There’s a reason that Italian food has become a favorite with diners the world over. Done properly Italian cuisine can range from the simple yet flavorful to the completely indulgent.
However, most people who are looking for an authentic Italian dining experience and would like a great night out will have difficulty in choosing the right dining establishment.
There’s a reason for this. The sheer popularity of Italian cuisine has meant that those wishing to cash in have been quick to establish chains which promise an authentic Italian dining experience. However – almost inevitably they fail to deliver. The reality is that chain restaurants will water down their cuisine in order to appeal to the widest audience of diners – and inevitably in the process they’ll lose what is the soul of Italian cuisine. That soul is built on a foundation of a slavish devotion to fresh, authentic ingredients and a commitment to reflect the flavors of Italy in an authentic way.
So how exactly do you go about finding that authentic taste of Italy?
Here are a few guidelines.
It may seem obvious, but have a look at their website and see if they have any customer reviews about the food. If it’s all ‘the pizza was great’ you’re probably not looking at an authentic Italian experience. Pizza, at least as we know it today is not really an Italian invention. But even that may not be a deal breaker. Unless of course they’re offering pizza with Pineapple. that’s something no authentic Italian restaurant would ever do.
If they’re online, and have a menu to peruse have a look at the language that’s being used. Pasta Funghi is not Italian – Pasta al Funghi might just be the real thing. Of course this means you need to know Italian.
If you find a restaurant you like the look of call them. Ask if the ingredients are freshly sourced everyday. tell them you’re planning a birthday party for 50 your Grandma from Napoli who’s in the country to celebrate. It’s a bit underhand – but you’ll get truth. No authentic Italian restaurant wants to disappoint a Granny.
Once you’ve made your decision and sat down at the table. Wait for the service to bring you freshly baked bread. If they bring you garlic bread oozing with butter they aren’t being true to Italian cuisine. Italian love Bruschetta aglio e olio. A light garlic rub and a brush of extra virgin olive oil.
It’s also worth noting that all food you receive should not have garlic as a center point. It simply overwhelms all the other subtle, earthy flavors of authentic Italian food. If all you can taste is garlic – ask for the chef.
Here’s a nice easy one. If you are offered Pesto as a stand alone side dish to spread on bread you’re not in a venue that understands Italian cuisine. Pesto is an ingredient, not a spread. It’s used in stews and possibly pasta. If you’re offered it as a condiment someone is not understanding the spirit of Italian cooking.
A meal in an authentic Italian restaurant is something that will be treasured. A meal in a restaurant that claims to be Italian is something that may be delicious, but it’s certainly not a taste of Italy.