Italian food is one of the most popular cuisines in the world. It has long been an American favorite and there are countless Italian food restaurants throughout the United States. While Italian food was first brought to this country by immigrants and ma and pop shops, like everything else in this country Italian food franchises are quickly defining this country’s perception of Italian food.
Probably the first and most well known of these franchises is the Olive Garden. The Italian food served here is heavy on spices and thick, creamy sauces. The salad is dressed with Italian dressing and served with breadsticks. Popular dishes include ravioli, lasagna, and minestrone. While this restaurant has done a great job of introducing people to the concept of Italian food, the food served here is a far cry from the real thing. The salad dressing and breadsticks served here would never be found in Italy. Since the menu is the same year round fresh ingredients are not a priority and hence the dishes are heavily seasoned to hide the fact that the underlying ingredients hold little flavor. Sadly, many people’s views of Italian food and the stereotypes surrounding this cuisine are only furthered by this Italian food restaurant.
However, there are other large chain Italian food restaurants. Places like Macaroni Grill, Carino’s, Buca di Beppo, and Carrabba’s give a much better Italian food experience. While the Italian food served at these places certainly doesn’t live up to the high standard of Italian food set by those who originated it, the food is still quite good. The ingredients at these restaurants are of a higher quality and the dishes are closer to an authentic flavor. Carino’s is a great restaurant to go to for a casual meal. Macaroni Grill and Carrabba’s are a little nicer and are great restaurants for an Italian food date.
These restaurants don’t rely on pastas with overly seasoned heavy sauces to convince you that you’re eating Italian food. They use a wider variety of ingredients that are more true to the spirit of Italian food. Buca di Beppo is a great family Italian food restaurant. The décor is that of an Italian home and the meals are served family style. It is recommended that you find some friends or family that enjoy Italian food to share with because the portions are quite large.
While Italian food chains are certainly not the best way to experience Italian food, they have come a long way and more and more restaurants are raising the standard to bring good quality Italian food to the general public that can’t afford a plane ticket to Italy. More chefs are venturing out and trying new things with Italian food and the results are absolutely mouth watering. Italian food will always be popular in the United States. Just realize that when eating out at franchise restaurants you will never be able to replicate the flavor and quality of authentic Italian food made by Italians using recipes that have been passed down through the generations.