From comforting classics to regional specialties, discover the rich and diverse world of Italian food that begins with the letter ‘N.’
1. Neapolitan Pizza
Neapolitan pizza is a traditional Italian dish that originated in Naples. It is known for its thin, soft, and chewy crust, which is typically topped with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and extra-virgin olive oil. Neapolitan pizza is traditionally cooked in a wood-fired oven at high temperatures, resulting in a slightly charred and blistered crust. It is a beloved classic in Italian cuisine and has gained worldwide popularity.
Nduja is a spicy, spreadable pork sausage that hails from Calabria, a region in southern Italy. It is made by grinding together pork, Calabrian chili peppers, salt, and various spices. The mixture is then cured for several months, allowing the flavors to develop. Nduja has a soft, spreadable texture and a fiery, tangy taste. It is commonly used as a condiment or ingredient in pasta sauces, on pizzas, or as a flavorful addition to sandwiches.
Nutella is a well-known and beloved Italian chocolate-hazelnut spread. It was created by the Italian company Ferrero and has become a staple in many households worldwide. Nutella is made from a combination of roasted hazelnuts, cocoa powder, sugar, palm oil, and milk powder. It has a smooth and creamy texture with a rich, chocolatey flavor balanced by the sweetness of the hazelnuts. Nutella is enjoyed on toast, pastries, pancakes, and is also used as a filling for cakes and pastries.
4. Nocciola Gelato
Nocciola gelato is a delicious Italian gelato flavor that showcases the irresistible taste of hazelnuts. It is made by infusing milk, cream, sugar, and hazelnuts together to create a creamy base. The mixture is then churned in an ice cream maker until it reaches a smooth and velvety consistency. Nocciola gelato has a rich and nutty flavor, with the natural sweetness of the hazelnuts shining through. It is a popular choice among gelato lovers and is often enjoyed on its own or combined with other flavors in a gelato sundae or cone.
Nocciolato is an Italian dessert that features a combination of chocolate and hazelnuts. It typically consists of a creamy chocolate-hazelnut filling encased in a layer of chocolate. The name “nocciolato” is derived from the Italian word for hazelnut, “nocciola.” This delectable treat offers a delightful balance between the richness of chocolate and the nutty flavor of hazelnuts, making it a favorite among chocolate lovers and those who appreciate the distinct taste of hazelnuts.
6. Nocino Cake
Nocino cake is a delightful dessert that incorporates the flavors of nocino liqueur. It is a moist and tender cake typically made with ingredients such as flour, sugar, eggs, butter, and, of course, nocino liqueur. The nocino liqueur adds a unique and aromatic dimension to the cake, infusing it with the distinctive flavors of walnuts and spices. Nocino cake can be enjoyed on its own or paired with a dollop of whipped cream or a dusting of powdered sugar for an extra touch of sweetness.
7. Nocellara Olives
Nocellara olives, also known as Castelvetrano olives, are a type of green olive that is native to Sicily, Italy. These olives are prized for their large size, firm texture, and vibrant green color. Nocellara olives have a buttery and mildly fruity flavor, with a hint of sweetness. They are often enjoyed as table olives, used in antipasto platters, or incorporated into various Mediterranean dishes. Nocellara olives are versatile and add a burst of flavor to salads, pasta dishes, and even pizzas.
8. Nocellara del Belice Olive Oil
Nocellara del Belice olive oil is a high-quality extra virgin olive oil that is produced in the Belice Valley of Sicily, Italy. It is made from the Nocellara del Belice variety of olives, which are grown in the region. This olive oil is known for its rich and fruity flavor profile, with hints of grassiness and a peppery finish. It is often used as a finishing oil to enhance the flavors of salads, grilled vegetables, seafood, and other dishes. Nocellara del Belice olive oil is highly regarded for its superior quality and is a staple in Mediterranean cuisine.
Nespole or Nespola, also known as loquats, are a type of fruit that is native to China but widely cultivated in Italy and other Mediterranean countries. These small, round fruits have a sweet and slightly tangy flavor, reminiscent of a combination of peach, citrus, and mango. Nespole are often eaten fresh and can be enjoyed on their own or used in desserts, jams, and preserves. They are also popular in cocktails, fruit salads, and as a topping for yogurt or ice cream.
10. Nidi di Rondine
Nidi di Rondine, which translates to “swallow’s nest” in English, is an Italian pasta dish that is popular in Tuscan cuisine. It is a baked pasta dish made with lasagna sheets that are rolled and filled with a mixture of cheese, typically ricotta or mozzarella, and spinach or other vegetables. The rolled lasagna sheets are then arranged in a baking dish, topped with a tomato sauce, and baked until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Nidi di Rondine is a comforting and flavorful dish, often served as a main course or as part of a larger Italian meal.
Nodini, meaning “little knots” in Italian, are a type of bread or bread roll typically found in Italian cuisine. These small, knotted breads are often made with pizza dough or bread dough and can be flavored with various ingredients such as herbs, cheese, or garlic. Nodini are usually baked until golden brown and have a soft and chewy texture. They are commonly served as an appetizer, snack, or accompaniment to meals, and can be enjoyed on their own or dipped in sauces or spreads.
12. Nocino Biscotti
Nocino biscotti are traditional Italian cookies that incorporate the flavors of nocino liqueur. Nocino is a dark, walnut-based liqueur originating from Italy, particularly the Emilia-Romagna region. Nocino biscotti are made by combining typical biscotti ingredients such as flour, sugar, eggs, and butter with a splash of nocino liqueur. The dough is shaped into logs, baked until golden and crisp, and then sliced into individual cookies. These biscotti have a delightful crunch and a subtle nutty flavor with hints of spices from the nocino liqueur. They are often enjoyed alongside a cup of coffee or tea, or as a sweet treat on their own.
13. Nocino Semifreddo
Nocino semifreddo is a frozen dessert that features the flavors of nocino liqueur. Semifreddo is a popular Italian dessert that translates to “half-cold” in English, referring to its semi-frozen texture. Nocino semifreddo is prepared by combining whipped cream, sugar, and nocino liqueur, creating a light and creamy mixture. This mixture is then frozen until it reaches a semi-frozen consistency, similar to that of ice cream. Nocino semifreddo offers a luscious and smooth texture with a rich and nutty flavor from the nocino liqueur. It is often served in scoops or slices and can be garnished with crushed nuts or a drizzle of nocino for added decadence.
14. Nuvola Cake
Nuvola cake, meaning “cloud cake” in Italian, is a heavenly dessert that captures the essence of lightness and delicacy. This cake is typically made with layers of soft and airy sponge cake that are generously filled with a fluffy and creamy filling, such as whipped cream, mousse, or custard. Nuvola cake is known for its ethereal texture and can be flavored with various ingredients such as vanilla, chocolate, fruit, or liqueurs. The cake layers are often decorated with a dusting of powdered sugar or cocoa powder, giving it a cloud-like appearance. Nuvola cake is a delightful dessert that is perfect for special occasions or as a sweet indulgence to lift your spirits.
15. Nodini al Pesto
Nodini al pesto are a delicious Italian dish that combines nodini, which are small knots of bread, with the vibrant flavors of pesto sauce. Pesto sauce is a traditional Italian sauce made from fresh basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. In this dish, the nodini are typically toasted or baked until they have a crispy exterior, and then tossed in a generous amount of pesto sauce. The result is a delightful combination of crunchy bread and aromatic, herbaceous pesto. Nodini al pesto can be enjoyed as an appetizer, snack, or served alongside a salad or pasta dish.
Noci, simply meaning “nuts” in Italian, are a versatile and nutritious nut commonly used in Italian cuisine. Nuts are used in a variety of Italian dishes, both sweet and savory. They are a key ingredient in traditional desserts such as torta della nonna (grandmother’s cake) and biscotti, adding a rich and nutty flavor. In savory dishes, nuts are often incorporated into sauces, such as pesto, or used as a topping for pasta dishes and salads. With their distinctive taste and crunchy texture, noci are an essential ingredient in Italian cooking.
Necci is a traditional Italian dessert originating from the region of Tuscany. These thin pancakes are made from a batter consisting of chestnut flour, water, and a pinch of salt. The batter is cooked on a hot griddle or skillet until the necci become golden and slightly crispy. Once cooked, they can be enjoyed in various ways. Necci can be rolled or folded and filled with sweet ingredients such as ricotta cheese, honey, or Nutella, creating a delicious treat. The combination of the earthy chestnut flavor with the creamy filling or sweet spreads makes necci a delightful dessert or snack option. This Tuscan specialty showcases the use of chestnut flour, a traditional ingredient in Italian cuisine.
18. Nervetti alla veneziana
Nervetti alla veneziana is an Italian dish that originates from Venice, Italy. “Nervetti” refers to beef or veal tendons, and “alla veneziana” indicates the Venetian style of preparation. This dish involves cooking and preparing the tendons to create a flavorful and tender result. The tendons are first simmered or braised until they become soft and gelatinous. They are then typically sliced thinly and marinated in a mixture of vinegar, olive oil, garlic, parsley, and sometimes onions. The marinade infuses the tendons with a tangy and aromatic flavor. Nervetti alla veneziana is often served as an antipasto (appetizer) or as part of a cold salad. It provides a unique texture and taste experience, with the tendons offering a slightly chewy and gelatinous texture paired with the vibrant flavors of the marinade.
Navone refers to parsnips, which are a root vegetable commonly used in Italian cuisine. Parsnips have a slightly sweet and nutty flavor, and they are versatile in their preparation. They can be boiled, roasted, fried, or added to stews and soups to enhance their flavor and texture. Boiled or roasted parsnips can be served as a side dish, either mashed or in chunks. They can also be used as an ingredient in various Italian recipes, such as soups like minestrone or as an addition to braised meat dishes. The mild sweetness and earthy undertones of parsnips add depth and complexity to a wide range of Italian dishes, making them a popular choice in many culinary preparations.
Ncapriata is an Apulian dish that features fava beans and wild greens. It is often prepared as a soup or purée, showcasing the flavors of these ingredients. Fava beans, also known as broad beans, are a staple in Italian cuisine and are appreciated for their rich taste and creamy texture. Wild greens, which can include varieties such as chicory, dandelion greens, or wild spinach, add a slightly bitter and vibrant note to the dish. Ncapriata is typically made by cooking the fava beans until tender and then combining them with sautéed or blanched wild greens. The mixture is seasoned with olive oil, garlic, and sometimes chili pepper to add a kick of spice. The final result is a comforting and nutritious dish that highlights the freshness of the ingredients and reflects the flavors of the Apulian region in Southern Italy.
21. ‘Ndocca ‘Ndocca
‘Ndocca ‘ndocca is an Abruzzese dish that consists of various parts of a pig cut into chunks and stewed with chili peppers, herbs, vinegar, and spices. This hearty and flavorful dish showcases the traditional rustic cuisine of the Abruzzo region in central Italy. The pig parts used can include the head, trotters, and other cuts with ample amounts of connective tissue. These cuts are stewed slowly until tender, allowing the collagen in the meat to break down and create a rich and gelatinous texture. The dish is often seasoned with chili peppers for a spicy kick, along with herbs and spices to enhance the flavors. This is a traditional dish that reflects the rural culinary traditions of Abruzzo and is enjoyed as a comforting and satisfying meal.
Neonata is an Italian dish that features tiny fried fish. The name “neonata” translates to “newborn” in Italian, referring to the small size of the fish used. Typically, neonata consists of small fry fish such as anchovies or smelts. The fish are lightly breaded or dusted with flour and then fried until crispy and golden. Neonata is often served as an antipasto (appetizer) or as part of a seafood platter, accompanied by a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to enhance the flavors. This dish is particularly popular in coastal regions of Italy, where fresh seafood is abundant. It offers a delightful combination of crunchy texture, delicate fish flavors, and a tangy citrus note from the lemon.
Nepitella is a type of herb commonly found in Italy, especially in the central regions. It is also known as “wild mint” or “field mint” and is a close relative of the more widely known culinary herb, mint. Nepitella has a distinct aroma and flavor that is similar to mint but with a slightly earthier and more savory profile. It is used as a culinary herb in various Italian dishes, adding a fresh and herbaceous note to recipes. Nepitella is often used in soups, stews, sauces, and meat dishes, where its aromatic properties can enhance the overall flavors of the dish. It is particularly popular in Tuscany and Umbria, where it is considered a staple herb in the local cuisine.
24. Nidi di Carnevale
Nidi di Carnevale, meaning “Carnival nests,” is a traditional Tuscan dessert that embodies the festive spirit of Carnival season. This delightful sweet treat is made by creating ribbons of chocolate pasta dough, which are then coiled into nest-like shapes. These chocolate nests are deep-fried until they become crisp and golden. To enhance the flavors and add a touch of indulgence, the nests are served with a sauce made from honey, brandy, and blanched almonds. The combination of the crispy chocolate nests and the sweet, nutty sauce creates a delectable contrast of textures and flavors. Nidi di Carnevale is a beloved dessert during Carnival celebrations in Tuscany, offering a delightful and unique experience for those with a sweet tooth.
Nocciola refers to hazelnuts, which are one of the most widely used nuts in Italian cuisine. These flavorful nuts play a significant role in Italian cookery, finding their way into a variety of dishes. From pastries and chocolate candies to salads and sauces, hazelnuts add a distinctive nutty and slightly sweet flavor to recipes. In Italian desserts, nocciola is a common ingredient, especially in treats like hazelnut cakes, biscotti, and gelato. The rich and buttery taste of hazelnuts adds depth and complexity to desserts, creating a delightful combination of flavors. Hazelnuts are also commonly used to make homemade spreads like gianduja, which is a creamy chocolate-hazelnut spread enjoyed worldwide. Nocciola is a beloved ingredient in Italian cuisine, offering a delightful and versatile nutty flavor that enhances both sweet and savory dishes.
Nucatuli is a Sicilian pastry that holds a special place in the hearts and palates of Sicilians, especially during the Christmas season. The nucatoli are delicate pastry shells made from a mixture of flour, butter, sugar, and eggs. The dough is carefully rolled out and shaped into small oval discs. A delightful filling can be made from a combination of toasted almonds, walnuts, dried figs, orange zest, honey, and spices such as cinnamon and cloves is placed in the center of each pastry disc. The dough is then carefully folded over the filling, creating a seal to encase the delicious flavors within.