured. It’s a great and inexpensive way of getting your daily dose of iron and protein.

Nutella – Dip it, spread it, bake with it… Nutella was actually created by an Italian bakery worker way back in the 1940s and is a firm favourite addition to all sorts of foods.

Olives – Some of the finest olives you can taste come from Italy. Try them stuffed, baked in bread or simply on their own. Most Italian foods are cooked in olive oil too.

Pizza and pasta
Pizza & Pasta – We thought we would honour both pasta and pizza when it came to the letter ‘P’. There’s no need to explain these dishes, as they’re both probably dished up in homes around the UK just as much as they are in Italy.

Quadrucci – Quadrucci is a type of pasta that is flat and cut into little squares and is often served in soups and pasta dishes.

Risotto – Is a savoury rice dish, cooked to a creamy consistency. It’s often combined with ingredients such as seafood and vegetables, and it quite filling.

Spag bol
Spaghetti Bolognese – You didn’t think we’d miss this one out did you? Originating from Bologna in Northern Italy, spaghetti Bolognese has become a firm British favourite.

Vermicelli – Often referred to as little worms, vermicelli is a long thin type of pasta a bit like skinny spaghetti. It’s often used is soups, pasta dishes and salads.

Zucchini – A type of courgette, zucchini is very versatile. It’s served up in many ways including fried, baked and boiled.
Which of these foods are firm favourites? And which food would you like to try in Italy?