Italian cuisine is characterized by its absolute simplicity with many dishes only having four to eight ingredients. Rather than focusing on ambitious food preparation, Italian chefs focus on the quality of their ingredient.
Cheese and wine have also become important parts of the cuisine
Italian food is also known for its geographic diversity as well as well as abundance of flavours.
Many recipes are the inspiration of grandmothers rather than chefs. Because as everyone knows, "nobody cooks better than mama!!"
Popular Italian dishes
A classic dish that also works as a sub sandwich. Virtually anything breaded and deep-fried with melted cheese is going to be a hit.
One of the heavier Italian sauces, a creamy alfredo sauce sticks best to wide noodles like fettuccini.
A classic dish, lasagna is a conglomeration of ingredients that reflect the taste of the person making it. The best lasagnas are home-made and include plenty of ground beef, sausage, ricotta, mozzarella and parmesean cheeses.
Linguine with clam sauce
Clam sauces vary, but the best examples of this dish come in a garlic and oil sauce and use whole clams. Il Giardino's at 910 Atlantic Ave. has Linguine alla Vongole, the best local take on this meal.
A good marsala wine sauce is loaded with mushrooms and scallions. However, the thought of veal turns some people off and chicken can be too boring. A refreshing twist to this dish is a sirloin marsala, offered by Carraba's Italian Grill at 12363 Hornsby Ln. in Newport News.
"Saltimbocca" is a combination of Italian terms that means, "jumps into one's mouth." Most of these dishes combine a meat, such as chicken, with prosciutto ham, spinach, and mozzarella cheese.
One of the most well-known Italian vegetarian dishes. "Primavera" means springtime and can include any combination of vegetables over pasta in a variety of sauces.
Shrimp fra diavolo
Italian food with a kick. "Diavolo" is Italian for devil and this style of red sauce relies on crushed red pepper and garlic.
Penne alla vodka
Vodka sauces have become popular in recent years. Usually a mixture of marinara and a cream sauce with basil and a shot of vodka, a reddish vodka sauce is a savory experience.
Spaghetti with tomato sauce
Don't forget the old mainstay.