Risotto, at its most basic, is rice cooked in broth. Rice is the star here because it produces starch — the constant stirring during the cooking process rubs the starch off the surface of the rice, where it dissolves into and thickens the cooking liquid. Choosing a rice that doesn’t have enough starch means that the hallmark creamy texture of a good risotto will never be achieved.
Called the “king” or “caviar” of risotto rice, chefs like to use this one for its great flavor and because each grain maintains its shape. It also produces the creamiest risotto and is more forgiving to cook with.
Arborio is not as starchy as Carnaroli, but it is the most widely available. This medium-grain rice can be easy to overcook or turn mushy, but with careful attention, can still make a great risotto.
This shorter-grain rice is grown in the Veneto region of Italy and cannot be grown with chemicals. It has a high starch content, cooks up more quickly than Carnaroli, and yields very creamy risotto.