16 Recipes for Old-World Italian Food

Discover the rich culinary heritage of Italy with our collection of 16 Old-World Italian recipes, each brimming with tradition and flavor. From the bustling streets of Rome to the sun-kissed hills of Tuscany, these timeless dishes offer a taste of Italy’s diverse regions and cultural influences. Whether you’re craving the creamy comfort of Spaghetti Carbonara or the vibrant freshness of Caprese Salad, our curated selection has something for every palate. Each recipe is crafted with care and authenticity, using traditional ingredients and techniques passed down through generations. Let these recipes transport you to the heart of Italy, where food is more than sustenance—it’s a celebration of life, love, and heritage.

1. Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara is a classic Italian pasta dish originating from Rome. It typically consists of spaghetti, eggs, cheese (Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano), guanciale, and black pepper. To prepare this dish, start by cooking the guanciale until crispy, then toss the cooked spaghetti in a mixture of eggs, cheese, and pepper. The pasta heat cooks the eggs, which makes the sauce rich. Garnish with additional cheese and pepper before serving for an authentic taste of Italy.

2. Osso Buco

Osso Buco is a traditional Milanese dish made with braised veal shanks, vegetables, white wine, and broth. In Italian, “Osso Buco” means “bone with a hole,” which refers to the bone in the middle of the veal shank that is full of marrow. To make Osso Buco, brown the veal shanks, then simmer them with onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes, and white wine until tender. Serve the tender veal shanks with a gremolata—a mixture of lemon zest, garlic, and parsley—for a burst of freshness.

3. Lasagna Bolognese

Lasagna Bolognese is a hearty Italian dish consisting of layers of lasagna noodles, Bolognese sauce, béchamel sauce, and cheese. Bolognese sauce is a rich, meaty sauce made with ground beef, pancetta, onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes, and wine. Béchamel sauce, a creamy white sauce, adds richness and depth to the dish. To assemble Lasagna Bolognese, layer the noodles with the sauces and cheese, then bake until bubbly and golden brown. Let it rest before slicing to allow the layers to set.

4. Risotto alla Milanese

Risotto alla Milanese is a luxurious Italian rice dish flavored with saffron, giving it a vibrant yellow hue. This dish originated in Milan and is made by slowly cooking Arborio rice with onions, white wine, broth, Parmesan cheese, and saffron. The slow cooking process allows the rice to release its starches, creating a creamy texture without the need for cream. Serve Risotto alla Milanese as a primo (first course) or as a side dish to accompany meat or seafood.

5. Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad is a simple yet flavorful Italian salad that showcases the colors of the Italian flag—red, green, and white. It is made with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil leaves, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. To assemble the salad, layer slices of tomato and mozzarella on a plate, alternating with fresh basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve Caprese Salad as a refreshing appetizer or side dish.

6. Tiramisu

Tiramisu is a beloved Italian dessert made with layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers, mascarpone cheese, cocoa powder, and sometimes rum or Marsala wine. To make Tiramisu, dip ladyfingers in a mixture of coffee and alcohol, then layer them with a creamy mixture of mascarpone cheese, sugar, and egg yolks. Repeat the layers and refrigerate the dessert for several hours to allow the flavors to meld together. Dust the top with cocoa powder before serving for an elegant finish.

7. Eggplant Parmigiana

Eggplant Parmigiana, also known as Melanzane alla Parmigiana, is a classic Italian dish made with layers of fried eggplant slices, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and Parmesan cheese. To prepare Eggplant Parmigiana, slice the eggplant, dredge it in flour, dip it in beaten eggs, and then coat it in breadcrumbs before frying until golden brown. Layer the fried eggplant with marinara sauce and cheeses, then bake until bubbly and golden. Serve this comforting dish with crusty bread or a side salad.

8. Fettuccine Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo is a creamy pasta dish that originated in Rome. It consists of fettuccine pasta tossed in a rich sauce made with butter, heavy cream, and Parmesan cheese. To prepare Fettuccine Alfredo, cook the pasta until al dente, then toss it with the hot sauce until evenly coated. The heat from the pasta melts the cheese, creating a velvety sauce that clings to the noodles. Before serving, top with chopped parsley and more Parmesan cheese.

9. Cioppino

Cioppino is a hearty Italian-American seafood stew that originated in San Francisco. It is made with a variety of fresh seafood such as shrimp, clams, mussels, crab, and fish, simmered in a flavorful tomato-based broth with onions, garlic, white wine, and herbs. Cioppino is typically served with crusty bread for dipping into the savory broth. This dish is perfect for a special occasion or a comforting meal on a cold day.

10. Margherita Pizza

Margherita Pizza is a classic Neapolitan pizza topped with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil leaves, olive oil, and salt. It was named after Queen Margherita of Italy and was created to represent the colors of the Italian flag—red (tomatoes), white (mozzarella), and green (basil). To make Margherita Pizza, stretch pizza dough into a circle, top with sliced tomatoes, torn mozzarella cheese, and basil leaves, then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Put it in the oven until the top turns yellow and the cheese starts to bubble.

11. Gnocchi alla Sorrentina

Gnocchi alla Sorrentina is a classic Italian dish made with potato dumplings (gnocchi), marinara sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese, and basil. To prepare Gnocchi alla Sorrentina, cook the gnocchi until they float to the surface, then toss them with marinara sauce. Transfer the gnocchi to a baking dish, top with slices of fresh mozzarella cheese and basil leaves, then bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve this comforting dish with a green salad and crusty bread.

12. Panzanella

Panzanella is a Tuscan bread salad made with stale bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, basil, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. This rustic salad is perfect for using up leftover bread and showcases the fresh flavors of summer. To make Panzanella, tear the bread into bite-sized pieces and soak them in water to soften. Squeeze out the excess water, then toss the bread with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and basil. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar, season with salt and pepper, and let the salad sit for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.

13. Cannoli

Cannoli are iconic Italian pastries originating from Sicily. They consist of crispy fried pastry shells filled with a sweet ricotta cheese mixture flavored with sugar, vanilla, and sometimes chocolate chips or candied fruit. To make Cannoli, roll out pastry dough, cut it into circles, and wrap them around metal cannoli tubes. Fry the shells until golden brown, then fill them with the ricotta mixture using a pastry bag. For a tasty treat, sprinkle powdered sugar on the ends and top with chopped nuts or chocolate bits.

14. Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup is a hearty Italian vegetable soup made with a variety of seasonal vegetables, beans, pasta or rice, tomatoes, and herbs. It is a versatile dish that can be made with whatever vegetables are on hand, making it perfect for using up leftovers. To make Minestrone Soup, sauté onions, carrots, celery, and garlic in olive oil until softened, then add diced tomatoes, broth, and vegetables such as beans, potatoes, zucchini, and cabbage. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, then stir in cooked pasta or rice. That’s a full meal when served hot with toasted bread.

15. Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe is a classic pasta dish from the Puglia region of Italy. It features ear-shaped pasta (orecchiette) tossed with sautéed broccoli rabe, garlic, red pepper flakes, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. To prepare this dish, blanch the broccoli rabe in boiling water, then sauté it with garlic and red pepper flakes until tender. Toss the cooked pasta with the broccoli rabe mixture and Parmesan cheese, then drizzle with olive oil before serving. This dish is simple yet flavorful, perfect for a quick weeknight dinner.

16. Amaretti Cookies

Amaretti Cookies are traditional Italian almond cookies with a crisp exterior and chewy interior. They are made with almond flour, sugar, egg whites, and almond extract, giving them a rich almond flavor. To make Amaretti Cookies, whip the egg whites until frothy, then fold in the almond flour, sugar, and almond extract until a smooth dough forms. Roll the dough into balls, then roll them in powdered sugar before baking until golden brown. You can dip these cookies in coffee or eat them as a sweet treat after dinner.


Embark on a culinary journey through Italy’s culinary past with these 16 Old-World Italian recipes. From the rustic charm of Eggplant Parmigiana to the decadent indulgence of Tiramisu, each dish offers a glimpse into Italy’s rich gastronomic history. Whether you’re a seasoned home cook or a novice in the kitchen, these recipes are sure to delight your taste buds and transport you to the sun-drenched shores of the Mediterranean. Celebrate tradition, family, and the joy of sharing a meal with loved ones as you savor the timeless flavors of Old-World Italian cuisine. Buon appetito!


1. What makes Old-World Italian food different from modern Italian cuisine? Old-World Italian food emphasizes simplicity, using fresh, locally sourced ingredients and time-honored cooking methods. Traditional recipes are often passed down through generations, preserving cultural heritage and regional flavors.

2. Can I easily find the ingredients for these recipes outside of Italy? Many ingredients for Old-World Italian recipes are readily available in supermarkets worldwide, while some specialty items may require a visit to an Italian deli or gourmet food store. With globalization, sourcing authentic Italian ingredients has become more accessible, allowing food enthusiasts to recreate these classic dishes at home with ease.

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