Italian Food That Starts With O

From the classic Orecchia di elefante to the tantalizing Olive all’ascolana, each dish presents a unique fusion of flavors that will transport your taste buds to the heart of Italian gastronomy. Get ready to embark on a flavorful journey through the world of Italian cuisine with these Italian foods starting with the letter ‘O’.

1. Orecchiette

Orecchiette is a type of pasta that originates from the southern region of Italy, particularly Apulia (Puglia). The name “orecchiette” translates to “little ears” in Italian, which perfectly describes their shape. These small, round discs of pasta have a slight indentation in the center, creating a bowl-like shape. Orecchiette is traditionally made from durum wheat semolina flour and water, giving it a firm texture that holds up well to sauces and toppings. It is commonly served with tomato-based sauces, broccoli rabe, or other hearty vegetable sauces. The unique shape of orecchiette allows it to capture and hold the sauce, making every bite flavorful and satisfying.

2. Osso buco

Osso buco is a classic Italian dish that features braised veal shanks. The name “osso buco” translates to “bone with a hole” in Italian, referring to the marrow-filled bone in the center of the veal shank. This dish is particularly popular in Milan (ossobuco alla Milanese), where it is traditionally prepared by slowly braising the veal shanks in a flavorful broth with vegetables, white wine, and aromatic herbs. The slow cooking process results in tender, succulent meat that easily falls off the bone. Osso buco is often served with a gremolata, which is a mixture of lemon zest, garlic, and parsley sprinkled over the top to add a bright and fresh flavor. It is commonly accompanied by saffron risotto or polenta, making it a rich and satisfying meal.

3. Olive all’ascolana

Olive all’ascolana is a delightful appetizer hailing from the town of Ascoli Piceno in the Marche region of Italy. These are fried stuffed olives that make for a delicious and indulgent snack. The olives used for this dish are typically large, green olives, such as the Ascolana Tenera variety. The olives are pitted and then stuffed with a mixture of seasoned meat, such as beef or pork, along with cheese, breadcrumbs, and sometimes herbs. The stuffed olives are then breaded and deep-fried until golden and crispy. The result is a delectable combination of briny olives and savory, flavorful filling. Olive all’ascolana is often served as a popular street food or as part of antipasti platters in Italian cuisine.

4. Orata

Orata, also known as gilthead sea bream, is a type of fish commonly found in the Mediterranean Sea. It is highly regarded in Italian cuisine for its delicate flavor and tender flesh. The orata has a distinctive appearance with its silver skin, yellow markings, and a protruding forehead. This fish is versatile and can be prepared in various ways, including grilling, baking, or steaming. It pairs well with fresh herbs, citrus, and olive oil, which enhance its natural flavors. Orata is a popular choice for seafood dishes in Italy, and its mild, slightly sweet taste makes it a favorite among seafood lovers.

5. Ossocollo

Ossocollo is a cured meat specialty from Italy. It refers to the pork collar, which is salted, seasoned, and air-dried to develop its distinctive flavor and texture. The meat is carefully selected and cured using traditional methods, often including a blend of herbs, spices, and sometimes wine. Ossocollo is typically sliced thinly and enjoyed as an antipasto or added to sandwiches and charcuterie boards. It has a rich, savory taste with a slightly salty and aromatic profile that makes it a delicious addition to Italian cuisine.

6. Orzo

Orzo is a versatile ingredient used in Italian cuisine. It can refer to two different food items: pearl barley and a type of pasta shaped like grains of barley.

Pearl barley is a whole grain that has been hulled and polished to remove the outer bran layer. It has a slightly chewy texture and a nutty flavor. Pearl barley is commonly used in soups, stews, risottos, and salads. It is a nutritious ingredient packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

The pasta version of orzo is a small, rice-shaped pasta that resembles grains of barley. It is made from durum wheat semolina flour and water. Orzo pasta is versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes, including soups, salads, and pasta-based recipes. It cooks relatively quickly and has a tender texture. Its small size allows it to absorb flavors well, making it a popular choice in Italian cuisine.

7. Olive ripiene

Olive ripiene, meaning “stuffed olives” in Italian, are a popular appetizer or antipasto in Italian cuisine. The olives are carefully pitted and then filled with a variety of flavorful fillings. Common fillings include minced meat, cheese, anchovies, or a combination of herbs and spices. The stuffed olives are often marinated in olive oil and sometimes vinegar to enhance their taste and preserve them. Olive ripiene offer a delightful contrast of textures and flavors, with the briny and meaty olive complemented by the savory filling. They are enjoyed as a tasty snack or served as part of an antipasto platter.

8. Ovoli

Ovoli, also known as Caesar’s mushrooms, are a type of mushroom that is highly regarded in Italian culinary traditions. These mushrooms have a distinct appearance, with a creamy white to pale yellow cap and a thick stem. Ovoli mushrooms are highly prized for their delicate flavor, which is often described as nutty or slightly sweet. They are typically harvested in the autumn season and are highly sought after by mushroom enthusiasts and chefs alike. Ovoli mushrooms are versatile and can be used in various dishes, including risottos, pasta sauces, sautés, and as a topping for pizzas and bruschetta. Their unique taste and texture make them a delightful addition to Italian cuisine.

9. Occhi di bue

Occhi di bue or occhio di bue, meaning “bull’s eyes” in Italian, are a type of biscuit or cookie that is filled with jam or chocolate. These round and crumbly cookies have a slightly sweet and buttery taste. They are typically made by sandwiching a dollop of jam or chocolate spread between two biscuit layers. The filling is often visible through a small hole or “eye” in the top biscuit layer, giving the cookie its distinctive appearance. Occhi di bue cookies are enjoyed as a treat on their own or paired with a cup of coffee or tea. They are a delightful combination of crispness and sweetness, making them a beloved choice among Italian dessert lovers.

10. Orata alla mediterranea

Orata alla mediterranea refers to Mediterranean-style sea bream, a popular fish preparation in Italian cuisine. Sea bream, also known as orata, is a type of fish that is commonly found in the Mediterranean Sea. It has tender, flaky flesh and a mild, slightly sweet taste. Orata alla mediterranea typically involves cooking the fish whole or as fillets and combining it with Mediterranean flavors and ingredients such as garlic, tomatoes, olives, capers, and herbs like rosemary and oregano. The fish is often baked, grilled, or cooked in a sauce to infuse it with the vibrant flavors of the Mediterranean region. Orata alla mediterranea is a delightful seafood dish that showcases the natural freshness of the fish and the aromatic qualities of the Mediterranean culinary tradition.

11. Orecchia di elefante

Orecchia di elefante, or elephant’s ear, is a traditional Milanese dish made with thinly sliced veal that resembles cutlets. The meat is lightly tenderized, then coated in breadcrumbs and fried in butter for a golden, crispy exterior. It is often served with a side of cherry tomatoes and rocket leaves, adding freshness to the dish. Orecchia di elefante showcases the flavors and culinary heritage of Milan, providing a delightful combination of tender meat, crunchy coating, and vibrant accompaniments.

12. Orzo freddo

Orzo freddo is a refreshing Italian dish that consists of a cold barley salad. In this dish, cooked barely is combined with a variety of fresh vegetables, such as cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and herbs like parsley or basil. The salad is typically dressed with a light vinaigrette made with olive oil, lemon juice, and seasonings. Orzo freddo is a versatile dish that can be customized with additional ingredients like olives, cheese, or grilled chicken for added flavor and texture. It is a perfect choice for warm weather or as a refreshing side dish for picnics or barbecues.

13. Olio di oliva

Olio di oliva simply translates to “olive oil” in Italian. Olive oil holds a significant place in Italian cuisine and is widely used in various dishes and cooking techniques. Italy is renowned for producing high-quality olive oil, and different regions in the country have their own distinctive varieties and flavors. Olive oil is derived from the pressing of olives, and it comes in different grades, including extra virgin, virgin, and regular olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil, made from the first pressing of olives, is highly regarded for its superior quality, fruity aroma, and low acidity. Olive oil is a fundamental ingredient in Italian cooking, used for sautéing, dressing salads, drizzling over grilled vegetables, and enhancing the flavors of sauces and marinades.

14. Orzo e fagioli

Orzo e fagioli is a classic Italian soup that combines two key ingredients: barley (orzo) and beans (fagioli). This hearty and comforting soup typically starts with a flavorful base of onions, garlic, and aromatic herbs like rosemary or thyme. Barley and beans, along with vegetables such as carrots, celery, and tomatoes, are added to create a substantial and nutritious soup. The barley provides a chewy texture and helps thicken the soup, while the beans contribute creaminess and protein. The soup is often finished with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese for added richness and depth of flavor. Orzo e fagioli is a beloved dish in Italian cuisine, showcasing the simplicity and rustic charm of traditional Italian soups.



Simon is a food lover and passionate home cook with a talent for creating delicious, healthy meals. When he's not in the kitchen, he enjoys exploring new restaurants, cuisines, trying out new ingredients, and sharing his love of food with others. Simon has always been fascinated by the art of cooking and the ways in which food can nourish both the body and the soul.
On this page
Send this to a friend