8 Italian Foods You Won't Find in Italy

Italian food is a favorite around the world! However, those "Italian dishes" can vary a lot. When the first wave of Italian immigrants came to America, they couldn't get good-quality olive oil, the right produce or arborio rice, however, they had plenty of cheese and meat. They built on traditional dishes to create new ones with what they had available. The result was a hearty, delicious cuisine that has never seen the light of day in the land that inspired it. An article on Fodors.com features some Italian foods you won't find in Italy. However, you're sure to find these favorites at your Lake of the Ozarks Italian restaurant!

1. Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs are perhaps the most popular "Italian" dish outside of Italy. However, it is very rare to find spaghetti pasta served with meatballs in Italy. Meatballs are almost always served on their own. The most popular theory holds that the recipe was invented by poor Italian immigrants who wanted to make a satisfying dish using cheaper cuts of meat. However, some food historians believe that prior to Italian immigration to the US, small meatballs were sometimes served in Southern Italian baked pasta dishes.

2. Marina Sauce

Pasta alla marinara, "mariner style" pasta, does exist in Italy. However, it is typically made with shellfish, olives or both. In the US, the term "marinara" refers to a tomato-based red sauce. In Italian-American cooking, this popular sauce is slathered on everything from pasta to meat!

3. Garlic Bread 

Garlic bread is a staple at almost any Italian restaurant in America. However, you won't find this type of bread in Italy. Their bread is almost always baked plain and served without butter.

4. Pepperoni Pizza 

The pizza toppings you'll find in Italy aren't exactly the same as what you would find here in the US. Potato slices, anchovies, sausages, broccoli rabe, corn, prosciutto are all items you're likely to find on pizza in Italy. Pepperoni, however, is not among them. This beloved topping is thought to have been inspired by spicy dry salamis from Southern Italy and Apulia from Calabria. Plus, the word "peperoni" refers to peppers in Italian, not salami. It should also be noted that authentic Italian pizza is far less cheesy than our pizza at the Lake of the Ozarks. But lets face it, Americans love cheese and our pizza just wouldn't be the same without it!

5. Italian Dressing 

While the name might imply an Italian origin, this tangy, bell pepper-and-herb flecked salad dressing is actually American. "Dressing" as Americans know it, doesn't exist in Italy. Their salads are usually topped with oil and vinegar or sometimes just simply oil.

6. Chicken Parmesan

In Italy, parmigiana is created with eggplants, not chicken or other meats. Italian immigrants added deep-fried meat cutlets or meatballs and doubled the mozzarella to create this popular Italian-American dish.

7. Mozzarella Sticks 

This heavenly, melty, crunchy appetizer comes straight from, well America. If you're looking for mozzarella sticks in Italy, you're not going to have much luck!

8. Shrimp Scampi 

Italian words or dialects are easily misused by non Italian-speaking descendants of Italian immigrants, which could be the reason for the popular Italian-American dish "Shrimp Scampi." This dish consists of large shrimp sauteed with roasted garlic, green onions and tomatoes served over angel hair pasta. Most likely, this dish is a descendant of an Italian recipe that involves langoustines sauteed in wine, olive oil, onion and garlic. Langoustines are a type of tiny lobster, called "scampi" in Italian. Italian-American cooks adapted the recipe, but kept the old name.

So if you're craving any of these "Italian" dishes, don't hop on a plane to Italy. Instead, head on over to Li'l Rizzo's right here at the Lake. We can satisfy your craving for these popular dishes and more. With two convenient Lake of the Ozarks restaurant locations, Li'l Rizzo's is the perfect place to dine for lunch or dinner. Come by and see us soon!

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