5 Popular Dishes believed to be Italian (but aren’t!)

Your whole life you thought garlic bread was Italian?? Keep reading, because you’re in for a surprise! There are many more such dishes believed to be Italian but in fact are only a global take on what we call “Italian food”. So apologies in advance to burst your bubble folks (wink wink) but dishes such as Alfredo Pasta and Spaghetti Bolognese are not Italian food. Let’s take a further look at 5 popular dishes believed to be Italian but aren’t!

5 Popular Dishes believed to be Italian (but aren’t!)

1. Garlic bread:

I know this is a big food myth that needed to be busted – Garlic bread is NOT Italian. I’m saying it louder for the people in the back 😉

If you’re in Italy and ask for garlic bread you’ll be given a quizzical expression and a blank stare. This dish simply does not exist in Italy. Garlic bread is an American concept, popular in India and the rest of the world but Italy. But it is not Italian.

5 Dishes that are believed to be Italian (but aren't!)
Garlic bread is not Italian food!

2. Any type of Chicken pasta:

Chicken pasta is not an Italian concept as Italians do not put any chicken in their pasta. So if you’re looking for pasta in Italy don’t expect to find chicken in it. This is again a global way of eating pasta but strangely enough it doesn’t even exist in Italy.

Chicken on pasta is not prevalent in Italy

3. Pepperoni Pizza

Pepperoni pizza is an American pizza popular globally but yet another dish that does not even exist in Italy. If you want to eat pizza with salami ask for pizza con salamino!

Peperone in fact is the Italian word for peppers or capsicums- red, yellow and green (spelling with a single p!). So if you’re in Italy and ask for a pepperoni pizza, be warned because you might just be served a pizza with tons of capsicum! 😉

5 Dishes believed to be Italian (but aren't!)
Pepperoni pizza also does not exist in Italy

4. Peri Peri Sauce Pasta

Peri peri sauce is an African sauce usually made with garlic, lemon, salt, onion oil and some vinegar. While the sauce is delicious, it is yet another food that is believed to be Italian but is not.

I see a lot of restaurants in India offering peri peri sauce pasta but truly it is NOT Italian.

5. Herb and Garlic Dressing

Another dish that is believed to be Italian but isn’t is the garlic and herb dressing that is commonly marketed as Italian to be put on pasta and pizze. These dressings do not come from Italy because they don’t exist there in the first place! This is a very global take on selling with the word “Italian” in it.

If you’re in Italy and looking for a good dressing, ask for aceto balsamico (balsamic vinegar) and get ready to be blown!

Phew! How many of these Italian food myths were you aware of?? Which one caught you by surprise? Comment below to share your thoughts!

Also read:

Don’t forget to PIN:

Italian food is all about ingredients and it’s not fussy and it’s not fancy

Wolfgang Puck 


  • Robert
    February 23, 2022 at 11:10 pm

    PS Another US mistake is to think that “all’Alfredo” (the white, cream[y] sauce) is Italian. It isn’t, but in Ligurian cuisine, there is an excellent white sauce called “Salsa alle noci..” From the Italian name, you’d think that it’s made of nuts, but the nut (usually a walnut or a hazel nut) is grated on top of the sause. It is delicious, as are most Ligurian dishes.

    • Italophilia
      February 24, 2022 at 11:34 am

      Sounds so delicious!! Will definitely have to try next time I’m there.

  • Robert
    February 23, 2022 at 9:36 pm

    Not surprised. Knew they were mostly Italian-American. Ditto the 20-some pizza toppings using American components. You could have included “la pizza,” the flat-bread basis. It originated in a non-Italian part of the world & arrived in southern Italy at least a century, maybe centuries later.

    • Italophilia
      February 24, 2022 at 11:33 am

      Thanks! I don’t have any idea of La Pizza which you’ve mentioned.

  • Kathy Gates
    November 15, 2021 at 9:25 pm

    Love this — when I teach English in Italy, I often base lessons on food, nothing makes my students want to try and articulate their thoughts (in English of course) like their opinions on food. I actually have one lesson called, The Mystery of Spaghetti Bolognese. Love teaching that one in Bologna!

    • Italophilia
      November 16, 2021 at 3:03 pm

      Thanks Kathy. I bet it must be so different teaching about actual culture vs what people think it is. Love the title 😉

  • […] 5 Popular Dishes believed to be Italian (but aren’t!) […]

  • Sara - My Dear Italia
    March 26, 2021 at 5:12 am

    Haha, we are out there fighting the stereotypes in these days, right?! 😉

    I had no idea peri peri sauce pasta was believed to be Italian in India! I would point out only one thing: it is not that pepperoni pizza does not exist in Italy, it’s just that abroad is known with the…wrong name, I would say?! (As you rightly stated pep(p)eroni are peppers in Italy). Here this kind of pizza is called “pizza col salamino” or “pizza alla diavola”.

    Un abbraccio, Sara.

    • Italophilia
      March 26, 2021 at 11:35 am

      Haha esatto. When I saw your post I was grinning ear to ear 😉 Well they have a lot of varieties of pasta sauces here and peri peri is one of them. (Che schifo!)

      Thanks for reminding me to add abut pizza con salamino. I totally forgot. xx

  • Tanja/The Red Phone Box travels
    March 26, 2021 at 2:23 am

    I knew this;) hope you’re well

    • Italophilia
      March 26, 2021 at 11:34 am

      Thanks dear. I’m fine too. Stay safe!

  • Anonymous
    March 25, 2021 at 12:48 pm

    There is no such thing as “Italian” Cuisine. All Italian cuisine is regional and even that is too large an area. Caponata and arancini the symbols of Sicilian cuisine are different in Palermo than Catania. Some Italians claim that spaghetti with meatballs is not an Italian dish, it is true, but it is a reginal dish of the Italian American, Argentinean, Australian etc. cuisine. Italians adapting to their new environments. If a Bolognese goes to Palermo and orders Pasta cu i sardi and instead of cheese is offered toasted breadcrumbs he understands that is a reginal dish. The same Bolognese in New York City will complain and make a big deal of spaghetti with meat balls

    • Italophilia
      March 25, 2021 at 2:22 pm

      Absolutely, yes! Agree on your points. But if you’re outside Italy most people don’t know that Italian food does not exist in the first place and that all of it is regional.

      All the regional food is served as Italian cuisine everywhere outside Italy. It is hard to make it Roman, Sicilian etc. That being said, my post was an overall information on what we sell as Italian cuisine outside Italy.

  • KareninCalabria
    March 24, 2021 at 11:43 pm

    I think that garlic bread probably came from a simple bruschetta with a piece of garlic rubbed on the toasted bread. Then, Americans took that simple dish and ran with it, and just kept running.

    • Italophilia
      March 25, 2021 at 10:41 am

      Yes could be true! And Indians too 😉


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