“Be Italian…” is the verse of a well-known song. Being Italian is sometimes difficult even for Italians themselves, so for foreigners, it must not be that easy. It is not always easy to be so open, lively, sly and able to choose, even with a lot of imagination, the solutions for a life that is as pleasant as possible.
You can do something, however, to show Italian spirit in one of the choices that we are often required to make during our days: the restaurant. Starred restaurant, fish, meat, trattoria or osteria, are some of the options to those for who’s travelling in Italy and wants to taste the best of the cuisine of the Bel Paese.
Let’s start with the most sophisticated choice: the Michelin star restaurants. Italy is the second country in the world for restaurants that have received the prestigious award of Michelin star with a heritage of 11 restaurants with 3 stars, 35 with 2 stars and 328 with one star. There is a great option for every taste, with chefs who are true stars of national and international cuisine, each with its specific characteristics. In reminding you that for the Michelin guide a restaurant with 3 stars is worth visiting wherever you are, just know that the guide can be consulted online and you will almost certainly be able to find a high-level gourmet proposal nearby. The choices are interesting and delicious because they range from creations based on local ingredients to those more creative and based on the stimulation of all the senses. They are certainly the most expensive, but generally, they are always worth it!
Now to the cheaper but not less inviting choices! The noble and very rich Italian cuisine boasts regional variations that in turn see myriads of local interpretations even of the same dish. Let’s also say that Italians like to be creative and differentiate themselves in the kitchen. What’s fun is that all the variations of the same dish are delicious and deserve to be tasted.
Before choosing the most suitable restaurant for you we make a few considerations. If you are in Italy for tourism, a good idea may be to choose at least once a restaurant of general Italian cuisine, which offers some of the most famous dishes of national cuisine: a simple spaghetti with tomato sauce is good everywhere. The suggestion, however, is not to order maybe seafood dishes in the Dolomites, or alpine specialities in southern Italy. After trying a classic Italian restaurant, the most logical choice is to find out more about the local specialities, and maybe look for a trattoria or an osteria, or a slightly simpler restaurant, where you can taste the local delicacies. And so, in Milan you will order risotto and ossobuco or the famous cotoletta, in Florence the pappa al pomodoro and a selection of local cheeses and cold cuts, or the famous lampredotto, in Venice the sarde in saor or the baccalà mantecato, in Rome the spaghetti alla carbonara or the bucatini all’amatriciana, together with abbacchio with potatoes, while in Naples you will surely choose a tasty pizza made according to the local traction, in Bari mussels and potatoes and in Palermo and Catania, all kinds of arancine and countless other proposals of the rich Sicilian tradition.
This is an important point, rely on the cuisine of the area you visit and you will not be disappointed. And, dear non-Italian friends, if you really want to be Italian, give up the temptation to ask for a “Hawaii” pizza, the one with pineapple, or to order a cappuccino after dinner, since according to Italian habits, that is only in the morning for breakfast.
As a logical consequence, while in inland or alpine resorts, we suggest you choose a restaurant maybe specialized in meat, in seaside resorts you could try those specialized in fish cuisine which in Italy is always very tasty.
Consult the various online portals that show ratings is really recommended, there you can find the opinions expressed by the locals to understand where to go to trial and if between the lines, maybe you find some comment that says “it is a tourist place”, then you can also opt for something even more authentic. Sometimes you just need to follow the Italians to see where they go to eat and unless you’ve been really unlucky, they will surely take you to restaurants where you can eat well.
To really enjoy an evening at a restaurant in Italy, relax totally, joke around and be convivial: the more you live the experience, the more people around you will smile, happy to see that you have settled in great!