If you’ve been curious about what Italians eat, you’re in for a treat! This blog post will explore the typical Italian diet and discuss some of the most popular dishes.

Keep in mind that there is no one “Italian” diet – different regions of Italy have their unique cuisine. But Italians enjoy simple, hearty meals made with fresh ingredients. So without further ado, let’s dive into Italian food!

What do Italians Eat?

Italian food is known for its delicious ingredients, like tomatoes, olive oil and cheese. Italians eat homemade meals with fresh local produce they can pick up at the market or grow in their gardens.

One common misconception about Italian food is that it’s all pasta and pizza. While these dishes are popular, Italians enjoy many other meals, like soups and stews. This is why this cuisine is considered one of the healthiest in the world!

The Italian diet also includes plenty of vegetables, including greens like arugula, kale and spinach. Typical meals consist of small portions with a variety of items. For example, an Italian might have pasta with tomato sauce and a side salad for lunch.

So, let’s explore a day in the life of an Italian.

breakfast croissant cappuccino
Breakfast croissant and cappuccino.

What Do Italians Eat For Breakfast?

A breakfast in Italy, referred to as “colazione“, isn’t meant to be a filling meal. Rather, its purpose is to give you an energy boost and get your digestion up and running for the day ahead. Quickly consumed on the go or at home, Italian breakfast offers many delightful options worth exploring!

Most Italians start their day with a cappuccino. Coffee is an important part of the Italian lifestyle and a great way to energize! To accompany their coffee, Italians might enjoy a croissant or cornetti, similar to a croissant but shaped into an S-shape. Italians also eat savory items such as eggs and toast.

Simplicity is the main theme when it comes to morning meals in Italy!

What Do Italians Eat For Lunch?

Lunch is the day’s main meal, lasting up to two hours! If you plan to eat lunch with locals, block out time.

A typical Italian lunch consists of a primo (pasta, soup or risotto dish), a secondo (meat or fish-based dish) and a contorno (side dish). Italians love their carbs and enjoy adding freshly grated Parmesan cheese to their dishes.

Italians also exhibit a truly incredible talent for reinventing leftovers. Rather than discarding meals, they relish the opportunity to transform them into something new and delicious at lunchtime! So don’t be shocked if yesterday’s dinner is served with an ingenious spin on it today.

Once the main course is finished, Italians enjoy a light dessert like a piece of fruit or gelato. If you’re looking for a midday pick-me-up, why not treat yourself to a freshly brewed espresso?  This can help revitalize your energy after lunch and keep you going until the end of the day.

If plain black coffee isn’t your tea, try a delicious macchiato—an espresso with just enough warm milk added in for extra flavor!

italian pasta
Italian pasta, olives, and tomatoes.

What Do Italians Eat For Dinner?

After a busy day, dinner is the perfect time for family to reconnect and unwind. Everyone gathers around the table to share stories about their day, appreciate one anothers company, and enjoy quality time together. There’s nothing like slowing down before bedtime with delicious food shared among your loved ones.

So what do Italians eat for dinner?

To ensure a good night’s sleep, dinner is usually lighter than lunch and enjoyed around seven or eight in the evening for optimal digestion. Most dinners consist of a salad, the primo (pasta or soup dish) and the secondo (meat or fish dish).

The Italians also enjoy cooked vegetables like artichokes, eggplants, mushrooms, spinach and zucchini, which they either buy at the market or grow in their gardens. A typical dinner might include a plate of fresh, seasonal fruits like apples, figs or oranges to round out the meal. You will sleep like a baby after an Italian dinner!

wine and Italian food
An Italian meal with wine.

What Do Italians Drink With Their Meals?

Italians enjoy pairing their meals with wine, beer or spirits. For breakfast, they mostly drink coffee, tea and juices. Meanwhile, lunch and dinner are often accompanied by white or red wines.

If you’re searching for something different to drink with your meal, try an Italian spritz—an alcoholic cocktail made with Campari, Prosecco and soda. As for beer, the most popular brands include Peroni and Moretti. Limoncello is a traditional Italian liqueur made from lemons that have commonly enjoyed after meals as a digestive aid.

No matter what kind of drink you choose to accompany your meal, Italians believe it’s important to eat with gusto and savour every bite. Enjoying your food with family and friends is also crucial to the dining experience!

What Do Italians Have For Snacks?

Aside from their meals, Italians are big snackers—especially when indulging in snacks late into the night. Snacking is an important part of Italian culture because it keeps hunger at bay between meals and helps maintain an even level of energy throughout the day.

Popular Italian snacks include frittatas, bruschetta, piadina, focaccia and panini. You can also find plenty of savory snacks in Italian supermarkets, like potato chips and nuts.

For a sweet snack, try traditional Italian pastries like cannoli or biscotti. If you’re looking for something to satisfy your chocolate craving, look no further than classic Italian treats such as gelato and gelato sticks.

So next time you’re hungry between meals, why not try some Italian snacks? There’s something for everyone!

Wrap Up

Italian cuisine is full of flavor, color and culture. By learning about what Italians eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, you can appreciate how meals are a major part of Italian life.

Whether it’s transforming leftovers into something new or enjoying an espresso after lunch, Italy has something delicious in store for every appetite! Buon appetito!

If you’re ever in NYC make sure you stop in to SESAMO and try some of our traditional Italian dishes or some our more exclusive dishes that mix Asian and Italian flavors together to create something new and flavorful.