If you’re dining out and wondering why there are so many people flocking to Carrabba’s Italian Grill, well that’s because Americans love Italian food, and through the years several dishes have emerged and become mainstays in casual diners. Here’s a rundown of what Italian American meals people crave for today.
Meats and Eggs
One of the most popular is definitely the Frittata, which is basically an omelet (open faced), and while eggs is the main ingredient, the dish might include onions, cucuzza (squash), peppers, asparagus, potatoes and peas, or any combination of those, and the Frittata can be eaten on their own or paired with sandwiches. Alternatively, you may want to try some Italian Sausages with Peppers, consisting of onions, peppers and Salsiccia with just a bit of red sauce.
But if you’re looking for a full meal or having a party Italian style you can’t do without the Porketta or roast pork shoulder / butt. This dish originated in the Alban Hills and Tuscany and made their way to the US and has become popular ever since. Of course no discussion of Italian American casual diner meals will be complete without mentioning veal / chicken parmesan, veal cutlets or fried breaded chicken topped with cheese and sauce and accompanied by pasta. Also known as chicken parm, you’d be hard pressed to find a casual diner that doesn’t serve this.
Italian American Seafood
Now if it’s Italian style seafood you want check out Lobster Fra Diavolo, which is made up of pasta plus lobster and other types of seafood and is topped off by a layer of crushed pepper, which is what gives the dish its spicy taste. If you’d rather have fish, there’s Baccala, which is salt cod fish and can be served in different ways including salad, fried and so on. For the Feast of Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve, you should have Alici (or Spaghetti con aglio, olio e acciughe), as this is a very popular pasta dish in Italy and has several variants even here in the US.
Stews and Soups
There’s no shortage of Italian American stews and soups too, with Cioppino, a fish stew, a huge favorite in the West Coast. There’s also the ever popular Pasta e fagioli, pasta with plenty of beans and known for its stew-like consistency.
Tiramisu is a multilayered cake typically served with caffeinated beverage or coffee. This concoction was invented fairly recently, just after World War II, but Americans have adopted it quickly. You also don’t want to miss out on the Cannoli, a fried pastry shell filled with sweet ricotta, or the biscotti d’annodare (cookies). If you have a sweet tooth, don’t forget to try out some Sfogliatelle, a pastry filled with cream. Biscotti by the way, refers to any hard cookie with nuts and fruits, and is available in different forms.
These Italian American dishes have become so popular that restaurants like Maggiano’s have incorporated them or variants in their menu. If you’ve been longing for something Italian but also with a distinctly American flavor, any of the treats mentioned above should satisfy your taste buds.