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Italian Argentinian food surprised us when we got to Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital.
Not knowing what regional dishes to find beyond Argentina beef, discovering Italian-influenced Argentinian cuisine was a delicious delight.
The dominance of Italian culture in Buenos Aires is unmissable. And, talking about food specialties would be incomplete without mentioning the large influence Italian food has on Argentine dishes.
To savor Argentine cuisine with Italian influence, here are some of the Italian-inspired specialties you’ll want to try.
Italian Influence in Argentina
It is estimated that up to 62% of Argentines have some degree of Italian descent, making it the largest ethnic group in the country.
The majority of Italian immigrants in Argentina came to the country during the mass immigration period at the beginning of the 20th century.
Many settled in and around Buenos Aires. And the Italian influence in Argentina comes across in the language and food culture of Argentina.
Italian Food in Argentina
Given the large population with Italian roots, Italian food is very popular in Argentina.
While Argentina’s cuisine is famously known for succulent steaks and bold Malbec wines, there are many loved dishes of Italian origin.
Popular Italian food in Argentina includes, but is not limited to pasta and pizza.
We enjoyed discovering the surprising Argentinian twist on Italian Argentinian food.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: One of the tastiest ways to dive into the best Italian-Argentine food is to take a food tour with a local guide. This Buenos Aires gastronomic immersion tour takes you to the liveliest barrios in the city for Italian-influenced Argentine cuisine. For 3 to 4 hours you’ll learn about the food history in Argentina while sampling delectable Argentinian Italian food.
Five Foods That Reveal Italian Culture in Argentina
There are five classic Italian food specialties that are part of the Argentine cuisine you’ll find in Argentina’s capital.
1. Argentinian Milanesa
You cannot come to Buenos Aires and not try milanesa. This popular food is available throughout and is considered one of the typical dishes of Buenos Aires.
This Italian Argentinian food was introduced by Italian immigrants as cotoletta alla milanese, a preparation originating in Milan, Italy.
Milanesa is typically made with a thin slice of beef covered with bread crumbs, but can also be made with chicken, veal, or cod fish.
Each slice of meat is dipped into beaten eggs then seasoned with spices, dipped in bread crumbs, and fried.
It can be served in many different ways, the most popular being Milanesa a la Napolitana, which is covered with ham, tomato sauce, and melted mozzarella cheese.
The Milanesa is usually served with patatas fritas (french fries) or mashed potatoes.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST RECIPE: If you are curious and want to make Milanesa at home, see our simple Argentine Milanesa Recipe: How To Make The Best Milanesa Argentina Style
Where to Have Argentinian Milanesa in Buenos Aires
If you want to try various preparations of Argentinian milanesa, you want to check out the Club de la Milanesa that local portenos swear by. The unique restaurant chain in Buenos Aires specializes in milanesa in all its different forms and cooking styles.
For a more traditional and authentic experience, try Don Ignacio located at Avenida Rivadavia 3439 in Cabillito. Here, they prepare some of the best milanesa in the city.
We had the Milanesa Fugazetta Especial con Fritas, which comes topped with ham, melted mozzarella cheese, onion, olives, and oregano, with a side of thick-cut fries. So good, it melts in the mouth and is simply delicious!
The decor here deserves a special mention. When you walk in, you find yourself surrounded by oldies record albums from the 50s to the 80s, and the accompanying music.
2. Argentinian Pizza
Buenos Aires is the self-proclaimed pizza capital of South America. Brought over by Italian immigrants, the first documented Argentinian pizza was made by Naples native, Nicolas Vaccarezza in 1882.
But Italians in Argentina bring their own style. The most typical Argentinian pizza is made of a thick dough that’s a bit chewy and comes with a lot of cheese.
It’s served with different toppings from the classic melted mozzarella cheese pizza to Neapolitan style with tomato and garlic.
Other toppings might include red peppers, onions, olives, chorizo, anchovies, eggs, blue cheese, and artichoke hearts.
One of the more popular Argentinian-style pizza is Fugazzeta. This is a thick pizza made with two layers of crust that are stuffed with gooey cheese and topped with onion.
Interestingly, most of the pizzas are accompanied by Faina. This is a flat pancake-like bread made of garbanzo beans.
We love the simple and plain faina, which has the side benefit of upping your protein intake.
Where To Have The Best Argentinian Pizza in Buenos Aires
To experience Italian Argentinian pizza, check out El Cuartito, one of the oldest pizza joints in Buenos Aires.
The first thing that surprised us was the long line out the door. It’s a huge restaurant with plenty of seating, so the line is an indication of its popularity.
However, don’t be intimidated as the line moves quite rapidly.
One of the best things is that they offer pizza by the slice, so you can sample different styles instead of ordering just one kind.
The pizza we devoured was very tasty, fresh, and filling. El Cuartito is an experience you can’t miss while in Buenos Aires.
3. Argentina Pasta
In Buenos Aires, we were surprised to find many specialty stores selling fresh pasta.
The pasta stores offer different types such as classic linguini, gnocchi, cannelloni, and the most sought-after, the ravioles, not spelled ravioli.
The tradition of hand-making pasta came to Argentina with the Italians who set up Pastas Artesanales stores.
The pasta from these stores is fresh and made with high-quality ingredients. You’ll find pasta dishes with a wide range of different fillings like cheese, spinach, chicken, beef, or ham.
With pasta in Argentina being a favorite food, don’t be surprised to find long lines outside the artisanal pasta stores in Buenos Aires.
In general, pasta is sold by the kilo at very affordable prices. The ravioles are sold by the plancha which means, by the board.
Each board has about 48 individual ravioles, more than enough for two people. In addition to pasta, many stores also sell sauces and pesto.
Our favorite spot for Argentina pasta was La Nieves Pasta Artisanales, in Montserrat, the neighborhood where we stayed.
The pollo y espinacha ravioles, or ravioles stuffed with chicken, spinach, and, cheese was our favorite. Delicious and easy to make, you can’t beat the simplicity of Argentina pasta.
Where To Have The Best Pasta in Argentina
One of the most successful and well-known pasta stores in Buenos Aires is La Juvenil which has 20 locations.
They offer many different types of pasta and they also give you cooking recommendations.
If you’d like to eat pasta at an Argentinian restaurant, Prosciutto offers an extensive list of pasta at very affordable prices.
Prosciutto has four locations in Buenos Aires though be aware that their serving portions are quite large.
4. Argentinian Ice Cream – Helados
Helados means ice cream in Spanish, and Argentinians have mastered the art of making it. Many have said that the ice cream in Argentina is better than in Italy, and it’s hard to disagree.
Italian immigrants brought their trusted gelato recipes to Argentina, and by using local products have adapted to a uniquely Argentinian version.
Ice cream in Argentina is thick and creamy as it is made with whole milk. No preservatives or artificial flavors are added making for natural and high-quality ice cream.
We were surprised to find that you can buy ice cream by the kilo. While you’ll find your traditional cups and cones, the 1 or 2-kilo tubs of ice cream are very popular.
In Buenos Aires, you will find artisanal stores as well as popular chains that serve you the very best helados.
Where To Have The Best Helados or Ice Cream in Argentina
We recommend Cadore, one of the oldest Heladeria’s in Buenos Aires and a distinguished landmark by the Cultural Administration of Buenos Aires.
You’ll find tons of flavor choices! We recommend trying the most typical ones from the region such as dulce de leche or flavors using mate.
Apparently, the three stores were once owned by two brothers and a business associate.
When one of the partners passed away, the stores were divided up with one store getting the signature recipes, the other getting the cash, and the final one the flavors.
They all stem from the same root and you will not go wrong with any of them.
READ MORE: Top 7 Most Authentic Desserts in Argentina
5. Argentinian Cocktail With Italian Liqueur – Fernet
Fernet Branca, a bitter Italian liqueur, is part of Argentina’s national identity. While not a food, it is a beloved drink that came over with the Italians during the mass immigration period.
Fernet was created in 1845 in Italy as a health tonic. It was marketed as a cure-all and was even sold in pharmacies during prohibition in the United States.
Dark and syrupy, with a slightly medicinal black licorice taste, Fernet made its way to Argentina in the late 19th century.
While some drink it straight, it is most popular mixed with Coca-Cola over ice, a cocktail known as Fernet con coca.
This cocktail was first popular with college students and then became widespread throughout Argentina.
Where To Drink Fernet in Argentina
Today, Fernet is consumed by grandparents and students alike, and it is known as the country’s “unofficial national drink.”
It is so important to the country that in 2014 it was added to a price-freeze program to protect it from skyrocketing inflation.
Argentina is also home to the only Fernet Branca distillery outside of Italy.
With Argentines consuming more than 75% of all Fernet produced globally, you will have no problem finding this drink in any liquor store or restaurant when you visit Argentina.
We didn’t love the taste of Fernet, finding it slightly bitter, with an aggressive taste. However, as one of the most popular Argentina drinks, it is worth trying.
In Buenos Aires, visit the “Bares notables” to sip on fernet con coca and for a unique experience into Argentinian culture.
When it comes to food, Argentina has a lot more to offer than beef, parrillas and asados.
The influence of Italian Argentines has undeniably shaped the food landscape. As you eat your way through the capital, be sure to go beyond beef and don’t miss Italian Argentinian food.
Have you had any of these Italian Argentina food before? Please let us know which ones in the comments below.
Savor the Adventure!
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Claire is co-founder of Authentic Food Quest and a lover of simple and exquisite cuisine. Since 2015, with her partner, Rosemary, she has been traveling the world as a digital nomad, creating content about local food experiences.
Her advice from visiting 45 countries and more than 240 food cities has been featured in Lonely Planet, Business Insider, Honest Cooking, Food Insider, and Huffington Post. She has also co-authored three books, including one in collaboration with Costa Brava Tourism.
An ex-mechanical engineer, Claire is responsible for SEO, keeping the website running, and the fun food & travel videos on YouTube.
When Claire is not eating, she can be found running or cycling. Find out more about Authentic Food Quest