“Italian Food” That Real Italians Won’t Eat

Who doesn’t love Italian food? I know I do. Some of these Italian foods have much more of an Americanized background though, and to many Italians, aren’t even true Italian dishes. Here are the foods we love and accept as Italian, that Italians don’t even want to eat. 

Italian Dressing

Yes, it’s a fake. It’s not real. Italians don’t like “Italian Dressing.” The dressing as we know it is full of spices, herbs, vinegar, oil, sugar, and more. Italians don’t usually dress their greens and if they do, they use little more than a splash of olive oil. 


Pepperoni Pizza

Pepperoni is not a staple for pizza in Italy, whereas here in America, some people have literally eaten nothing besides pepperoni pizza, ever. You can’t even order pepperoni pizza in Italy, well you can, but it won’t be what you expect. An Italian pepperoni pizza comes with bell peppers. It seems that when Italians first immigrated to America that “pepperoni” got lost in translation and started to mean “meat” and not “veggies.” 

Meat(and more)less Pizza

And on the pepperoni confused for peppers pizza, another notable difference is that Italian’s also don’t really eat meat on their pizza. There may be some very thinly sliced prosciutto or a lean Tuscan sausage. There is also less cheese, sauce, and crust than traditional American pizza, making it all around lighter and healthier, and very much so the opposite of how we enjoy it. 

Fettuccine Alfredo

I’m sure you’re beginning to see a pattern here, but this is not Italian either. Sauces full of cream and cheese, and slathered over pasta or used as dip for bread is not only very heavy but also not even a little bit Italian. 

Mozzarella Sticks

This goes double for these fried, stuffed with cheese, sticks. They are delicious, yes. Italian? For all the reasons these other dishes aren’t, neither are these. 

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Yes, it’s true. Spaghetti and meatballs is not Italian food, according to authentic Italians. To us Americans, food from an Italian restaurant should be heaping amounts of pasta, covered in sauce, and piled high with Parmesan cheese. However, this simply isn’t true Italian food. Meatballs are served alone and as the appetizer in Italy, and pasta is rarely paired with meat as a meal. 

Chicken Parmesan

Like spaghetti and meatballs, this dish is not Italian. It’s ultimate comfort food and it has great flavors, but it isn’t authentic. Sorry, folks, but that’s just the truth. The closest comparison to this dish would be baked eggplant with Parmesan cheese, and be sure they use a lot less cheese than an American would cooking this dish, especially if the American was also from Wisconsin. 

Italian Wedding Soup

Yes, it has it in the name, but not in the final product. Yes, the meal has pasta and sausage, both staples in Italian cooking. But that’s about all it has in common with Italy, beyond the name. You won’t find it on any menus in Italy, and like the other items we enjoy “from there,” the high amount of salt and carbs makes it less than Italian, but screams American. 

Italian Subs

Whether you call them Sub Sandwiches, Hoagies, or Italian Subs, none of them really are, Italian that is. Our version of “their” sandwiches is piled high with cheese, meat, thick bread, and lots of extra condiments making them very American.  

Garlic Bread

Garlic bread is one of those foods that can be eaten at any meal, wouldn’t you agree? Eggs over garlic toast at breakfast, a crusty garlic bread to accompany your salad at lunch, and a soft, warm, and garlic-buttered roll at dinner, who can resist? Turns out Italians can. According to them, it’s not Italian at all. The dish that comes closest to this is bruschetta, which is very thin toast with heaps of fresh tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. 

Marinara Sauce

Hearts are breaking all over with this one, but it’s true. Our precious marinara sauce isn’t even authentic Italian. Traditional Italian red sauce focuses on the tomatoes themselves, with the addition of some herbs and olive oil. This results in a lighter dish with a more delicate flavor. 

To go as authentic as possible, order pasta ‘al Pomodoro’ or spaghetti “alla puttanesca.” Of all of these, and not even Italian dressing is truly Italian? I guess there was no better time to break the bad news than 2020. Sorry, y’all.

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