The Italian-American Pasta Dish Restaurant Chefs Rarely Order

There's a good chance your favorite Italian dish isn't authentically Italian at all. Instead, it could be Italian-American — a cuisine that was birthed from Italian immigration yet not a window into the country's actual food. As explained by First We Feast, immigrants from Southern Italy were impressed by America's abundance of meat, which led to ingredient adaptations in many of their original recipes. 

In the 1970s, Italian-Americans attempted to combine the best of each cuisine type as the food became mainstream. "Food for [third-generation] Italian-Americans was absolutely central in rediscovering roots that were being severed. At the same time, they were interviewing grandmothers they never cared about before," Simone Cinotto, author of "Making Italian America" told the outlet.

This resulted in foods such as bologna, meatballs, mozzarella sticks, and garlic bread, according to Locatelli. Instead of chicken parmesan, Italians serve eggplant parm, and instead of Americanized pepperoni, Italians use pork-based salami picante or soppressata. It's understandable if Italian-American food tickles your taste buds more than the traditional variations, but according to chefs, there's one item that they deem a total waste of money.

To chefs, the dish isn't worth the money

Food-based opinions differ from person to person, but if you ask an Italian chef, they'll likely tell you to stay away from fettuccine alfredo. In an interview with Eat This, Not That, Chef David Kirschner of DineDK revealed that fettuccine-themed dishes simply aren't worth the price you pay. "The price that is usually charged for this is obscene knowing that it is simply reduced cream with grated cheese and butter," he said. But what about when the dish is decorated with meat? Does that help boost its value? According to Kirschner, the answer is no. "Most places throw some grilled chicken on it that is usually sliced so thin it has no moisture left in it when cooked. Nine out of 10 times it's a disappointing dish that congeals into a ball by the time you get through eating half of it."

Although it's considered a product of Italian-American cuisine, fettuccine alfredo was actually invented in Rome by Alfredo di Lelio as a way to calm his pregnant wife's stomach pain, per Cookist. The dish gained popularity in America in 1920, when actors Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford asked for the recipe upon visiting Lelio's restaurant. According to Statista, fettuccine alfredo is the eighth most popular Italian dish, garnering positive reviews from 72% of those surveyed.