Italian dining includes some of the most wonderful and delicious foods this planet has to offer. From freshly made pasta to traditionally made pizza, no matter where you dine - almost every Italian restaurant you find will have a menu that is bound to tickle those tastebuds.
Italian food is known for its fresh, local ingredients and the common use of mild but flavourful spices. All of the best Italian restaurants will offer the most common, traditional dishes such as an antipasto platter - which usually consists of cured meats, pickled vegetables & olives, and an assortment of different cheeses. This dish is usually served as an appetizer, prior to the main course.
Once you've devoured you starter dish, you'll want to follow it down with such Italy food as a pasta dish, a catch of the day fish platter accompanied with freshly baked breads or the traditional wood-burning-oven-baked Napoletana pizza.
To finish it all off, especially if you have a sweet tooth - you'll definitely want to check out the dessert menu because no Italian dining experience is complete without it. Most common desert of course is the tiramisu (meaning pick-me-up), but others include liquored biscotti, mascarpone with chocolate, fruit and gelato combos just to name a few. Some restaurants will go out of their way to make you feel welcome with a free shot of a "grappétta" at the end of your meal. This is a small (1 oz) shot of Italy's version of moonshine and is typically 35-60% alcohol by volume (70-120 proof in the US).
Italian pastries are called "Pasticcini" and are mostly consumed in the morning along with a coffee drink of some sort. In fact the most common early breakfast called "prima colazione" consists of a croissant and a cappuccino. In Italy's north - croissants are called "brioche" while further down south, they are called "cornetti".
Italy is also the birthplace of the trendy & popular Mediterranean diet. This diet usually consists of ample amounts of fresh vegetables, fruits, fish & other seafood, and of course - large amounts of extra virgin olive oil. It is also based around the principle that food should be savoured and enjoyed. Having said that, meals are usually eaten slowly and in the company of friends and loved ones - typically large families at the dinner table. Furthermore, Italian food is also good for your health, heart and well-being overall.
Italian food and good restaurants are abundant and are around every corner, so you'll never be hungry here. It is important to note however, that many restaurants close mid-afternoon (usually around 3 pm) to prepare for the dinner hour, and reopen around 6 pm. Also, many grocery stores close on Sundays depending on the region you are visiting.
Another exciting culinary experience that is worth enjoying while in Italy is participating in a cooking class or lessons so you can master your Italian cuisine skills. Italy is home to some of the most well-known cooking schools in the world and many hold classes that are geared towards tourists, so you can enjoy a friendly environment and chefs sharing their craft are often multi-lingual. Joining a cooking school here is one of the best ways to learn about the country’s culture and also grasp the ability to bring the distinctive and delicious flavours of Italy food home with you, to your very own dinner table. Buon Appetito!