Traditional dishes of the Marche region in Italy: a food and wine guide for the Tipicità Festival
Unique Marche region cuisine
The Marche region offers endless culinary experiences. Traveling from north to south, the cuisine and specialties vary with the richness of the landscape: the Adriatic coast full of fish, the hills dotted with vineyards and olive groves, the spectacle of the Sibillini Mountains and villages that keep ancient recipes alive. In the north the Emilian-influenced cappelletti pasta dominates, the south is the realm of Ascolana style Stuffed Olives; in the center, a vast heritage of flavors will make your journey unforgettable.
Typical first courses of the Marche region: from Cappelletti alla Pesarese to Maccheroncini di Campofilone
First course options in the Marche region boast intense flavors and a generous use of meat. Pesaro looks to Emilia Romagna, a neighboring region, for the tradition of cappelletti pasta, made with egg, the pasta is typically stuffed with pork.
Chicken, veal and plenty of Parmesan are used to fill the Cannelloni alla Rossini, in honor of a genius from Pesaro: the composer Gioachino Rossini. Equally rich in flavor are the infamous Maccheroncini di Campofilone, hailing from a small village in the Fermo area, they have conquered the world. A few tips if preparing them: you need to make very thin egg pasta - as many as 10 eggs for every kilo of flour - from which you get long and super fine tagliatelle, which go wonderfully with sauces.
Try some maccheroncini di Campofilone while out in the countryside, in a trattoria or farmhouses at the end of a refreshing nature walk. If you are looking for an alternative to meat sauces, try them with truffles: make sure you get the best truffles of the region, the prized Acqualagna White Truffles.
A quintessential Marche region dish: Ascolana style Stuffed Olives
To truly enjoy one of the best known specialties, you have to be in the Marche region: Stuffed Olives all'Ascolana. It’s precisely because they have become such a popular dish, that you should be able to notice a taste difference enjoying them in their city of origin: Ascoli Piceno, the southernmost province of the region, which also dedicates festivals and fairs to this queen of the dinner table.
Settle in at a restaurant in the splendid historic center and let them tell you all about this delicacy. You will discover that only one type of olive lends itself to this preparation, the Oliva Ascolana Tenera del Piceno (the soft Ascolana olive of Piceno), which has earned DOP status. It has a tender texture and has a slightly bitter taste, which goes perfectly with the filling of meats, Parmesan cheese and a touch of nutmeg.
In these parts, you will learn that even pickling in brine (salamoia) is an art, you won’t be able to resist the temptation to buy a jar of traditional pickled olives flavored with fennel.
In the area, stuffed olives are ordered as an appetizer, and usually make up part of the famous Fritto Misto all'Ascolana, accompanied by “crema a cubetti” fried crumbed cream cubes and lamb chops; our advice would be to enjoy a glass of excellent Montepulciano, from local vines, alongside it.
It’s no coincidence that the recipe for stuffed olives comes from Ascoli Piceno. Olive groves thrive in the surrounding hills: the production of oil dates back to ancient times and today it has reached very high peaks of refinement. The Monocultivar Ascolana extra virgin olive oils have a full and fruity taste, which you can best appreciate on the delicious bread made from various ancient grain flours.
Sibillini Mountain Pink Apples and Green Anise of Castignano: Precious Local Fruits, Slow Food Presidia
The Sibillini Mountain Pink Apples and the Green Anise of Castignano are rarities that delight even the most picky of palates. The former are small apples with a unique aroma from an ancient cultivation in the Apennine valleys and the slopes of the Sibillini Mountains. Recently re-evaluated and protected by the Slow Food Presidia project. The fruit is crunchy, sweet with a hint of acidity, ideal for home-made cakes.
You will also find the unmistakable taste of Castignano Green Anise in the desserts here, another Slow Food Presidium and pride of the tiny village in the province of Ascoli Piceno. It enriches “Ciambelle al Mosto” biscuits and “Lonzino di Fico” salame shaped fig and nut treat. This traditional ingredient is also the basis of the remarkable Marche liquid excellence “Il mistrà” spirit and the Meletti Anisetta liqueur, drunk neat, on ice or in coffee, as local custom dictates.
Cured meats and cheeses from the Marche region, essential to the dinner table
Fabriano salami, Prosciutto di Carpegna (Carpegna cooked ham), Ciauscolo salami, typical of the centre-south of the region: each locality has its specialities. As a snack or succulent appetizer, cured meats are an essential addition to the Marche dinner table. Ciauscolo salami, which is sometimes called Ciabuscolo, is a unique specialty, which is now a recognized product of IGP (Protected Geographical Indication). It’s a spreadable salami sausage, made from various parts of the pig, enriched with garlic, fennel, white wine and pepper. Among the cheeses, Slow Food continues to protect the production of Pecorino dei Monti Sibillini.
By the coast to taste Adriatic fish specialties
Sit along the beach or in the historic centers of the towns along the Adriatic Sea coast and try a brodetto di pesce (fish broth). Then try to decide whether you prefer the San Benedetto del Tronto sweet and sour one or the more delicate one from Ancona, a city also famous for its stockfish prepared with potatoes, tomatoes and of course olives.
Even a simple dish such as spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams) or fried crumbed anchovies won’t disappoint you. Best accompanied with a Marche region white wine such as a Pecorino or Passerina.
The Marche region preserves unique and inimitable flavors, to be discovered kilometer after kilometer on an unforgettable journey.