Photo: Typical Italian ingredients like tomato and garlic next to a plate of cooked spaghetti
Italian cuisine has become one of the most popular national cuisines in the world. Italian restaurants can now be found in almost every major city in the world, and famous Italian dishes like spaghetti and macaroni are cooked in family kitchens around the world. But the most famous Italian dish is the pizzaespecially those sold in take-out pizza restaurants around the world.
Pizza originated in the Italian city of Naples in the late 18th century when someone tried to put a tomato topping on it. focaccia, an Italian flatbread that is still popular today. As other toppings were tried, new kinds of pizza appeared such as Pizza Margarita with its simple tomato garnish, Mozzarella cheese and basil. Salty Italian meats were also tried, which led to meatier pizzas like quattro stagioni pizza with its mixture of toppings based on salamiham, olives, artichokes and mushrooms, and capricious pizza with baked Italian ham added to the tomato and mozzarella topping on which most traditional pizzas are based.
After American soldiers discovered pizza in Italy during World War II, it became very popular in the United States. The demand for pizza grew steadily, and in the 1960s and 1970s take-out pizza restaurants opened all over the United States. Since then, American pizzerias have opened take-out restaurants all over the world, which has led to the huge popularity of pizzas all over the world. They still sell traditional Italian pizzas like the pepperoni pizza and marinara pizzabut many of today’s bestsellers are non-traditional pizzas like the Hawaiian pizza made with ham and pineapple and the Mexicana pizza made with Mexican-style ingredients such as peppers, ground beef and hot peppers.
Pasta and pasta dishes
Many of the world’s most popular recipes for home-cooked meals also come from Italy, especially those for various types of Pasta. Some of the most popular pastas are spaghetti, macaroni and Fettuccineand homemade dishes like spaghetti bolognese, macaroni and cheese and Fettuccine Alfredo are popular around the world not only because they are delicious, but also because they are so easy to prepare. For many pasta dishes, all you have to do is cook the pasta in boiling water and heat up a ready-made sauce or make a simple sauce like Pesto. But some pasta dishes take more time and skill to prepare, and these include lasagnaa baked pasta dish in which flat pasta sheets divide layers of meat, seafood, or vegetables into a sauce.
If you go to an Italian supermarket, or if you eat in an Italian restaurant, you can find other kinds of pasta that are shaped like shells or small cushions. These are used to make small dumplings with a vegetable or meat filling. They include tube-shaped cannellonisquare Ravioli and ring-shaped tortellini. Like most pasta dishes, stuffed pasta dishes are usually served with some sauce.
Antipasti and main dishes
Italian cuisine, however, offers many dishes in addition to pizza and pasta. If you go to an Italian restaurant or trattoria for lunch or dinner you will probably start with a antipasti As bruschetta or with focaccia type Italian bread seasoned with olive oil, salt and herbs. Or you can start with an Italian soup like vegetable soup with pasta Where Ribollita or with a pasta dish like Gnocchi. For your main dish, you could have a dish consisting mainly of meat like Osso Buco Where cutlet. If you are vegetarian, you can choose a main dish like eggplant parmagiana or fried rice balls called Arancini which are stuffed with a filling of vegetables or cheese. Rice is also the main ingredient of Risotto, a creamy dish in which rice is cooked in a meat, fish or vegetable broth. Another popular ingredient in many Italian dishes is polenta. It is made from boiled cornmeal and can be eaten as a porridge or creamy side dish or cooled then sliced and baked or fried.
Italian desserts and coffee
After your main course, you will definitely want to try one of the famous Italian desserts. Popular ones include a very rich, coffee-flavored layered cake called Tiramisua tube-shaped pastry with a sweet, creamy filling called cannoliand a kind of sweet cream thickened with gelatin called Panna cotta. But if you’re an ice cream lover, why not try the Italian gelato called ice?
You can then follow dessert with one of the many Italian coffees that are so popular around the world these days. They understand Espresso, caffè latte, cappuccino, caffè macchiato, caffè mocha and many more. These Italian-style coffees are usually made with an espresso machine that forces a high-pressure spray of very hot water through ground coffee beans.
Margherita Pizza Where Pizza Margarita
cutlet and lemon sauce
spinach and ricotta ravioli
panna tortellini Where cream tortellini
vinegar and olive oil
antipasti (noun): cold savory appetizer or entrée eaten at the start of an Italian meal – Order this antipasto plate with charcuterie, olives and cheese.
Arancini (noun): an Italian dish of fried rice balls with a savory filling – Tonight’s dish is lobster-stuffed arancini.
bruschetta (noun): toast and olive oil, often garnished with garlic and tomato – Italian restaurants often serve bruschetta as a free antipasto that you can eat when ordering.
cannelloni (noun): pasta tubes filled with a mixture of meat or vegetables and cheese – Our mom makes the best cannelloni in the village!
cannoli (noun): small fried pastry tubes with a creamy filling of sweet ricotta cheese – I’ll have the cannoli for dessert, please.
Espresso (noun): an Italian coffee made by forcing steam through ground coffee beans – Fancy an espresso after your meal?
Fettuccine (noun): pasta stretched into long flat strips like ribbons – I had the fettuccine and my friend had the lasagna.
focaccia (noun): baked Italian flatbread – Have you tried one of our new focaccia sandwiches?
ice (noun): Italian ice cream – Gelato is also the Italian word for ice cream, isn’t it?
Gnocchi (noun): small dumplings made from flour, potato or semolina, often served with a sauce – We’ll have spinach gnocchi with butter and sage for our entree, please.
lasagna (noun): a baked dish with sheets of flat pasta separating layers of minced meat or vegetables in sauce – If we go to an Italian restaurant, someone always orders the lasagna.
macaroni (noun): small curved tubes of pasta, or a dish made with this – Did your mom make macaroni and cheese when you were a kid?
vegetable soup with pasta (noun): a thick Italian soup containing chopped vegetables and pasta – Should I have the French onion soup or the minestrone?
Mozzarella (noun): a soft, white Italian cheese mainly used in salads and pizza – Do you have real Italian mozzarella made from buffalo milk?
olive oil (noun): a cooking and salad oil obtained by pressing olives – Let’s take Italian bread and olive oil.
Osso Buco (noun): a braised Italian dish of cross-cut veal shanks, vegetables and white wine – If you get veal shanks from the butcher, I’ll make ossobuco.
Panna cotta (noun): an Italian dessert made with sweetened, thickened cream – I love panna cotta with strawberry syrup.
parmagiana (noun): a dish of aubergines or slices of meat cooked with a tomato cheese sauce – I’ll have the veal parmagiana, please.
Pasta (noun): fresh or dried wheat dough in many forms such as long, thin spaghetti and short tubular macaroni – Italians have been eating pasta since the 12th century.
pepperoni (noun): an Italian-style spiced cured sausage made from beef and pork – Could you pass the pepperoni, please?
Pesto (noun): a sauce made with garlic, pine nuts, parmesan, basil, salt and olive oil – My grandmother kept her pesto recipe a secret.
pizza (noun): a round, flat base of dough topped with tomato, cheese and other ingredients baked in a special oven – Can you grab some pizzas on your way home?
polenta (noun): boiled cornmeal or cornmeal eaten boiled or cooled then fried or baked – I’ve never seen polenta in England, but it’s everywhere in Italy.
Ravioli (noun): a small Italian dumpling made of pasta with a filling of meat or vegetables – Crab Meat Filled Ravioli sounds great.
Ribollita (noun): a bread and vegetable soup first made by Tuscan peasants – In the past, ribollita was often made with leftover food.
Risotto (noun): an Italian dish of creamy rice cooked in vegetable, meat or fish broth – Why not try this mushroom and chicken risotto?
salami (noun): a cured sausage made from beef or pork that is usually eaten cold in thin slices – Don’t forget to put salami on the pizza, will you?
cutlet (noun): a dish made by frying very thin slices of veal, pork or chicken – Let’s take Scaloppine al Limone for a change.
spaghetti (noun): a variety of pasta that forms into long, string-thin pieces – How long should I cook spaghetti?
Tiramisu (noun): an Italian dessert of sponge cake soaked in coffee and brandy with powdered chocolate and mascarpone cheese – My favorite dessert is tiramisu, of course.
tortellini (noun): small dough balls in the shape of a ring with a filling of meat, cheese or vegetables – Do they sell tortellini in the supermarket?
trattoria (noun): a small, affordable, often family-run Italian restaurant – Let’s have lunch in this little trattoria.
Contributor: Matt Errey. Matt is the author of several books, including 1000 Phrasal Verbs in Context and Common English Idioms for learners, and Matt’s ESL Games and Quizs for teachers. He is also the creator of WORD UP, the world’s #1 EFL board game.