When you think of your favorite Italian dishes, you likely imagine the familiar flavors of marinara sauce, garlic bread, pepperoni pizza, and salads doused in Italian dressing. Despite these being some typical American favorites when it comes to Italian food, you may be surprised to learn that none of these are a true representation of authentic Italian cuisine. In fact, many of your favorite Italian meals are actually Italian-American dishes. To further understand how Italian food in America can differ from traditional Italian fare, continue reading as we dive deeper into some of the major differences between Italian-American foods and traditional Italian food.

A Brief History of Italian Food

You may think that Italian-American cuisine must, at the very least, be a decent representation of typical Italian food, right? Not so much, actually. Most Italian-American dishes are actually based on traditional Italian food that was prepared for religious holidays, a majority of them originating from the Naples region of Italy. While many of the dishes we’ve come to enjoy as “classic Italian” food favorites in America are heavy on pasta, meat, and cheese, authentic Italian food originally was made up of mostly beans, greens, vegetable soups, and breads. Being expensive, they actually rarely ate meat or pasta.

Once Italian immigrants began settling in the United States, they were a little more well-off, enabling them to afford those additional ingredients such as pastas and meats. However, many traditional Italian ingredients weren’t readily available in the U.S. or were of lesser quality, so the immigrants began to adapt these recipes over time. This eventually led to the evolution of many of the dishes Americans typically refer to as Italian food as we know it today.

The Defining Differences

Once Italian-American cemented itself as a true cuisine in the United States, the differences between it and true Italian food emerged more clearly. Italian-American cooking tends to use much more garlic, sauce, cheese, and meat, while vegetables became less prominent within the dishes. Pasta also tends to be the star of the show in these recipes as well and is even baked in some dishes, such as baked ziti.

True Italian food, however, is less robust and utilizes more fresh ingredients. Pasta, while a staple of Italian-American dishes, is rarely the star of the show in authentic Italian food. In Italy, pasta is typically served as the first course following the antipasto or the “appetizer” type course that precedes all the others. There are also many more regional or traditional dishes found throughout Italy that never quite made their way to the U.S. However, with more and more chefs traveling to sample international cuisine, authentic Italian cuisine is slowly but surely making its way to the U.S. thanks to the Italian fine dining scene.

Experience True Italian Fine Dining at Ferraro’s Las Vegas

If you’re ready for a true Italian fine dining experience, Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant in Las Vegas has the Italian cuisine you’re looking for. Established in 1985, Ferraro’s Las Vegas is proud to serve fine Italian food inspired by old Southern Italy family recipes, as well as modern interpretations of Italian favorites. Throughout our menu, you’ll see we use only the finest ingredients, including fresh seasonal produce, Safe Harbor Certified seafood, and offer a variety of great wines to pair with any dish. Come taste the difference of Italian fine dining at Ferraro’s Las Vegas. Contact us today to make your reservations, or reserve your table online now!