Deliziosa Pasta Italiana – CSUN Travel Blog

Delicious Italian pasta

When you think of Italy, you think of food. Probably more specifically what I call holy trinity pasta, pizza and ice cream, and I don’t blame you. Pasta from Italy is unforgettable. When I spent my time studying abroad in Italy, I made it my mission to try all the specialties of each region. In every city I visited, I noticed that they had their turn in the dish. Note that I will be reviewing dishes primarily from Northern Italy since that is where I lived during my year abroad in Florence, Italy. Since there are too many incredible dishes, it seems appropriate to separate the trinity into three separate posts. So, let’s first review the great pasta dishes I would recommend if you decide to spend time in Italy or at an Italian restaurant.

Pasta

If you didn’t already know, pasta is a staple of Italian cuisine. The origins of Italian pasta date back to the 13th century, so we can say that they had time to perfect the craftsmanship. With its long history, you can tell where you are in Italy by the way pasta is made and presented. Usually, meatier sauces are found in northern Italy and seafood pasta dishes can be found near the Mediterranean and Adriatic seas. The pasta tends to get lighter as you go down the map. I found myself eating pasta daily while living in Italy. Don’t worry, I made my steps, especially living thirty minutes from the CSU campus.

Cacio and Pepe

The first pasta to mention is a very simple but so delicious dish if you order it in the eternal city of Rome. This is the first dish I ate when I arrived in the Roman city. I enjoyed this dish with a few other CSU IP students I met at orientation and an Italian I was introduced to when I arrived. Our Italian was not yet developed but she was kind enough to order in Italian for us. As I mentioned, this dish is simple with three main ingredients; pepper, cheese and pasta, hence Cacao e Pepe (cheese and pepper). I still think about this dish. Simple but perfect!

Zucca Ravioli

Trader Joe’s has nothing on this pasta dish. Yippee, I said it! A great fall dish as the weather changes from hot, humid summer days to cooler fall days in Italy. If you’re craving something a little sweeter, this pumpkin ravioli pasta dish is a must. A sweet and warm creamy pumpkin filling that just tastes like fall. It’s not too sweet, but you might not crave dessert after eating this dish. This was a must do when visiting Mantua in Northern Italy on my way to Turin on a trip with CSU IP.

Vongole Spaghetti

If you’re heading south of Italy to Campania, or northeast to Venice, Spaghetti Alle Vongole is the dish to try. By far my favorite dish but I love seafood. No pun intended. It’s slightly oilier with a light seasoning that complements the cooked open clams with the pasta. This dish imparts a satisfying salty sensation that leaves you ready for dessert. If you’re not a seafood lover, I suggest you skip this tasty dish.

Bolognese tagliatelle

If you’re traveling through Bologna, don’t be shy about this meaty pasta dish. Be warned, this can get messy, so don’t put on your best white clothes unless you plan to wear them again. I wouldn’t put you off trying it because it’s packed with gravy, on gravy, on meat, on gravy. My favorite cut of pasta is the pappardelle covered in finely chopped and deliciously seasoned traditional stew topped with light or heavy shredded mozzarella cheese. Truly a delicious plate that resembles another familiar pasta dish that is also bursting with flavor, the lasagna.

lasagna

How can I talk about pasta and not mention the mother of all pasta dishes, lasagna. Hailing from Naples, lasagna is truly the definition of a filling dish. When I was near Turin in Northern Italy I tried Lasagne Alla Bolognese al Forno and it didn’t taste like the dish found in Campania. That’s not to say that a specialty dish served in a foreign region won’t taste just as good, but it tastes better in its original location. The best way to describe this dish is mouth-watering. If you’re visiting southern Italy near Campania, try the Neapolitan lasagna if you’re not already full of authentic pizza from the region!

Carry

Wherever you are visiting in the beautiful country of Italy, feel free to ask or even practice your Italian and see what dishes are local to the city you are passing through. Be careful not to ask which pasta dish is the best to eat because Italians will say their dish is better than any other region. Try asking which dish is a staple in the area or even in the town you are in, as that will be the best option. Most likely, it will be the most delicious thing to eat. And don’t worry about tasting more than one. If you’re staying downtown, you’ll probably walk around and burn some calories. Enjoy your meal!

Tessa Cervantes-Roth, CSU IP Florence, Italy Alumni, 2019-2020, CSUN Study Abroad Advisor

Photo taken from Instagram, @pastagrannies, 2021

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