When it comes to food and drink, there is little that is more satisfying than an Italian meal. Here’s a selection of Italian dishes and drinks that everyone ought to try at least once.

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Pesto alla Genovese

Basil, garlic, sea salt, pine nuts, pecorino cheese, parmesan cheese and extra virgin olive oil combine to make this classic Italian sauce, which is traditionally served with linguine. Sauce from a jar will never be quite the same once you’ve tried the homemade version.

Tagliatelle al ragu

This traditional dish from Bologna is the inspiration for what we know as spaghetti bolognaise. Made with beef, onions, celery, carrot, tomato paste, white wine and milk, it omits the British staples of garlic and herbs. It is served with tagliatelle, not spaghetti, and garnished with a little parmesan. The BBC Good Food Guide has a version of the dish that is more British than Italian, but somehow also more Italian than most British efforts.

Risotto alla Milanese

Made with either Arborio or Carneroli rice, this is the mother of all risottos. Cooked in stock, flavoured with saffron and garnished with parmesan, it is simple but utterly satisfying.

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Ossobuco alla Milanese

This is veal shank on the bone, cooked for three hours in a broth of stock, white wine and vegetables until the meat is so tender it is falling off the bone. Italians like to serve it with polenta.


Naples claims to be the home of the modern pizza, although it originated as a Roman street food. A Neapolitan Pizza Margherita is many Italians’ idea of pizza perfection. Fortunately, pizza is one Italian food that Italian restaurants in Dublin and elsewhere have mastered with style. Restaurants such as http://www.forno500.ie/ will be delighted to serve you pizza that could just as easily have come from a Neapolitan pizza oven.


The original Italian ice cream has many imitators, but few equals. Lower in fat than most of the ice cream served in the UK and elsewhere, its texture is more velvety, and it melts in the mouth like nothing else.


Italians are famously particular about their coffee. Cappuccino, for example, is generally drunk only in the early morning, but an espresso may be taken after a meal at any time of the day, in order to settle the stomach.