It’s hard not to be a lover of Italian food. The pizza, the pasta, the gelato—all of it is wonderful! Of course, these are all treats that are well known, and loved, by many. But some of the best Italian treats may be things you’ve never heard of before, ones you might find on the shelves of an Italian grocery store.
In fact, all of the treats listed in this blog have made their way to the USA. Some, at big name chains. Others, you might have to do some digging to find, but a local Italian food mart will definitely have them. Here’s the top five “must-try” goodies:
#1 Chinotto (kee-noht-oh)
This fizzy, dark brown drink comes in small glass bottles, usually in a pack of six. Sounds like classic Coca-Cola right? It definitely looks the same, but the taste is much different. Chinotto has a much darker flavor—it’s less sugary and leans more toward bitter. It also has a hint of orange taste to it. If you’ve ever had chocolate covered orange peels, you are familiar with the taste: sort of bittersweet. The drink is very crisp–an excellent refreshment for a summer day.
#2 Nutella (new-tell-uh)
Image credited to Allison Hare
Nutella has become very popular in the USA, but that is not at all where it originated. Nutella’s home is Italy. This hazelnut flavored spread is very rich and sweet, almost like frosting, but not as thick. It’s used a lot like how peanut butter is in the USA: Spread a good sized dollop on some crunchy toast or crusty white bread, and it’s heaven in your mouth. You’ll definitely want a glass of milk on the side for this tasty treat.
Oh, and here’s a little hint: though they probably don’t do this in Italy, try mixing your Nutella with some peanut butter… it tastes like a Reese’s peanut butter cup!
Image credited to Total City Girl
#3 Pizzelle (peet-zell-eh)
These snowflake shaped goodies are very addictive. They are kind of a cross between wafer and cookie–they are very thin, like wafers, but their taste is similar to butter cookies. They snap easily between your fingers and are fun to nibble at. A lot of times, they are covered with powdered sugar to make them extra delicious.
#4 Taralli (tah-rah-lee)
Taralli are comparable to potato chips in America—they come in all sorts of flavors, and they are a favorite salty snack among Italy’s inhabitants. Taralli have a texture similar to bread sticks, but they are shaped in knots. They can range from teeny-tiny to quite large. Popular flavors include fennel and pepper, but you can also find varieties that are lightly frosted if you have a sweet tooth.
#5 Pannetone (pahn-eh-tone-eh)
Image credited to Trupastilla
Pannetone is a classic Italian favorite, especially around Christmas time. Think of a giant muffin the size of a round birthday cake. That’s what Pannetone looks like on the outside. The inside is not very cakey, however. It’s more like a bread, but it tears apart well like cotton candy. Pannetone also comes in a variety of flavors, the most common one being filled with spots of candied orange peels and raisins. There are also kinds with hefty globs of chocolate splattered throughout.
Are you hungry yet? Venture out to a local Italian market (or, if you’re bold enough, get on that plane to Italy!) and try some of these treats for yourself!