One of the main reasons to go to Italy is to try all the drool-worthy food in every city you visit.
From the fresh homemade pasta in Rome to the incred meat in Florence, there’s a TONNE of options to choose from.
But with so many choices, it can sometimes be overwhelming to figure out where to start.
For me, I found it best to narrow down by the culinary dish that is most synonymous with the city or town I was in.
That way, you’re not only getting the freshest seasonal food, but the tastiest as well. AND, each lovingly made dish is obvs created with local ingredients found in that region. It is bella Italia after all.
Below are some of the best places I’ve eaten at on the Delve Deep: Italy trip.
Mercato Centrale Roma
A great food and market hall within Rome’s main train station. It sells a variety of dishes from local food vendors to eat there and then or cook at home. An inexpensive way to try local food, whether travelling solo or within a big group. From pasta to pizza, and porchetta to panini, you won’t be stuck for options. I visited numerous times and was able try a different dish every single time.
Whilst I didn’t find this place during my Topdeck trip, each time I’ve been lucky enough to go back to Florence, I always stop by this incredible family-owned restaurant. It never disappoints – with the h-u-g-e portion sizes and delightful ambience – this local tavern is one of my favourite restaurants In. The. World. By the time I’ve finished the meal, I instantly dream of the day I return.
Now for a restaurant that was an included meal on the Delve Deep trip! In the city of Florence, you’ll also get to eat local Tuscan cuisine at l’Osteria dell’OK… as well as the best gelato EVER. The creamy decadent dessert had the smoothest texture and is unlike any gelato I’ve tried before! If only I could bring a massive tub back with me.
Favourite dish: Gelato. Trust me.
Spezialità, focacceria bistrò
The first time I ever tried a focaccia pizza did not disappoint. The bistro specialises in focaccia, hence the name. Its crispy texture on the outside and fluffy doughy structure on the inside was HEAVEN. One of the most heavenly carbs – covered in tomato, mozzarella, and pesto – ever created. Simple, but cooked to perfection, and incredibly appetising.
When you see the ingredients lemon and basil in Italy, you tend to think of pesto, right? That delicious savoury sauce you smother over fresh pasta. Well, take those two ingredients, mix them with some sugar and milk, and you have probably the most unusual and unique dish you’ll try whilst in Italy! Based in Corniglia, one of the Cinque Terre, Alberto Gelateria use their own home-grown basil to create their Lemon Basil Gelato. Now I know that may sound odd, but it was delightfully delicious and incredibly refreshing on a hot day. Well worth climbing up all those steps to reach the town.
Favourite dish: Lemon basil gelato.
Okay, I know. Not exactly the name of a restaurant, but I can’t write this list without including one of the best food highlights in Venice. Cicchetti are small places or snacks served at bars along with a beverage of your choice. For me, Chianti all the way. Not only is it a useful way to make sure you’re eating whilst you’re drinking some of the best wine in the world (hard not to be biased here, but come on, it’s Chianti!), but it’s a great way to try as much of the local produce as possible.
Favourite dish: Any cichetti (with chianti).