10 Italian Dishes That Don't Exist In Italy

Friday, April 23, 2021

I love Italian food! I have been eating Italian food ever since I was young. I enjoyed eating pizza, pasta, and gelato! Plus cheese! I just love them all! Well, I thought that the food that I've been eating in an Italian restaurant were authentic Italian food. It was only when I lived here in Florence that I realized that most of the Italian food that I've been eating back home, doesn't exist in Italy! Here are some of the "Italian" dishes that don't exist in Italy.

Spaghetti with Meatballs

It's not really a thing here. The origin of this dish is the United States. They do eat meatballs, they just don't eat it together with spaghetti. 

Pepperoni Pizza

The first time I went to a restaurant, I immediately looked over the menu and searched for pepperoni pizza since it was my favorite. It wasn't listed there. Pepperoni literally means bell peppers, and if you say you want pepperoni pizza, they will give you pizza with bell peppers on top. Instead, order for Salami Pizza, or Diavola Pizza(it's spicy "pepperoni" pizza) instead. 

Chicken Parmesan

This is not a thing here. Nothing comes close to this dish. It's an American thing. They do have "Parmegiana" which is mainly made up of eggplant, tomato sauce, and cheese.

Pesto Pasta with Chicken or Tuna

Only pesto pasta. No chicken or tuna. I remembered that I cooked pesto pasta with tuna in my old apartment, and my Italian roommate was wondering what I was cooking. She said it was interesting and she never heard that kind of dish before. XD 

Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce is heavy, contains a lot of ingredients. The tomato sauce used for spaghetti here is just tomatoes(canned/fresh), olive oil, garlic, basil, salt, and pepper. Italians don't use oregano, add parsley, or put onions. I was surprised too when I found out about how little ingredients they use! 

Garlic Bread

When I first arrived here, I kept on looking for garlic bread! It's actually originated in the United States! Though the closest thing to garlic bread is "Bruschetta alla Romana" which is made up with thick toasted bread rubbed with garlic. But the garlic bread that we love, it's not a thing here.

Ceasar Salad

Most of us thought that the Ceasar salad was named after Julius Ceasar. The truth is that the salad was invented in Mexico, and was named after the one who invented it, Ceasar Cardini.

Italian Dressing

You may have seen this pre-mixed orange colored dressing made up with dried oregano, basil, onion powder, red pepper, etc., on the shelves at your grocery store. I actually tried looking for an Italian dressing when I arrived here. Then I realized that the Italian dressing that I knew doesn't exist here. Italians only put olive oil, balsamic/red/white vinegar, a bit of salt, and sometimes a squeeze of lemon to their salad. It's very simple.

Shrimp Scampi

Scampi is an edible lobster that is called Norway Lobster or Dublin Bay Prawn. Shrimp in italian is "gamberetto." The scampi dish here in Italy is mostly made up of scampi, olive oil, white wine, lemon, garlic, and salt. No pasta. Shrimp scampi is an Italian American dish. Italians don't really use butter for cooking.

Chicken Alfredo

It's not a thing here. Though some say that it was invented by an Italian man for his pregnant wife. But then he sold the recipe to an American, so it became popular in America. But not here in Italy.



It's actually called Ragรน here, not Bolognese.


Latte means milk. So if ever you're in Italy and you will order latte, they will literally give you milk. Instead, you say "cafe latte" and they will give you the "latte" that you want.

What I noticed about how Italians cook their food is that they use only a few ingredients. They like to keep it simple and let the natural flavor do its magic. What  makes their dish so amazing is the quality of their food. :) 


  1. Great reminder of the difference between Italian dishes in Italy and those in other countries. Love that pizza you're eating and can't wait to return to my lovely Italy.

  2. It's so interesting how things we think are from a certain country are just a play on a cuisine and not at all from there. Interesting seeing some of the ones on this list

  3. This is such an interesting post! It's funny how many 'Italian' dishes aren't actually Italian at all! I knew about spaghetti and meanballs but the rest have just blown my mind! Thanks for such an interesting read!

  4. This is so interesting! I love how the Italians like to keep their ingredients simple and fresh. Less is definitely more in Italy.

  5. I was so confused trying to find the pepperoni on menus! But to be fair the food in Italy is amazing anyways so I didn't miss some of the more American-Italian dishes while I was there.

  6. Funny I just made a similar post in my blog a couple days ago. I agree with all and would add Chicken Marsala to your list!

  7. This is such an excellent post and I was absolutely tickled by it! I know the Italians have great pride when it comes to food, and I can only imagine how appalled they must be whenever they come across all these things! I once heard that REAL Italian Bolognese (or Ragu) does not use any tomatoes - and I have always been so gobsmacked by that!

  8. I had no idea about any of this! Wow!! LOL I'll have to order better when I go to the "Italian" restaurants in the US

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