Coming from an Italian-American family, I’ve had the privilege of eating some pretty kick-ass food. Sunday dinners never fail to start my week off on a high note. Since my entire family is from Italy, I have always been confident that the food we make is the real deal. My dad’s meatballs are probably the best food to ever grace my pallet and don’t even get me started on my mom’s lasagna. So you can imagine my surprise when I learned that some of the foods I have pretty much worshiped my whole life don’t really come from my motherland.

1. Spaghetti and meatballs

Okay so you can definitely find spaghetti all over Italy but I guarantee it will never be served with meatballs because they don’t exist there. Meatballs were brought to America by the Italian immigrants who could only afford cheap ingredients like ground meat and breadcrumbs.

2. Pizza (as we know it)

Although pizza does exist in Italy, it is nothing like the pizza we eat here. In Italy the pizza is delicate with a super thin crust and light refreshing sauce. It would be considered a crime to load a pizza with lots of toppings and meat. So if you love that meat-lovers pie, America is the place for you.

3. Mozzarella sticks

These fried sticks of cheesy goodness are a childhood favorite. Dunk them in some marinara sauce and you’ve got perfection. Mozzarella sticks are actually an evolution of an authentic Italian dish “mozzarella in carrozza.” Translated, this simply means mozzarella fried on top of bread. Equally as good, this dish is a lot less nostalgic than the mozzarella sticks we’ve relied on since our youth.

4. Italian dressing

Don’t let the name fool you; Italian dressing is an unauthentic impostor. The bell pepper and herb infused dressing is a favorite on any salad but its origins are not from Italy. The Italians have yet to discover that some dressings actually make salad worth eating (they still mostly dress their greens with olive oil and vinegar).

I don’t know about you but the foods listed above definitely make me proud to be an Italian-American. If you’re ever in Italy don’t be disappointed if you can’t find these dishes… you were warned.


Photo by Caroline Grew