Authentic Italian fare is incredible. It’s rich, it’s hearty, and it speaks to the world’s shared love of delicious meals. Unfortunately, finding a real Italian restaurant can be a struggle in some parts of the world. There are many “Italian-like” restaurants that serve up cuisine that they claim is authentic, when that couldn’t be further from the truth. But that may not be their fault – what is and is not authentic in terms of Italian food is widely debated, with many misconceptions coloring the subject.

Below we’ll tell you some signs that point toward a restaurant being disingenuous about its authenticity. Of course, that doesn’t make a restaurant bad if they fall short of the mark. But if you want a truly Italian experience with your meal, consider the information below.

How to Spot “Fake Italian” Restaurants

There are some things that non-Italians have been led to believe are indicative of genuine Italian cuisine. This is, in no small part, due to the “bigger is better” approach that many of us take to the food we enjoy. While they may still provide delicious food, if the restaurant boasts qualities like the ones we’ll list below, it’s likely not real, authentic Italian.

Portions are Enormous

In Italy, the portions are generous, but they aren’t ridiculous. Plates piled high with pasta, meatballs the size of your fist, and super-thick breadsticks are not calling cards of genuine Italian fare. This is a trait of “Americanized” Italian food, as America is quite well known for a love of bigger plate sizes.

Cheese and Sauce are Abundant

One of the things that make Italian dishes so great is that Italian chefs know that less is sometimes more, and simplicity really allows for their food to shine. While Italian cheeses and sauces are among the best in the world, a real Italian chef knows not to smother everything in them, but rather to use cheese and sauce to highlight the dish.

Spaghetti, Spaghetti Everywhere

If every pasta dish is made with spaghetti noodles, you’re not dealing with truly authentic cuisine. Different sauces pair better with different noodles, which any experienced Italian chef will know and implement into their menu.

Everything is Covered in Garlic and Butter

Did you know that garlic bread isn’t an Italian thing? It’s an American invention that has become such a staple in “Italian-like” restaurants that people have been led to believe that garlic bread is authentically Italian. In truth, garlic isn’t used as much as you’d expect in Italian cuisine when it’s done right.

Now, these characteristics don’t mean that a restaurant is “bad” or not worth visiting. But if authenticity is the name of the game, keep an eye out for ridiculously sized, ridiculously cheesy portions that have been drowned in sauce.

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