Authentic Italian Restaurants
There is nothing more that I hate than the impression that the only thing there is to Italian cuisine is pizza and pasta with tomato sauce. I see people everywhere eating spaghetti with heavy sauce at a restaurant that claims to be Italian, but they really are just horrible remakes. Opening a can of marinara sauce does not make you an authentic Italian cook. So, for the love of all the other kinds of pasta that are generally unknown to the majority of the population, let me set the scoop on what authentic Italian cuisine is and how to tell that your favorite Italian restaurant is really Italian.
One thing to understand about Italian cuisine is that there is no general cuisine to represent the entire country of Italy. Before the year 1861, Italy was composed of different regions. Each region holds specific ingredients as favorites and is often popular in their local dishes. But this is different from region to region. Each region also has a distinct way of preparing their food. The Tuscans prefer to cook the traditional way, while other regions are more experimental. Regions like Bologna want bold flavors while others like to keep the dishes light. Different regions have different cooking styles and preferences, but what all Italian cuisines have in common is balance.
Italians are not fond of adding too much garlic powder or other types of seasoning when they cook. Italians do not like to go overboard when it comes to ingredient use. They like to enhance the subtle flavors of their ingredients and not to have one ingredient overpower the other. They use only the freshest ingredients to make sure they get the best flavors. They also believe dishes should be served the same day they are cooked. If you order a traditional Italian pizza, you will notice that the crust is not greasy, or thick and hard. The pizza dough is made fresh daily and is kneaded by hand. They never use frozen pizza dough.
How can you tell an authentic Italian dish from an American remake? Observing the local restaurants in Italy will give you a clue. Italian restaurants have only one recipe for making their dressing; the ingredients are olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper-just that! Remember, it’s about the salad and not the dressing. The lettuce and other salad greens should remain crisp. Other Italian restaurants even allow diners to create their own dressing, serving them the oil and vinegar set. Tasting only garlic powder in your salad is not a good sign, and it would serve you well to just leave the restaurant.
Italians are not into using heavy cream in their sauces. Italians can eat for hours on end, so for them to finish the entire meal, they have mastered the art of cooking light but delicious dishes. One of the telltale signs that the pasta you are eating is not really Italian is that the sauce is so thick and rich, you feel guilty eating it.