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Five Italian Dishes That Are Not Pasta Or Pizza

This cuisine is more than spaghetti with meatballs and fettuccine alfredo

Kat Rembacki

Kat Rembacki

Storyteller at Core Detroit
Dance party crasher; wordsmith; downtowner;Disney geek; whipped cream junkie; die-hard Tigers fan. Join me on on my epic quest for the perfect turkey reuben.
Kat Rembacki

We love Italian food. But we can’t be eating carbo-laden dishes like spaghetti with meatballs or fettuccine alfredo every night of the week. Italian cuisine is so much more than that. Authentic recipes focus on simple dishes, with good quality ingredients. They use fruits, vegetables, and a variety of sauces and meats.

So tonight, we’re heading out for an Italian feast. But no pasta, no pizza. Read on for five Italian dishes you can find around Detroit that don’t involve noodles or a bread dough pie.

pecorino

Pecorino Cheese Plate at Ottava Via

When we think of a cheese plate, we usually picture a snacky little sampling of a few different cheeses, made for nibbling with fruit or some crackers. This is not the case with Ottava Via’s pecorino cheese plate. It’s an indulgent, bubbling hot, right from the oven bowl

In southern Italy, pecorino is often served at the end of the meal, so feel free to go ahead and order this one as dessert, accompanied by fresh pears, truffles and honey. It’s served with big hunks of toasted, crusty bread onto which you can spoon the gooey deliciousness.

Stracotto di Agnello at La Rondinella

This comfortable Eastern Market eatery does a lot of things right when it comes to authentic Italian food, but our favorite dish on the menu (maybe aside from their surprisingly good fennel) is the Stracotto di Agnello. If you’re not fluent in Italian, allow us to translate. It’s an overnight wine-braised, pasture-raised Michigan lamb shoulder, served over a bed of creamy polenta. The whole dish just melts in your mouth. The lamb is deliciously meaty, and the polenta is properly cooked. It’s served with a small green salad on the plate, so that you can feel like you had something healthy rather than just a giant plate of meat.

Arancini at Angelina Italian Bistro

Arancini are fried balls made from a high-starch, short-grain rice like arborio. They are the best possible use of leftover risotto we can imagine. The cooked rice is formed into little balls, rolled in breadcrumbs and deep fried, producing a golden outer crust and soft middle. Angelina’s arancini are stuffed with a tasty mix of spinach and mushrooms, mozzarella and red pepper. They’re served with a roasted red pepper aioli for dipping.

Gnocchi ala Bava at La Dolce Vita

Gnocchi is a tough dish to get right. Too often, the dumplings are dense and chewy, or woefully overcooked. But La Dolce Vita gets it right. Their house-made, soft potato dumplings have a light, pillowy texture – cooked just for a couple minutes. They’re then bathed in a rich, six cheese cream sauce. If you’re a fan of fettuccine alfredo, this dish offers a yummy alternative to that classic pasta entree.

Warm Burrata Cheese at Wright & Co.

Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese. It has a stiff, outer shell of mozzarella, but once you slice into the cheese, it reveals a smooth, luscious center of stracciatella and cream. It’s like the cheese version of a perfect runny egg. At Wright & Co., burrata is served with a pepper stew, olive tapenade and crisp capers. Sourdough bread also joins the party; its chewy consistency and slightly sour flavor make it an ideal dunking buddy for the creamy burrata.

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