This is where you’ll find the best food in Italy

The Michelin Guide for Italy 2016 has been released, awarding 334 Italian eateries a coveted star rating. And the best city to eat in Italy might surprise you...

This is where you'll find the best food in Italy
Photo: Katherine Lim/Flickr

1. Naples

Photo: Alexandra Svatikova/Flickr

It's only the fourth largest urban economy in Italy, after Milan Rome and Turin. But as the birthplace of pizza, it perhaps shouldn't be too much of a surprise that to learn that Naples was the region awarded most Michelin stars in the 2016 Italy Michelin Guide. Don Geppi in Sant'Agnello was a newcomer to the list, getting its first star, while in Naples' city centre itself, Il Comandante and Palazzo Petrucci were each recognized as quality restaurants with a star.

2. Rome

Photo: Dennis Jarvis/Flickr

The eternal city just missed out on the top spot but can be proud of its 19 starred restaurants, including one three-star establishment, La Pergola, and two with two stars, Oliver Glowig and Il Pagliaccio.

3. Bolzano

Photo: Aleksandr Zykov/Flickr

There’s never been a better time to visit Bolzano. On Monday we reported that it had been named the Italian city with the best quality of life, and their food is also held in high regard. Nineteen restaurants in the region were awarded Michelin stars, including four two-star restaurants.

4. Milan

Photo: Jose Mª Izquierdo Galiot/Flickr

Milan had a tasty 15 restaurants included in the rankings, rising up the list thanks to three new entries into the guide; Armani, Seta and Tokuyoshi.

5. Cuneo, Piedmont

Photo: Sara/Flickr

This region in the mountainous north west of the country has one three-star restaurant, Piazza Duomo in the town of Alba, one two-star establishment, and ten further one-star restaurants, one of which was a new entry in the guide this year.

6. Salerno, Campania

Photo: Sabrina Campagna/Flickr

Salerno is home to twelve restaurants which made the list, and two for the first time ever: Re Mauri and Osteria Arbustico

7. Brescia

Photo: Marco Assini/AFP

Close to Milan, Brescia is another foodie haven in the north. 11 of its eateries are Michelin-starred, with two of them boasting two stars – Miramonti l'Altro and Villa Feltrinelli.

8. Venice

Photo: Heiner Adams/Flickr

As if you needed another reason to add beautiful Venice to your bucket list, it turns out it serves good food. The region has one two-star restaurant, Antica Osteria Cera, and nine one-star.

9. Turin

Photo: Maëlick/Flickr

Nine restaurants in the region of Turin were acknowledged in the prestigious guide, though all of these were outside the city of Turin itself, including two in skiing village Madonna di Campiglio; Dolomieu and Il Gallo Cedrone.


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Italian pastries: Is it a cornetto, croissant or brioche?

The classic Italian breakfast is loved across the country - but what should you call the pastry you order with your cappuccino? Here's why the name seems to change depending on where you are, and what the difference actually is.

Italian pastries: Is it a cornetto, croissant or brioche?

There are plenty of differences between Italy’s northern and southern regions, and one you might have noticed is that the daily breakfast pastry served (and quickly devoured) along with a frothy cappuccino at the local bar-pasticceria might have a different name depending on where you go.

READ ALSO: Where, when and how to drink coffee like an Italian

Most people will probably know it as a cornetto, which is something many visitors to Italy mistake for a croissant.

Google translates cornetto as croissant most of the time, which doesn’t help matters. And Italians themselves might even call it a croissant (pronounced ‘crassant’) if ordering at a fancier type of pasticceria, when they’re feeling a bit fancy themselves. 

Meanwhile, some bars and bakeries advertise a brioche. But can it be a brioche if it’s shaped like a cornetto? Is there always a difference, or just sometimes? And does it really matter what you call it?

Let’s have a look at what’s going on.

North vs south

Generally speaking, a cornetto is called a cornetto in the centre and south of Italy, while the exact same pastry is usually referred to as a brioche in northern regions.

In fact, some northern Italians may tell you they’ve never heard anyone order a cornetto.

According to popular Italian food blog Dissapore“In Italy it is called brioche in the north and cornetto in the centre-south: a cultural heritage that has little to do with the actual characteristics of these sweets.”

“Italy seems to be the undisputed homeland of the binomial ‘cappuccino and cornetto/brioche,’” it notes.

Alessandro Pirollo, a writer at Italy’s esteemed food magazine La Cucina Italiana, goes a step further by saying: “calling [a cornetto] a brioche is just an improper use of the term, widespread in northern Italy.”

“True brioche is different from a cornetto, but be warned: neither one is a croissant,” he writes.

Shape, texture and ingredients

Each pastry has a long and disputed history, and their ingredients differ.

Croissants are known for their buttery flavour, which comes through because of the absence of egg in the mixture, explains Pirollo. This also accounts for its “flakier, lighter” texture.

“The brioche and cornetto have more in common from this point of view,” says Dissapore.

“The same ingredients but different methods, as the brioche is leavened and the cornetto is layered with butter. They both contain flour, a lot of butter, a lot of sugar, yeast, eggs and milk.”

For the brioche, notes Dissapore, “lard may also be used instead of butter”.

To muddy the waters further, in many parts of the south cornetti are also made using lard (strutto) instead of butter. (In fact, quite a few southern Italian pastries are made using lard, including more traditional versions of the pasticciotto and sfogliatella.)

The texture and shape of the pastry is probably the easiest way to tell them apart.

The brioche is soft and airy with a rounded shape, often topped with a ball of dough. In Sicily this is called a brioche col tuppo and it’s often served either filled with or soaked in granita or gelato.

A cornetto and a croissant may be fairly similar in appearance, at least to the untrained eye, but the cornetto is usually straighter while a croissant is curled.

Cornetti are also crunchier, less sweet, and can be eaten plain, though you’ll often find them served already filled with chocolate, cream, or jam.

READ ALSO: French dilemmas: Is it a pain au chocolat or a chocolatine?

Usually, at least in France, croissants are not filled with cream or chocolate.

Cornetti for sale in Naples. Photo by Nicole Arango Lang on Unsplash

There are countless articles and blog posts written in Italian on the cornetto vs brioche vs croissant debate, which suggests that there’s widespread confusion about the differences even among Italians themselves.

The north-south debate over what to call the standard Italian breakfast pastry is also frequently the subject of jokes on Italian social media.

Whatever you call it, another important north-south difference is that in the south, hot cornetti, invariably made using lard, are not only eaten for breakfast but also served up to hungry customers as a late-night snack – meaning it’s not unusual to see long queues outside of bakeries at 1am on summer nights everywhere from Bari to Rome.

Meanwhile in the north of Italy, breakfast is the only time you’ll see anyone eating a cornetto. Or should that be brioche?