Regional flavors and hyper-local specialties are taking center stage at many an Italian restaurant as consumers seek more than the standard spaghetti and meatballs or chicken Parmesan. But a return to authenticity does not preclude a bit of artistic license.
After all, even tomatoes—one of the pillars of Italian cuisine—did not arrive in Europe until the 1500s and was relatively unpopular until the late 19th century (around the same time pizza was invented—mere coincidence?). It’s a similar story for coffee, which provoked the ire of clergy when it first entered Venice some 400 years ago but later won papal approval. Today Italy, arguably, sets the gold standard for the beloved beverage.
This is not to say that chocolate-chip pizza pies and caramel frappuccinos will one day be regarded as Italian staples. Instead, it’s a friendly reminder that “old country” is a relative term, and it never hurts to think outside the (pizza) box.