It is Friday night and you are either searching for a good local restaurant or pulling up the menu for your favorite takeout. Either way, chances are Italian cuisine will be near the top of the list.

Italian food remains one of the most sought-after around the world and is a cuisine that has left an indelible mark on the eating habits of generations of Americans. Just consider one American staple – the pizza.

According to

“Consumer spending on pizza delivery in the United States reached approximately 19.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2021. The industry reported its largest year-on-year growth in recent years, increasing by over five billion U.S. dollars between 2020 and 2021.”

Now, that is a lot of pizza.

However, the popularity of pizza is not the only driving force behind Italian food’s popularity here at home or abroad. Here are a few more interesting statistics to consider:

  • Italian food is served at over 100k restaurants in the U.S. – National Restaurant Association
  • U.S. per capita consumption of Italian cheese amounted to about 15.64lbs in 2020. – Statista
  • 17m tons of pasta was consumed in 2020, almost a 50% increase from 2010. –
  • Italy produces 300k tons of olive oil per year on average. – FoodBeast
  • The global pasta sauce market is projected to be valued at 17.33b by 2027. – Grand View Research  

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Italian Cuisine Remains Most Popular in America and the World 3

What Makes Italian Cuisine Most Loved Compared to Other Foods?

Italian cuisine is loved for more than just cheese, tomatoes, and bread. Fresh and simple ingredients are hallmarks of Italian cuisine. Arranged in a diverse collection of recipes, Italian food is representative of the many eclectic regions of Italy. Taste, flavor, and affordability are additional characteristics that make Italian cuisine one of our all-time favorites.

Some of the most often-used Italian ingredients include:

  • Garlic
  • Basil and oregano
  • Pasta
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Mushrooms
  • Tomatoes
  • Mozzarella
  • Italian cheeses like parmesan
  • Red and white wine
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Capers

With 20 separate regions making up Italy, Italian cuisine was heavily influenced by local ingredients as well as by other factors including climate, natural landscape, and access to water like the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas.

Italy was not unified as one country until 1861, so outside cultural influences from nearby countries and prior invading forces also play important parts in the development of modern Italian cuisine.

Northern Italian food was impacted by neighboring countries such as Austria, France, and Switzerland. Food in the south, especially in Sicily, took on Arab, Turkish, and Greek influences.

To better illustrate the diverse nature of Italian cuisine, compiled this great overview of Italian foods representative of the different areas of Italy.

  • Creamy risotto predominates in the Northern regions
  • Olive oil and tomato-based recipes rule in the South
  • Florentine steaks in Tuscany from choice cattle raised in the Chianina Valley
  • Expensive truffle mushrooms from the Piedmont region
  • Fresh seafood prevails throughout the Italian peninsula
  • Prosciutto and other cured meats are found in the North while various salamis are popular in the South

With such a diverse array of ingredients and flavors, it is not surprising that Italian food has become so popular. There is literally something for everyone in Italian cuisine.

Italian Food Comes to America

All these different ingredients and recipes were brought to America by over four million Italian immigrants who made that important voyage across the sea in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Many of their recipes survived intact while others merged with wholly American tastes to create an Italian-American branch of the cuisine. As Italians settled in cities like New York, Boston, and Chicago, they also created whole new dishes that while considered Italian-American was not exactly found in Italy.

Better wages in America allowed Italian immigrants to incorporate more meat into their diets, thus propelling Sunday meatball dinners to the forefront. Tomato sauce, or gravy depending on the Nana, was also used more extensively in America. In the old country, pasta reigned supreme and were the star of the plate. Sauces always played second fiddle.

So, which Italian-American foods are not found in Italy? The list might surprise you.

  • Spaghetti with meatballs
  • Chicken parm
  • Penne vodka
  • Fettuccine alfredo
  • Creamy carbonara
  • Pepperoni
  • Italian Dressing
  • Garlic bread

Whether it is Italian-American or authentic Italian cuisine, these ingredients and dishes are celebrated across the globe. They are now an integral part of many American traditions such as the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a Christmas Eve celebration of fish and seafood.

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Italian Cuisine Remains Most Popular in America and the World 4

Do Not Forget the Rich Tradition of Desserts in Italian Cuisine

Italian cuisine is often touted for its fresh savory ingredients rich in umami. We would be remiss, however, not to mention Italy and the World’s long love affair with sweet Italian desserts and treats.

According to, the most famous of all Italian desserts is Tiramisu. Ladyfingers are dipped in coffee and then layered with a whipped egg, sugar, and mascarpone cheese cream with cocoa sprinkled on top. A delicious way to end any night of fine Italian food.

A good runner-up to tiramisu, and sometimes contested front runner, is the much-loved cannoli. These tube-shaped fried pastry shells are filled with a sweet and creamy filling. For an extra dessert punch, cannoli ends are sometimes dipped in tiny chocolate morsels or toasted pistachio nuts.

The hallmarks of Italian cuisine – fresh ingredients, variety, and simplicity – can also be found in its desserts. Italian desserts come in many forms, flavors, and styles including:

  • Pastries
  • Cakes
  • Cookies and biscuits
  • Tarts and custards
  • Gelato
  • Fried doughs

There is an Italian dessert for every palate ranging from sweet to savory.

If you are in the mood for something decadent, consider a hazelnut panna cotta with chocolate ganache. You could also accompany that dessert with a nice liqueur or an espresso. For an authentic Italian experience, finish off the meal with grappa or amaro – referred to as a digestivo – to help with digestion.

Or, you could vie for the simpler taste of zeppoles – perfectly golden brown on the outside and fluffy on the inside. This mainstay of Italian street food is a sweet treat regularly found at American state fairs, carnivals, boardwalks, and food trucks.

Where Can I Find Zeppoles by Me?

Great question! Boardwalk Zeppoles is now bringing zeppoles right to your doorstep. We perfected our traditional Italian recipe to bring the real Zeppole experience from the boardwalk to your home. You can now go from freezer to oven to table in just 12 minutes.

You can enjoy your Boardwalk Zeppoles the traditional way with powdered sugar or delve into one of the many Zeppole recipes found on our blog.

Zeppoles can be enjoyed with savory sides like this Spinach Artichoke Dip or Melted Queso with Crumbled Bacon dip. Oh, and we have an out-of-this-world Pizza Dip you must try.

If you are hankering for something sweet, try dipping your Zeppoles into our Easy Peanut Butter Nutella Oreo Dip or our Holiday Fall Pumpkin dip.

No matter which way you choose to serve up your Boardwalk Zeppoles, they will be the perfect addition to all your holiday celebrations, game day gatherings, or as a midnight snack.

CLICK HERE to get your Boardwalk Zeppoles now!