21 Must-Have Italian Cookbooks for Eating Your Way Through Italy
Find an Italian cookbook that will expand and enrich your love for this beautiful cuisine, one region at a time.
Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
by Marcella Hazan
Often called the “Julia Child of Italian cooking,” Marcella Hazan loves to put flavor first. Though there are no pictures in Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, the recipes in this Italian cookbook are easy to follow and allow for cooks of any level to shine. To start, make homemade pasta, experiment with risotto and perfect your passata (tomato sauce).
Notable recipe: Tomato Sauce with Onion & Butter. You’re probably thinking, how can three simple ingredients be so wonderful? Drizzle it over a plate of your pasta for a surprise—it’s one of Hazan’s most well-known recipes for a reason!
Food and Memories of Abruzzo
by Anna Teresa Callen
To Anna Teresa Callen, stories are inseparable from recipes. This thoughtful cookbook gives attention to Abruzzo’s location between the sea and mountains, uses fresh seasonal ingredients and offers sound guidance on how to transform leftovers into something delectable and new.
Notable recipe: Fiadone Villese is an Easter recipe, but this cheesy baked goodness is a treat all year long. Similarly, deep-fried and honey-soaked Cicerchiata should not be skipped.
Cucina in Valle D’Aosta
by Stefano Torrione
For the colder seasons, there is nothing better than the rustic and cozy cuisine of the Aosta Valley. In this beautiful book, Stefano Torrione explores the earthy flavors of this mountainous region in Northwest Italy, known for fonduta (Italian cheese fondue), gnocchi and hearty rye breads.
Notable recipe: Give your stale bread new life with some Fonduta alla Valdostana (Aosta Valley fondue), a true staple of the region.
Puglia in Cucina
by William Dello Russo, Pietro Zito, Lillino Silibello and Peppe Zullo
Through beautiful photographs and short stories, this cookbook unites Apulia’s love for ingredients from the land and sea. It doesn’t hold back with its attention to typical proteins in the area such as donkey meat, but nonetheless offers easily replicable (and delicious) results with lamb.
Notable recipe: One cannot visit Puglia without trying some Orecchiette con le Cime di Rapa (orecchiette with broccoli rabe). The complementary salty punches of pecorino, anchovies and red pepper flakes radiate on the tongue.
Food of the Italian South
by Katie Parla
Ideas about Italian food and cuisine tend to be based on recipes typically found in the South of Italy. Platefuls of pasta, tomato notes, oozing cheeses, Italian sausage and peppery kicks are core components. In Food of the Italian South, Katie Parla gives an overview of several southern regions, giving appreciation to iconic and underappreciated dishes from each.
Notable recipe: Basilicata’s springtime stew, Ciaudedda, is an easy-to-make, culinary tour of the region’s most beloved produce. Spezzatino all’Uva (pork with red grapes) from Molise is an unexpected combination, but sure to please.
by Rosetta Costantino and Janet Fletcher
Blending stories, recipes and travel tips, the authors transport us effortlessly to Calabria. Use this Italian cookbook to try your hand at making Calabrian-style stuffed pizza to accompany spicy homemade fennel sausage or even fresh ricotta. The true gems of this book are the preservation recipes and techniques; with some effort, you can ensure Calabrian tastes all year.
Notable recipe: Mastering Conserva di Pomodoro (tomato preserves) is the “secret” ingredient to perfecting Calabrian and many other Italian cuisines.
Naples at Table
by Arthur Schwartz
As the first cookbook in English to present Campania’s rich cuisine, Schwartz’s Naples at Table is a classic. The book is full of indulgent classic recipes which are complemented with history and culture to make sense of it all. There’s much to love and discover in the region that invented pizza!
Notable recipe: Be sure to try some mouthwatering Calzoncini (stuffed fried dough crescents) or wonderfully sweet Zeppole di San Giuseppe (St. Joseph’s Day crullers).
The Splendid Table
by Lynne Rossetto Kasper
Emilia-Romagna is home to an overwhelming amount of Italian treats: Parmigiano-Reggiano, balsamic vinegar, Prosciutto di Parmai. It’s hard not to be entranced by this region’s specialties. Lynne Kasper’s simple yet hearty recipes in The Splendid Table will inspire home cooks, regardless of their skill level. Without compromising flavor, Kasper also provides more health-conscious alternatives for some of the more extravagant ingredients.
Notable recipe: While there are many ways to roast a chicken, Kasper’s Pollo al forno con aceto balsamico (Balsamic roast chicken) is absolutely splendid.
Friuli Food and Wine
by Bobby Stuckey, Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson and Meredith Erickson
Known for their James Beard Award-winning restaurant Frasca, chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Pattern and sommelier Bobby Stuckey join forces with food writer Meredith Erickson to celebrate the food and cuisine of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. In this cookbook, flip through dishes inspired by the hearty mountains and refreshing seaside, before easily pairing them with the perfect glass of wine.
Notable recipe: Burrata with Peach, Tomato, Watermelon and Summer Herbs—this refreshing salad is sure to keep summertime bliss nearby.
The Roads to Rome
by Jarrett Wrisley and Paolo Vitaletti
“All roads lead to Rome”—yes, even when it comes to ingredients. This beautifully photographed Italian cookbook shows the richness of Roman cuisine and its relationship with surrounding areas of the Lazio region. In The Roads to Rome, discover the origins of several Roman dishes, such as the iconic spaghetti all’amatriciana.
Notable recipe: Try Parmigiana di melanzane (eggplant parmigiana) or Castelluccio lentils with sausage for your next wholesome meal.
Liguria: The Cookbook
by Laurel Evans
Laurel Evans’ journey to Liguria is inspirational at times, with beautiful food and landscape photographs capturing the charms of the region. Aside from being well-organized and well-written, this cookbook’s recipes are clear and accessible—a treat for everyone willing to learn more about the land of pesto and focaccia!
Notable recipe: Frisceu (fried dough) make amazing appetizers, as well as tasty accompaniments to a charcuterie board.
Recipes from Milan and Lombardy
by Slow Food Editore
Widely admired for its desserts Panettone and Colomba, Lombardian cuisine is also known for its love of butter over olive oil, stuffed pastas and Cotoletta alla Milanese (breaded cutlet). In this handy collection, the Slow Food movement outlines the classic dishes of the region with appreciation for their histories and delicious variations.
Notable recipe: The beauty and simplicity of the golden Risotto alla Milanese is a must-try. Its creaminess is matched with bursts of both broth and saffron.
A Passion for Piedmont
by Matt Kramer
In A Passion for Piedmont, Matt Kramer provides a comprehensive guide to Piedmont cuisine, Italy’s region “at the foot of the mountains.” Traverse through recipes featuring ingredients like truffles, polenta, anchovies, as well as the world-famous wines like barbera or barolo. With Kramer’s enthusiasm, you’ll happily add some Piemonte inspiration to your next meal.
Notable recipe: Bagna Cauda (garlic and anchovy sauce) is a classic regional staple; pair it with polenta or other vegetables. When it’s cold out, nothing beats Turin’s historical Bicerin (warm coffee and chocolate beverage) which dates back to the 18th century! (We love these old-world Italian recipes, too.)
Sweet Myrtle and Bitter Honey
by Efisio Farris and Jim Eber
In this cookbook, Sardinian chef Efisio Farris weaves together dozens of family recipes which define his upbringing on the magical island. With bits of history, as well as dashes of olive oil and saffron, Farris captures Sardinian cuisine’s unique mix of various Mediterranean traditions and flavors.
Notable recipe: The Cambaros kin frutta (shrimp with orange and chicory) is sure to make you and your guests swoon.
The Sicily Cookbook
by Cettina Vicenzino
Cook and photographer Cettina Vicenzino depicts a colorful image of Sicily in this beautiful tome; from the first page, you’re instantly transported there. This extraordinary collection of recipes highlights several core regional ingredients such as eggplants, tomatoes and seafood—celebrating the many ways that they can be deliciously prepared.
Notable recipe: Eggplant lovers should try Pasta alla norma, while those with a sweet tooth must add Cassata to their dessert line-up.
Cucina of Le Marche
by Fabio Trabocchi
Award-winning chef Fabio Trabocchi dives into the delicate blend of the cuisine of Le Marche, whose culinary influences and techniques also draw from parts of Greece and Northern Africa. This book is complex at times, but not pretentious. You won’t find any Americanized Italian food in here, but you will find a love of meat, seafood and a deep appreciation for Marchian cuisine.
Notable recipe: A bowl of savory Brodetto (fish stew) truly can warm the soul.
Eat & Love Trentino-Alto Adige
by Aldo Giannini
The food and cuisine of Trentino-Alto Adige is at the crossroads of Italian, Alpine and central European traditions and flavors. Servings of polenta or pasta piled high with cheese and mushrooms are placed alongside goulash, dumplings and heaps of sauerkraut on a regular basis. Giannini’s minimalist, yet thoughtful book, highlights such combinations without frills—just dedication to authenticity.
Notable recipe: Zuppa di Gulasch (goulash soup), with its tender cuts of meat and smoky flavor profile needs to be in your soup rotation.
The Tuscan Sun Cookbook
by Edward Kleinschmidt Mayes and Frances Mayes
This book is a treat for both the eyes and the stomach; vivid writing coupled with breathtaking food photography allows for the simple recipes to shine. These recipes honor the Italian cooking philosophy of quality over quantity, and you will not be disappointed. Fill your home with the smells of ragu, fried zucchini flowers and more.
Notable recipe: The fennel and citrus salad is a crisp reminder of how sunshine can be consumed, while Fiorella’s red pepper tart makes a great main or potluck dish to share.
by Julia Della Croce
Known for its use of black truffles, wild asparagus and pork, the sprawling hills of Umbria are home to earthy and rustic dishes. Julia Della Croce pieces together bits of Umbrian folklore and history to share the food of the region in this lovely tribute.
Notable recipe: Penci pasta with sausage, lemon, and nutmeg sauce perfectly summarizes the full and rounded flavors of Umbria.
Veneto: Recipes from an Italian Country Kitchen
by Valeria Necchio
Veneto is more than the home of Venice and pinot grigio! Divided into three sections, Valeria Necchio’s cookbook is all about nostalgic childhood food memories. You’ll find simple recipes featuring fresh seafood, herbs, legumes and loads of vegetables.
Notable recipe: For when you’re feeling something earthy, cozy and warming, try out the Poenta e funghi (polenta with wild mushrooms and grana cheese). When you’re eager to impress your family or dinner guests, nothing says “dazzle” more than the Bigoi col Ragù de anara (bigoli with duck ragu).
by The Italian Academy of Cuisine
This is an entire encyclopedia of Italian gastronomic goodness. To put together this cookbook, a team of chefs from the Italian Academy of Cuisine went from region to region interviewing every grandma they encountered. This is a must-have for those interested in the novelties of each region of Italy.
Notable recipe: Mastering the simple yet decadent carbonara is a must.
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