Central Italy

Abruzzi-Molise is a mountainous region that stretches from the Adriatic Sea to the high peaks of the Apennine Mountains. The most famous dish of the region is maccheroni alla chitarra—long fresh pasta noodles served with tomato sauce flavored with sweet peppers and pork fat and sprinkled with pecorino cheese. Chitarra means “guitar” and refers to the guitar-shaped wooden implement used to cut the fresh pasta. Sheep are raised in the mountains, so lamb is the main meat of this area. Lamb is usually roasted, fried, or cooked “alla cacciatora” (sautéed with red peppers and tomato sauce). The local shepherds are also “masters” of cheese making; pecorino and scamorza (smoked mozzarella) are the two most famous cheese products of the area.

In the region of Rome-Lazio, specialty dishes include bucatini all'Amatriciana (pasta in a tomato sauce with onion, pancetta, and a dash of cognac) or bucatini alla carbonara (pasta with a creamy egg and cheese sauce), gnocchi alla Romana, saltimbocca (a fillet of veal rolled in ham and flavored with sage, cooked in butter, and served with a Marsala sauce), and abbacchio al forno (roast lamb) or abbacchio alla cacciatora (lamb with an anchovy and rosemary sauce).

Sardinia is the second largest island in Italy (after Sicily). With its rocky terrain the land of Sardinia is not conducive to growing anything. Hence, the region is famous for its bread, which Sardinian women bake lovingly in large ovens. Otherwise, most dishes of note are seafood based. Burrida (the famous fish stew of the area), calamaretti ripieni (stuffed baby squid), and spaghetti alla rustica (country-style spaghetti with anchovy and oregano sauce) are famous Sardinian dishes.

In Umbria-Marche, the cooking is known for its use of the prized black truffle. Specially trained dogs and even pigs with a highly delicate sense of smell are sent out to search for these hidden treasures buried in the soil. Also famous for their pork dishes, Umbrians cook the meat in the oven or roast it on spits. In the classic dish arrosto alla ghiotta, a cooking pan or dish is placed under the spit to collect the fat drippings from the roasting meat. White wine, vinegar, lemon slices, sage leaves, and black olives are placed all together in the dish. As the boiling fat drips into the mixture, it releases an aromatic vapor that is infused into the roasting meat as it rises.

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