Exploring Some Spectacular Staples of Italian Cooking

Italy have given us some of the finest food and wine in the world and has been influencing the way people cook and eat for many centuries. Italian cuisine is known for its simplicity in ingredients, which results in incredible flavour and taste, and is also noted for its diversity based on region. These regions have given us a wide range of staple ingredients and foods that are now beloved around the world and we’re exploring and celebrating some of our favourites:

Olive Oil – This staple of Mediterranean cuisine is produced by pressing whole olives and is widely used in salad dressings and as a cooking oil. In Italy, it is produced on a large scale in Florence and Tuscany, however the largest production happens in Apulia and Calabria. Olive oil is a core component of Italian cuisine, but has also become popular for its alternative uses like as a home skincare remedy and a base for homemade soaps.

Balsamic Vinegar – Balsamic vinegar is an Italian vinegar that has been produced since the Middle Ages in both the Modena and Emilia Romagna regions of the country. Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is an inexpensive imitation of traditional balsamic vinegar and is the version that is commonly used in salad dressings and cooking. Traditional balsamic vinegar however is created from pressed Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes, with the resulting syrup being aged for a minimum of 12 years in wooden casks.

Parmesan Cheese – Also known as Parmigiano-Reggiano, Parmesan cheese is a hard cheese that is very popular in Italian cuisine and named after the areas in which it is produced – Parma and Reggio Emilia. It is also produced in other places such as Bologna and Modena and is made primarily from unpasteurized cow’s milk. Parmesan cheese is incorporated into Italian cooking in a variety of ways, some of the most common being grated on top of pasta and stirred into risottos.

Pesto – This famous sauce comes from Genoa, Italy and is most commonly made from a combination of basil, crushed garlic, salt, European pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and pecorino sardo which has all been blended together with olive oil. Pesto is often enjoyed on top of pasta and is also used in some types of minestrone.

Get a taste for some of the most innovative and delicious Italian cuisine that Niagara Falls has to offer by reserving a table at the Rainbow Room by Massimo Capra today. It’s an unforgettable Fallsview dining experience that’s unlike anywhere else.

Upcoming Spring Culinary Tours with Chef Massimo Capra

Following the upcoming Culinary Tour of California on March 3rd, Chef Massimo Capra and Chef John Casciato will be hosting the final two Niagara Culinary Experiences dinner events as part of the 2016/2017 series.

This spring, Chef Massimo Capra and Chef John Casciato will be celebrating the neighbouring Italian regions of Marche and Emilia Romagna with A Culinary Tour of Marche on April 7, 2017 and A Culinary Tour of Emilia Romagna on May 12, 2017. These two dinner events will be spectacular evenings full of amazing food and wine that will connect you with authentic Italian dining experiences right here in Niagara Falls.

A Culinary Tour of Marche will showcase the cuisine of a coastal region that’s abundant in seafood and offers beloved dishes like Minestra di Lumachelle, a soup made with egg pasta, and Muscioli Arrosto, which are stuffed and roasted mussels. Marche is also a well-established wine-growing region that will celebrated with wine pairings from Garofoli Winery, which has been producing quality wines like Rosso Cònero and Rosso Piceno for five generations.

Bordering Marche to the north is the beautiful Emilia Romagna, which is the final Italian region to be explored and celebrated by Chef Massimo Capra as part of the 2016/2017 Niagara Culinary Experiences series. Emilia Romagna’s capital city is Bologna, which has brought us notable pasta dishes like tortellini and lasagna, and as a region has given us countless classic Italian dishes and ingredients such as polenta, balsamic vinegar, and Parmesan cheese. Emilia Romagna is also known for remarkable wines such as the red and bubbly Lambrusco wine and the white Albana di Romagna.

Experience two of the city’s finest spring culinary events by visiting fallsavenueresort.com/culinary to reserve your Dinner Only or Hotel Package tickets. Both evenings will feature delicious five-course menus, a mix and mingle with Chef Massimo Capra and Chef John Casciato, a standing cocktail reception, and spectacular views of the thundering Niagara Falls from the Rainbow Room’s floor-to-ceiling windows.

20 Delicious Dishes from the 20 Regions of Italy

Italy is divided into 20 beautiful regions that each offer a unique cuisine worthy of exploration and celebration. So here is a list of some of the finest and most popular dishes from each of Italy’s 20 regions:


Located in Southern Italy and known as the “greenest region in Europe”, Abruzzo offers a delicious dish called “gnello casc e ove” which is lamb stuffed with eggs and cheese.

Aosta Valley

Bordered by both France and Switzerland, Aosta Valley is a mountainous region that brings us a dish called Carbonnade consisting of salt-cured beef served with polenta.


Apulia is sometimes identified as the heel of the boot of Italy and has a wonderful traditional pasta dish called “Orecchiette alle cime di rapa” – an ear-like pasta prepared with rapini.


Featuring two coastlines, one on the Tyrrhenian Sea and the other on the Gulf of Taranto, seafood is a major part of Basilicata’s cuisine, which features fish dishes like “Baccala alla lucana”, which is cod with crunchy red peppers.


Calabria is the toe of the boot of Italy and has a cuisine that is Mediterranean-inspired and features a range of meat-based, vegetable, and fish dishes. A popular seafood dish from Calabria is “Pesce spada alla ghiotta”, which is swordfish rolls served in tomato sauce.


The region of Campania used to be known by the Romans as “Campania Felix”, which means “fertile countryside” and is the most densely populated region in Italy. Some famous dishes from Campania are Insalata Caprese, which is a Mozzarella and tomato salad, and Parmigiana, which is pran fried eggplant slices layered in cheese and tomato sauce and oven baked.  


Emilia-Romagna is an important cultural and educational hub – home to the world’s oldest university – and has a unique cuisine that has brought us classic Italian dishes like Cannelloni, Lasagne, and Mortadella, a sweet and aromatic pork sausage that originated in Bologna.

Friuli Venezia Giulia

The most north-eastern region in Italy, Friuli Venezia Giulia’s cuisine features Prosciutto di San Daniele, which is a famous ham that is exported and enjoyed all around the world.


Home to the country’s capital, which is also the largest city in Italy, the Lazio region offers “spaghetti alla carbonara”, which is spaghetti prepared with guanciale, pecorino and eggs.


Seafood comprises a large part of Liguria’s cuisine, however pesto is arguably the region’s most famous culinary contribution. Pesto is a popular green sauce made from basil leaves, sliced garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and parmigiano cheese.


Lombardy brings us a number of delicious Italian dessert dishes including Panettone, which is a sweet tasting Milanese Christmas bread made with candied citrus peels and raisins, and Torrone – a candy made from sugar, egg whites, honey, and toasted almonds.


The hilly and mountainous Marche offers unique dishes like “Olive all’ascolana”, which is fried stoned olives that have been stuffed with Parmesan cheese and pork, chicken, or beef.


Molise is Italy’s youngest region and features a cuisine very similar to that of Abruzzo. “Pasta e fagioli” is a famous dish from Molise, which is a pasta and white bean soup cooked with pork rinds and pig’s feet.


Surrounded by the Alps on three of its sides, Piedmont is Italy’s second largest region and brings us Panna cotta, a dessert consisting of sweetened cream set with gelatin.


Located just south of the French island of Corsica, Sardinia offers a warm and hearty dish called Panada, which is a type of bread soup with added eggs, beef broth and cheese.


Sicily is a cultural centre for music, literature, art, and cuisine and is home to classic dishes like Arancini, which are stuffed and fried rice balls, and Cannoli, which is a shell-shaped pastry filled with sweet ricotta cheese.

Trentino-South Tyrol

Trentino-South Tyrol used to be a part of Austria-Hungary and this influence is still evident in the region’s cuisine, which features a popular dumping dish called Canederli or Knodel.


The region of Tuscany is known for its simplistic cuisine and high-quality wine, with a popular dish being Ribollita – a twice-cooked vegetable soup, and arguably the most popular regional wine being Chianti.


Possessing neither a border with other European countries or a coastline, Umbria offers “Lenticchie di Castelluccio con salsicce”, which is a lentil stew prepared with sausages.


Veneto is home to some of the most recognizable dishes in Italian cuisine such as Risi e bisi and tiramisu, along with world-famous wine such as Prosecco.