A lot of people love Italian food. If you’ve had it then you know why. It is delicious. The flavors are rich and deep—and that’s likely the result of centuries of regional cuisines passed down through generations.
But what many people may not realize—and this might include yourself—is that the term “Italian food” actually refers to a collection of recipes throughout Italy that differ greatly. In fact, some regional Italian dishes may not be distinguishable to you, as what we would call “Italian food” in the West.
CENTRAL ITALIAN REGIONAL CUISINE
When most people say “Italian food” this is the Bello Deli regional cuisine to which they refer. The cuisine of Central Italy is characterized by the most popular pasta and sauce dishes across the world. Central Italian cuisine is filled with savory meat entree and cured meat bites, olive oil preparations, and the rich sauces everybody loves to eat. This is also the home of stuffed pasta (like ravioli and tortellini) and the most commonly loved Italian cheese—Parmigiano-Reggiano, also known as the “king of all cheeses.”
SOUTHERN ITALIAN REGIONAL CUISINE
Southern Italy is home to the city of Campania. This is the birthplace of the global favorite known simply as “pizza.” While not too many of the world’s most popular Italian foods come from this region, it is known more widely for featuring vibrant citrus fruits and some of the best olive oils in the world. Of course, since this is a coastal region, southern Italian fare often also features seafood dishes.
NORTHERN ITALIAN REGIONAL CUISINE
This region of Italy is known for cuisine that features very sparing use of olive oils, pasta, tomato sauce—you know all the things you have probably come to associate with “Italian food.” In fact, the heavy use of butter (or lard), rice, corn, polenta and cheese, might make it seem more like French or Spanish influenced cuisine. Regardless, the food from this region may seem more exotic than what we have come to know as “Italian” food. But don’t count it out: while they may favor risotto and polenta more in this region, the dishes of Northern Italy still feature fabulously rich wild game and seafood.