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Five Classic Northern Italian Dishes

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When most people think of authentic Italian food, they tend to think of various types of pastas in tomato-based sauce, but there is so much more to Italian food than just pasta. Northern Italy borders Slovenia, Switzerland, Austria and France. It is also a largely mountainous area, and as such, their cuisine reflects a rugged climate rather than the typical Mediterranean fare. Here is a look at several dishes to try the next time you visit your favorite Italian restaurant.

Italian Beef Carbonade

This dish consists of a cheaper cut of beef that is slowly simmered in red wine with onions and garlic. The spices used to flavor it include orange peel, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, cloves, and thyme. It is frequently served over pappardelle noodles, a wide, flat noodle.

Bagna Cauda

Popular in the Piedmont region, bagna cauda, which translates as "hot bath," is similar to the Swiss dish fondue, but cheese isn't typically included. Instead, walnut, hazelnut, or olive oil is combined with garlic, anchovies, and butter. This mixture is heated until just warm, and occasionally cream will be added. Assorted vegetables and breads are then dipped into the mixture. This dish is common in the winter months.

Riso Alla Pitocca                      

This favorite comfort food is essentially the Italian version of chicken and rice. The holy trinity of cooking, celery, carrots, and onions, called mirepoix in French, are sautéed. Once that is done, all that's left to do is add cooked chicken, the Arborio rice, and chicken broth. When the rice has finished absorbing the chicken broth, the dish is done. It is topped with butter, fresh parsley, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and if available, shaved truffles.


Considered peasant food, canederli are bread dumplings made from leftover stale bread, eggs, milk, and flour. Fontina cheese is occasionally added. The dumplings are cooked in a pot of sauerkraut and braised pork, or simply boiled in vegetable stock and then served with the broth.

Trota Prelibata

With cold Alpine mountain streams and lakes plentiful in northern Italy, trout and other freshwater fish are common on the menu. "Trota prelibata" is trout that is served with polenta. Both rice and polenta, a dish of boiled cornmeal, are more popular than pasta in the northern regions. Polenta can be served as a thick porridge, similar in consistency to creamy mashed potatoes, or it may be chilled in a loaf pan until it solidifies, and then cut into slices and fried. 

For more information, contact companies like Villa Romana Italian Restaurant.