The 8 Most Delicious Italian Sauces You Need To Try

Woman enjoying her pasta

Italians’ passion is evident in their food. As we all know, Italy is one of the best food destinations in the world. From pizza and wine to pasta, Italy’s food reflects its diverse culture that is highly influenced by the Roman Empire. This includes their love for sauces. 

Don’t believe us? Here’s a list of the 8 most delicious Italian sauces you need to try


The red sauce that you commonly taste in spaghetti and pizza is called marinara. It originated from Naples, Italy. This thick and watery sauce is made up of tomatoes, Italian herbs, garlic, and olive oil. Adding more ingredients will transform marinara sauce into puttanesca or arrabbiata. 

Marinara sauce is one of the most common base sauces for a lot of Italian dishes. Its name came from “Marinai” which means ‘sailors’ in Italian. According to food historians, it was named after the sailors because this sauce doesn’t get spoiled easily. Hence, it’s been considered as a primary food item sailors bring on their voyages. 

Pesto Genovese

This sauce originated in the city of Genoa, thus the name Genovese or “from Genoa.” Popularly known as pesto sauce, it is made from olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, and basil. Pesto sauce is usually paired with cheeses like Pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano for added flavors. 

The word “pesto” means to crush or to pound in English. Historically, pesto was used way back during the height of the Roman Empire. It was formerly called moretum.


This traditional sauce came from Tuscany, Italy. It’s made from olive oil, tomatoes, salt, garlic, and basil. 

The tomatoes are sliced and diced into tiny pieces and stored in a pot together with basil and garlic. It’s then cooked and passes through a food mill to remove excess water from the tomatoes. Once it’s done, salt and olive oil are added to the mixture and cooked briefly. This is one of the best tasting pasta sauces. 

Ragù Alla Pugliese

Apulia, a region in Southern Italy facing the Adriatic Sea is known for its meaty sauces and stews. They use different varieties of meat from lamb, chicken, veal, pork, rabbit, and game meat. 

This sauce is slowly simmered until perfection. It is usually served with orecchiette, an ear-shaped pasta commonly found in Apulia.


Garum is a staple fermented fish sauce that’s been used since the time of the Roman Empire. It’s a combination of salt and fermented fish used for different Italian dishes. 

It’s not consumed alone because of its funky aroma plus it has a very fishy and salty taste. Usually, it goes with olive oil, vinegar, pepper, or wine. The fish used for fermentation are usually tuna, anchovies, mackerel, and whitebait. 

What makes this Italian sauce very different is that the fish guts are also put in the mixture along with the salt and some herbs. It is fermented under the sun for a couple of months until it starts to produce a brownish thick liquid which makes up the sauce. 


This creamy-tasting pasta sauce is highly popular worldwide. Other parts of the world have included cream in the ingredients, but the authentic Italian version does not. 

Instead, Italians use eggs, pecorino cheese, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and guanciale. Its creaminess is the result of the consistent beating and mixing of all the ingredients on a heated pan. The result is a creamy and cheesy sauce that smothers the pasta. 

Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino

If translated to English, this stands for “garlic, oil, and hot pepper.” Italians also love to heat their taste buds, that is why Aglio, olio e peperoncino is an essential pasta sauce there.

This hot yet very flavorful sauce originated from Naples, Italy. It is made from finely chopped garlic sautéed into perfection with olive oil along with chili flakes. It’s usually accompanied by meat toppings such as chicken, shrimp, or fried pancetta along with parsley and cheese. 

Ragù Alla Bolognese

This pasta sauce was invented back in the 18th century in Bologna by Alberto Alvisi. He served as the chef for Pope Pius VII in Rome. 

This sauce is made from either beef, pork, or both along with tomato puree, dry white wine, nutmeg, pepper & salt. It is also combined with cream or milk along with pancetta. 

This sauce is best served using the tagliatelle pasta and the lasagna. It is also garnished best with a Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top. 

Final Thoughts

Italian food won’t be complete without its sauces. In fact, there are a lot of sauces that are worthy to mention in this post, but it will take forever for us to list each one! So, we’ve packed all the most popular in this post for you to try!

Are you planning to make one at home? Or are you looking for an Italian restaurant to satisfy your craving? Caffe Positano is here to serve you the best meals with these famous Italian sauces

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