Italian food Near Me

Italian food Near Me If you ask me, Italian food is the best food in the world. Italian American food is right up, too. But, what’s the difference? We all have an idea of what to expect on an Italian menu in America, but you’d be surprised to learn that you won’t find your favorite chicken parmigiana (which I literally had for dinner last night) anywhere on a menu in Italy. Wait, am I trying to say that your beloved Nonna’s Sunday gravy or the rainbow cookies from the pastry shop on the corner aren’t actually Italian food? Yes, and No.

Italian food Near Me
Italian food Near Me

Italian food Near Me

Italian food Near Me Before you start trolling me in the comments below about insulting your grandmother’s cooking, let me explain. Our Italian grandparents and great-grandparents were most likely poor immigrants trying to make a life in America. While they brought their culture and recipes with them, they also used a new style of cooking: cucina povera. Using ingredients that were leftover, cheap or available, the first Italian Americans invented a new cuisine. While I would never argue that the Sunday gravy your grandmother made isn’t amazing, you might not find the same ragu, or sugo in Italy.

Italian food Near Me
Italian food Near Me

Italian food Near Me

Here are some of my favorite Italians foods that you can only find in America:

Who doesn’t love a good chicken parm sandwich? But, don’t expect to order anything of the parmigiana variety in Italy except for eggplant. Eggplant parm originated in Sicily and Italian Americans modified it to include heartier ingredients like chicken, veal, and meatballs.

Garlic bread as we know it in America is soooo good. But, it’s not a thing in Italy. Try ordering bruschetta (that’s with a hard ‘C’ sound).

Your salads in Italy will come after the meal and are served with olive oil and vinegar. Rainbow cookies (or the layered cookies you’ll find at Italian pastry shops) are so good. You won’t find them alongside cannoli or biscotti in Italy, though. They were invented in the early 1900’s in America to pay tribute to their homeland. This still remains one of my favorite foods from childhood, but the sauce that we all adore is actually  American. In Italy, ‘Alfredo; is just a first name, but you can find a better and similar version of the dish there called fettuccine al burro. The red sauce we all make on a regular basis can be considered American ‘marinara sauce’, consisting of tomatoes, onions, garlic, and herbs. In Italy, though, marinara usually means a shellfish sauce. Try ordering pasta al pomodoro or penne all’arrabbiata for a similar taste of American marinara in Italy.

If you swap the shrimp with langoustines (a small crustacean, the Italian name of which is actually scampi) then you have the original dish. Still a staple of my diet, though! This salad was invented in Mexico by someone named Caesar. I love this salad and if I’m feeling the effects of a long night of drinking, I order it with chicken fingers on top! Alas, it’s not Italian. Or even American!

Italy had its Renaissance a few centuries ago, but in the American dining landscape, Italian food is in a constant state of reinvention and refinement. Trattorias, pastarias, osterias, pizzerias, and nonna-driven holes in the wall have woven themselves into the American culinary fabric, offering up everything from fine-dining experiences to the kinds of gut-busting feasts that leave everybody at the table comatose and feeling like family.

For our little tour of Italy, we scoured the country to find a bit of everything. And while our focus veered from the little, old-school red-sauce joints, we’ve assembled a glorious cross-section of regional styles, innovative fusions of style, and wood-fired glory. Grab a bib. Pour a glass of wine. And get ready for a nap. These are the best Italian restaurants in America right now.

With its stone exterior, arches, 17-foot-tall ceilings, ornate staircases, and lush marble, Bottega’s digs look like an ancient Roman structure inexplicably thrust into Birmingham. But once you’ve climbed the grand staircase to the mezzanine, you’ll find yourself at the confluence of Italy and the South, which makes more sense than it should. Like any Southern dining spot worth its considerable salt, this is a place where no course is accompanied by pomp and circumstance, but chef Frank Sitts has more than a few tricks up his sleeve as he incorporates techniques and ingredients separated by continents. Here, lobster joins spaghetti in a spicy unison of flavors. Grilled quail converges with pancetta and sweet potatoes. The menu changes often. But what you can always expect is an experience unlike anything else.

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