Italian cuisine has a great variety of different ingredients which are commonly used, ranging from fruits, vegetables, sauces, meats, etc. In the North of Italy, fish (such as cod, or baccalà), potatoes, rice, maize, corn, sausages, pork, and different types of cheeses are the most common ingredients (tomato is virtually absent in most Northern Italian cuisines). Ligurian ingredients are quite different, and include several types of fish and seafood dishes; basil (found in pesto), nuts and olive oil are very common. In Emilia-Romagna, common ingredients include ham (prosciutto), sausage (cotechino), different kinds of salami, truffles, grana, Parmigiana-Reggiano, and tomatoes (Bolognese sauce or ragù).
Traditional Central Italian cuisine uses ingredients such as tomatoes, all kinds of meat, fish, and pecorino cheese. Finally, in Southern Italy, tomatoes – fresh or cooked into tomato sauce – peppers, olives and olive oil, garlic, artichokes, oranges, ricotta cheese, eggplants, zucchini, certain types of fish (anchovies, sardines and tuna), and capers are important components to the local cuisine. Italian cuisine is also well known (and well regarded) for its use of a diverse variety of pasta. Pasta include noodles in various lengths, widths and shapes, and varieties that are filled with other ingredients like ravioli and tortellini. The word pasta is also used to refer to dishes in which pasta products are a primary ingredient. It is usually served with sauce. There are hundreds of different shapes of pasta with at least locally recognized names.Examples include spaghetti (thin rods), macaroni (tubes or cylinders), fusilli (swirls), and lasagne (sheets). Two other noodles, gnocchi and spätzle, are sometimes considered pasta. Find pizza in the woodlands here at The Woodlands Pizza Guide