10 Recipes to Know if You Want to Become a Next-Level Italian Cook

Smoked Mozzarella Mezzalune with Braised Onion Sauce
Photo: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Micah Morton / Prop Styling by Missie Neville Crawford

So you have the basics down — maybe you've developed a reputation for your cacio e pepe or your white bean crostini. But now it's time to take your Italian-cooking skills to the next level and practice some of the more intricate dishes in the canon. Once you perfect these 10 recipes, you'll serve dinner party gold for the rest of your life.

01 of 10

Ossola-Style Gnocchi with Sage-Butter Sauce

Ossola-Style Gnocchi with Sage Butter Sauce
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Micah Morton / Prop Styling by Missie Neville Crawford

These hearty cold-weather dumplings are from the Ossola Valley in northern Piedmont, only a few miles from the Swiss border. In addition to potatoes, they're made with winter squash, chestnut flour, and nutmeg. The chestnut flour is optional, but it's worth seeking out for the singular nuttiness it adds.

02 of 10

Osso Buco

Chloe Crespi Photography

Chef Ludo Lefevbre uses classic braising technique in his version of this dish: first, browning the veal shank to develop flavor, then sautéing the aromatics, deglazing with wine, and pouring in plenty of deeply flavored veal stock before finishing in the oven. Use your favorite stock here, and feel free to swap in beef stock for veal.

03 of 10

Smoked Mozzarella Mezzelune with Braised Onion Sauce

Smoked Mozzarella Mezzalune with Braised Onion Sauce
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Micah Morton / Prop Styling by Missie Neville Crawford

Mezzelune (which means "half-moons" in Italian) is a crescent-shaped stuffed pasta similar to ravioli. It's relatively simple to shape and requires little equipment to make at home. The accompanying thick, rich, slow-cooked tomato and onion sauce is loosely inspired by a Bolognese classic called il friggione.

04 of 10

Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara
© Madeleine Hill

Chewy rigatoni stands up perfectly to this supremely rich and flavorful classic carbonara from chef Andrew Zimmern.

05 of 10

Tomato, Basil, and Cucumber Panzanella with Grated Tomato Balsamic Vinaigrette

Tomato, Basil, and Cucumber Panzanella
Victor Protasio

This summer blockbuster panzanella from Samin Nosrat, author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, pairs oven-roasted sourdough croutons with juicy ripe tomatoes, raw red onion, and crisp cucumbers.

06 of 10

Perfect Pizza Margherita

Perfect Margherita Pizza
© James Baigrie

Letting the dough rest in the refrigerator overnight results in a chewy crust with a slight tang. It can sit for up to three days, which adds even more texture and flavor complexity. 

07 of 10

Sardinian Stuffed Eggplant

Sardinian Stuffed Eggplant
© Quentin Bacon

Chef Efisio Farris says that his mother used only eggplants from the first pick of the season (le primizie) for this dish because of their supple texture and earthy-sweet flavor without a hint of bitterness. But if you don't have the primizie option, you should seek out firm, heavy eggplants with smooth, evenly colored skin. Check for ripeness by pressing them lightly; if this leaves an imprint, the eggplant is ready to use.

08 of 10

Marinated Fish with Salmoriglio Sauce

Marinated Fish with Salmoriglio Sauce

© Yunhee Kim

This tangy, buttery salmoriglio sauce — a Sicilian classic — is spectacularly delicious with many kinds of fish, not just those specified here; it's always best to simply trust your eyes and nose and buy what's freshest at the fish market.

09 of 10

Dried Porcini Mushroom Risotto with Goat Cheese

Dried-Porcini-Mushroom Risotto with Goat Cheese
© Ashley Colbourne

Using the mushroom-soaking liquid to cook the rice gives this risotto intense flavor. There's just enough goat cheese to balance the earthiness of the porcini with a touch of tartness without overwhelming the dish.

10 of 10

Ligurian Seafood Stew

Ligurian Seafood Stew
© Tina Rupp

After blanching peas, snap peas, and fingerling potatoes, chef Andrew Carmellini adds them to a homemade mussel broth along with sea bass, clams, an herb pesto, and little seafood meatballs made with shrimp, chorizo, and scallops. Here, we've narrowed the ingredient list to the delicious basics — shrimp, sea bass, and clams. Use bottled clam broth as a stand-in for mussel broth and flavor it with spicy chorizo.

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