Best Food Cities in Italy

Best Food Cities in Italy

Italy is one of the most exciting and eventful destinations in the world featuring influential culture, incredible arts, and delectable cuisine. In fact, Italian food is among the most beloved cuisines in the world! But where is the best food in Italy? And what is the food capital of Italy? 

This European country offers a wide variety of delicacies and specialties spread across the provinces. From hand-crafted chocolate in Modica and sweet cannoli in Palermo to burnt spaghetti in Bari and rare white truffles in Alba, the choices are truly vast. In this article, we will discuss the best cities in Italy for food and tell you the most iconic dish from each location. 


Bologna: the Food Capital of Italy

Where to go in Italy for food that will blow your mind? As the world-renowned magazine Timeout cited, the food capital of Italy is Bologna located in the Emilia-Romagna region. The city is often referred to as “la grassa” or the fat one highlighting its culinary heritage throughout the centuries. 

Cotoletta alla Bolognese

The entire area is blessed with delicious cheese, balsamic vinegar, and parma ham, which have become staples of numerous dishes. One of them is a traditional veal steak called Cotoletta alla Bolognese. The steak is breaded and fried also featuring fresh lemon and a simple salad. The dish roughly resembles the German Schnitzel but with its own unique Italian twist and remains one of the most popular items on the menu. 


Rome for Pasta alla Zozzona

One of the best food cities in Italy, Rome is known for its incredible food scene featuring pizza, lasagna, pasta, and many other iconic dishes. However, Pasta alla Zozzona is a true gem of the region combining the Roman classics like carbonara, amatriciana (pasta sauce), and cacio e pepe (pasta with cheese and pepper). 

Pasta alla Zozzona

Pasta alla Zozzona is made with chewy pasta, creamy pork cheek sauce, pecorino cheese, and eggs. The ingredients are simple yet together they create a delectable and rich dish. The recipe exemplifies the Roman ability to transform trivial ingredients into a unique culinary masterpiece. 


Palermo for Cannoli

Among the best cities for food in Italy is Palermo, the birthplace of cannoli. These crispy and sweet treats symbolize the city’s culinary history and artistry. The recipe dates back to the Middle Ages when nuns prepared cannoli to celebrate the Carnevale festival. The later Arab influence made some changes to the dish bringing fruits and sugar cane to the treat. 


The traditional cannoli contain shells made from sweet dough with wine or vinegar and creamy filling. The insides are prepared with ricotta which is a type of sheep cheese, and sweeteners like sugar, chocolate, and candied fruit, among other options. The shells are filled on the spot to avoid an unpleasant soggy texture and dusted with powdered sugar or cinnamon as a final touch. 


Florence for Bistecca Fiorentina

What city in Italy has the best food for meat eaters? Florence in Tuscany is another iconic destination for foodies from all over the world. The number one choice of dinner is Bistecca Fiorentina, a T-bone steak roasted over coals. The portion is quite impressive so the steak is usually served for two people to share. 

Bistecca Fiorentina

This three-pound two-inch thick delicacy is seasoned with salt, pepper, and olive oil to preserve the primal flavors of the meat. The steak is then grilled over hot coals to deliver a crispy bistecca with juicy insides. Served rare, the dish is simple and hearty and complements the proud gastronomic heritage of the region. 


Cagliari for Spaghetti al Ricci di Mare

Cagliari is a town in Sardinia by the Mediterranean Sea attracting tourists with its heavenly weather, delicious seafood, and warm hospitality. The geographical location of the city has fostered a diverse culinary environment making it one of the best places for food in Italy. Moreover, you can enjoy gastronomic delights while overlooking the picturesque seaside views. 

Spaghetti al Ricci di Mare

Among the most popular dishes in Cagliari is Spaghetti al Ricci di Mare. Although not for everyone, this treat will certainly appeal to sushi and raw fish enthusiasts. Any time between November and April, you can sample spaghetti with sea urchin, a pasta dish made with fish eggs that add an interesting salty sweetness. 


Sorrento for Spaghetti al Limone

What part of Italy has the best food? Sorento is another coastal town mostly known for its plentiful lemon trees, souvenirs, and cuisine. In addition to lemons, the city is brimming with fresh produce, delectable seafood, and breathtaking seaside views. 

Spaghetti al Limone

One of the most iconic dishes in the region is spaghetti al limone, a truly unique and surprising treat that will not leave you disappointed. A dish that combines pasta, lemon zest and juice, garlic, parmesan, and herbs, it offers an interesting blend of flavors. Although simple, the specialty showcases a harmonious balance of tart and cream, beautifully expressing the essence of the region.


Genoa for Genovese Pesto

In the Northwest of Italy, you will find the city of Genoa, a place where pesto was born. One of the best places in Italy for food, the town is filled with delectable aromas of basil, pine nuts, and olives that combined with pecorino sardo, garlic, and sea salt create one of the most iconic dishes in the world. However, the recipe for pesto has been transformed numerous times, creating a new blend of flavors and textures. 

Genovese Pesto

To sample Genovese pesto, you can pair it with trofie or trenette pasta at a local restaurant to enjoy a variety of recipes. Most eateries prepare their dishes with fresh local ingredients and experiment with different pairings and elements of the recipe. 


Parma for Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

Another Emilia-Romagna gem is Parma, the birthplace of the famous Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Aside from the iconic cheese, the region is the best food city in Italy for Lambrusco wine, parma ham, and mortadella, a pork sausage. 

Parmigiano Cheese

Parmigiano-Reggiano is not fully synonymous with parmesan as it follows a very strict recipe to create this hard, aged milk product. A centuries-old process, it takes at least a year to make a wheel of cheese that can only be made in Parma and nearby areas. If you want to make sure you’re purchasing the right kind of cheese, check for the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium stamp that indicates the highest quality of standards.  


Bari for Spaghetti all'Assassina

In the south of the country, you can visit a small town called Bari, a city of Saint Nicholas. Among the best places to visit in Italy for food, the area is known for its one-of-a-kind delicacy Spaghetti all’Assassina or assassin’s spaghetti. The dish features tomato passata, garlic, chili, and ricotta cheese. However, the most surprising part of the dish is the way the pasta is prepared: it’s not boiled but rather fried. 

Spaghetti all Assassina

The spaghetti is placed in an iron pan with tomato sauce and cooked until it becomes slightly charred and crispy. This innovative cooking method gives the dish a distinctive flavor and texture making it an interesting and new experience. Lastly, the treat is served with chili to add some spice to this flavor fusion. 


Naples for Pizza Napoletana

The best food city in Italy to indulge in pizza is unequivocally Naples, the birthplace of this world-renowned treat. This dish won over our hearts with just a few simple ingredients: thin dough, mozzarella, fresh basil, and tomato sauce. Over 15,000 people in Naples have mastered this iconic recipe in addition to numerous other variants. 

Pizza Napoletana

The pizza-making tradition dates back centuries and remains one of the staples of the region. Families share their recipes and passions for pizza artistry preserving the heritage with pride and precision. The execution must be perfect and veering of the pizza-making standards is a big no-no in Naples. 


Turin for Agnolotti

Among the best cities in Italy for food is the northern Turin, a former capital of the country and a town of museums and culture. Turin is known for its incredible chocolate production, espresso beans, and agnolotti. The region brims with delectable dishes like vitello tonnato, bicerin (drink with chocolate, coffee, and cream), and bagna cauda (garlic and anchovies dip). 


Agnolotti is a type of small stuffed pasta filled with meats, vegetables, and cheese. The choice of meat is vast and includes lamb, rabbit, or pork. The pasta is then boiled, pan-fried in butter, and served with sage sauce and herbs. During the truffle season, it’s customary to garnish agnolotti with shaved truffles.


Modica for Cioccolato di Modica

Modica is located in the southeast of Sicily and finds itself among the best food cities in Italy. The main draw of the region is Cioccolato di Modica, a type of chocolate prepared using an ancient Aztec technique. The chocolate is ground by hand instead of a machine and processed at a low temperature of 113°F (45°C) to preserve sugar solids. 

Cioccolato di Modica

The sweet treat is characterized by its grainy texture and powerful flavor delivered by only two ingredients: cocoa beans and cane sugar. No animal products like cocoa butter or milk are added to the recipe making it a naturally raw and vegan delicacy. For the most part, Italians enjoy Cioccolato di Modica on its own but sometimes it can be embellished with lemon, sea salt, or peperoncino (hot chili pepper). 


Milan for Risotto alla Milanesa

The Italian capital of business and fashion, Milan is also one of the best food places in Italy. You cannot visit the country without stopping by this gorgeous metropolitan dating back to 590 BC. The must-try dish in Milan is risotto alla Milanesa, a classic rich treat with saffron and creamy sauce. 

Risotto alla Milanesa

The recipe is thought to have been invented by an eccentric painter in the 16th century who added saffron to the pasta dish to color it yellow as he did with his paints. Aside from the main ingredient, the dish is made with caramelized onions, white wine, and beef stock. At the end of the process, the rice is combined with butter and parmesan cheese. 


Ferrara for Salama da Sugo

The city of Ferrara is also located in the Emilia-Romagna region and remains one of the best places to go in Italy for food. The breathtaking streets and buildings of the town date back to the Renaissance epoch and are now protected by UNESCO. The local food scene has been influenced by Jewish culture and cuisine making it quite different from the rest of the country. 

Salama da Sugo

Salama da Sugo is a type of fermented pork sausage usually served with mashed potatoes or polenta (cornmeal). The sausage is made of pork, red wine, and spices and is then aged for a few months until it develops a distinctive flavor. Alternatively, locals also prepare the so-called young salama which is freshly boiled and consumed hot. 


Alba for White Truffles 

Alba is a small city in the north of the country and exemplifies the best place for food in Italy. If you have an exquisite taste, you will most likely enjoy the local delicacy: white truffles. In fact, every year since 1929 the city celebrates its delicious legacy with the Truffle Fair. During the fair, you can sample, purchase, and learn about the truffles and their history. 

White Truffles

The rare mushrooms are harvested in the local forests and are recognized for their intense scent and flavor. Numerous restaurants in Alba offer various dishes with the white truffle, including tagliolini al tartufo bianco and fonduta ( cheese dip with truffles). 


Venice for Cicchetti 

Venice is another answer to the question of what city has the best food in Italy. One of the most famous Italian cities on earth, Venice is built on water with a unique maze of canals and bridges. The town’s claim to fame is cicchetti, small savory snacks that resemble Spanish tapas. The word cicchetti means a small quantity of the Venetian dialect. 


These bite-sized treats are usually served in bars and taverns and include a wide array of culinary experiences. For example, you can sample crostini topped with meats, vegetables, and seafood or baccalà mantecato served with creamy cod spread. The treats are quite affordable and can even be purchased from a street food vendor for two to four euros a piece. 


Modena for Balsamic Vinegar

Among the best cities for food is Modena, the birthplace of traditional balsamic vinegar. Similarly to wine, vinegar is made from grapes which are cooked down and stored. Later, the liquid is aged in wooden barrels for at least 12 years. If you’re interested in the vinegar-making process, consider a visit to the acetaia (vinegar house). 

Balsamic Vinegar

Vinegar is found in many Italian dishes but in Modena, you can even try it with gelato. Local restaurants serve vinegar in salads, meats, cheeses, and many other treats. Noteworthy specialties include tortellini, tampone, and tigelle.


Livorno for Cacciucco 

Livorno is another coastal town and the best place in Italy for food and seaside panoramas. Designed during the Renaissance as the “ideal city”, Livorno is renowned for its delectable seafood specialties. Among them is Cacciucco, a rich fish stew with mollusks, tomatoes, and garlic bread. 


The dish is typically made with an assortment of fish, octopus, squid, and shrimp, and seasoned with red chili peppers and garlic. The spiced garlic sauce was viewed as a poor man’s sauce and was used in many dishes. Similarly, the fish that was used in the recipe was mostly discarded. But nowadays the treat is prepared with expensive and fresh ingredients and is considered as the staple of Livorno’s food scene. 


Pescara for Cozze Ripiene

Another quaint coastal city and one of the best food places in Italy is Pescara, a small town in Abruzzo. The location is a great destination for seafood dishes and mesmerizing seaside views and atmosphere. The most iconic dish is Pescara is Cozze Ripiene, a local specialty made with mussels and stuffed with breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, tomatoes, and cheese. 

Cozze Ripiene

The stuffed mussels are baked or grilled until golden and crispy and enjoyed with a glass of white wine that complements the flavor palette. The city offers other numerous dishes, including brodetto di pesce (fish soup), arrosticini (lamb skewers), and chitarra alla teramana (pasta with meat and tomatoes). 


Catanzaro for Nduja

Catanzaro is the best city in Italy for food for those who prefer spicy dishes. Nduja is a sausage made from ground pork with a high fat content, salt, and chili peppers. The delicacy is quite hot as chili peppers take up to a third of its weight giving the sausage its iconic deep red hue. The mixture is then stuffed into a casing and left to ferment in a chamber for 36 hours. 


The Nduja sausage tastes similar to other cured salami but what makes it stand out is the chili peppers and the unique climate of southern Italy. Hot arid weather conditions and high fat content give the sausage a buttery texture making it a delicious meaty spread.


Ancona for Stoccafisso All’anconetana

Ancona is a hidden gem in the central part of the country and the best city for food in Italy for those who enjoy seafood delicacies. Stoccafisso All’anconetana is a recipe that dates back to the 17th and remains practically unchanged. Made with cod fish and vegetables, it’s a simple and hearty dish that satisfies your hunger and soul. 

Stoccafisso All’anconetana

The main ingredient is dried cod fish that is soaked and cooked with potatoes, tomatoes, onions, celery, carrots, and herbs for at least two hours. You can taste this local staple at most local restaurants alongside other specialties like moscioli (wild mussels), vincisgrassi (lasagna), and olive all’ascolana (stuffed olives). 


Perugia for Ragu di Cinghiale

Where is the best food in Italy for those who enjoy ragu? Perugia is an ancient city in central Italy with a focus on hearty and flavorful dishes. Ragu di Cinghiale is a savory pasta sauce with wild boar meat and tomatoes. It’s slowly cooked with various vegetables, red wine, and herbs until the meat becomes soft and tender. The sauce can be served over any type of pasta but most typically strangozzi.

 Ragu di Cinghiale

Italy is full of incredible and at times surprising culinary choices and delicious treats dating back centuries. Striving to preserve cooking traditions, the country is beloved by foodies from all over the world. So which city in Italy has the best food? The truth is, no matter where you head, you will most certainly find a new favorite meal or discover a novel combination of flavors and textures. Book your next trip to this amazing country and enjoy a lengthy and delectable food tour. 
Better Features in the App
cashless tips
Cashless Tips
cashless tips
Google / Apple Pay
cashless tips
Nearby Map