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Grana Padano

Italian cuisine chefs abroad: The no-no list



Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, there is a lot of confusion concerning dishes of Italian Cuisine in the world. Therefore, chefs and restaurateurs working outside Italy who really want to offer authentic Italian Cuisine must offer dishes as they are made in good restaurants in Italy. Too often outside Italy impostors of quality Italian restaurateurs take advantage of their clients' ignorance and serve dishes that have nothing to do with the diverse and vast repertoire of classic Italian cuisine. Here are some pieces of advice from Mario Caramella, executive chef in Indonesia and GVCI's President. They are based on his long-time experience as an Italian chef abroad and on that of many other itchefs-gvci members.


  1. Do not put Caesar Salad on your menu. It is a Tex-mex hybrid not an Italian delicacy, as often Americans believe.
  2. Do not precook either pasta or rice. If for service reason you're in a hurry, use fresh pasta that cooks in 4 minutes. If you are still so obstinate that you have to precook pasta, then use shapes that are not seriously affected by parboiling: orecchiette, gnocchetti sardi or garganelli. In no case rinse this precooked pasta with tap water but rather pour some olive oil on it and let it rest at room temperature. Never, never precook spaghetti: let your clients wait for them.
  3. Be moderate in portioning pasta: a normal Italian portion is between 50 and 70 grams. Do not put on the menu “small, medium or large” for pasta portions. Pasta is not a style of underwear.
  4. Do not serve garlic bread. Instead, you can make a civilised bruschetta but without butter and minced garlic. Use extra virgin olive oil and rub some fresh garlic on the toasted surface. Avoid aromatised salts.
  5. Write the menu in correct Italian. Avoid ridiculous names such as Sophia Loren's Fillet or Tagliatelle alla Pavarotti.
  6. Use only quality extra virgin olive oil and good vinegar. Avoid false aceto balsamico and chemically treated olive oils, in particular so-called “truffled oil” (“olio tartufato”). Avoid as much as you can using the microwave and the deep fryer. Never cook a Costoletta alla Milanese in either one.
  7. Use cream only in pastry making.
  8. Do not put on the menu “Spaghetti alla Bolognese” but “Tagliatelle al Ragù” and make the ragù as specified by the authentic recipe.
  9. Do not serve warmed bread nor olive oil and aceto balsamico, whether genuine or false, with it and never serve roasted garlic with it either.
  10. Do not put on the menu “Tagliatelle all'Alfredo”. There is enormous confusion concerning this dish, which is not a bad at all if correctly made, with pasta, butter and Parmigiano.
  11. Do not put garlic in every dish and avoid serving Parmigiano indiscriminately, with risotto with crustaceous, shellfish and other seafood pasta.
  12. Do not copy French cuisine thinking that you will thus improve Italian cuisine.
  13. Avoid red and white chequered tablecloths and paper serviettes artistically folded or put in the glasses.
  14. Avoid garlic or the empty Chianti flask hung on the restaurant's wall.
  15. Do not use pasta that cooks in the oven to make lasagne.
  16. Do not serve pizza with pineapple.
  17. Avoid serving cappuccino and latte macchiato with dessert as much as you can.


  • Fresh tomatoes and herbs
  • Bread with its crust
  • Seasonal produce and
  • Fresh tomato sauces


  • Salads with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • Home-made desserts and gelato
  • A costoletta alla milanese that is thick, with the bone and pink inside
  • Sicilian pastry
  • DOP cheeses and smallgoods (salami, prosciutti etc)
  • Bollito misto
  • Homemade pasta and ravioli
  • Fresh fish and
  • Espresso coffee of good quality,


  • An Italian chef and restaurant manager and
  • A wine list with only Italian wines, including Italian spirits and liqueurs.
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