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Things you didn't know about Italian food, restaurants and more

How much do you really know about Long Island's favorite cuisine?

Here are 30 fun facts about Italian dishes, eateries and more.

Spaghetti and meatballs is not an Italian dish

Italians do not put meatballs on spaghetti.
Photo Credit: Susye Greenwood, Fact: mobilecuisine.com

Italians do not put meatballs on spaghetti.

The average Italian eats more than 51 pounds of pasta per year

The average person in Italy eats more than
Photo Credit: Dreamstime, Fact: mobilecuisine.com

The average person in Italy eats more than 51 pounds of pasta every year. The average person in North America eats about 15.5 pounds a year.

Caesar salad was invented in Mexico

Caesar salad, a combination of romaine lettuce, raw
Photo Credit: Johnny Simon, Fact: Erica Marcus

Caesar salad, a combination of romaine lettuce, raw egg yolk, Parmesan cheese and croutons was invented in the 1920s by Caesar Cardini, an Italian restaurateur living in Tijuana, Mexico.

'Buon appetito' is a pre-meal saying

Before eating a meal, Italians say to each
Photo Credit: Doug Young

Before eating a meal, Italians say to each other: "Buon appetito!"

There are more than 600 different pasta shapes

More than 600 pasta shapes are produced worldwide.
Photo Credit: Fotolia, Fact: mobilecuisine.com

More than 600 pasta shapes are produced worldwide.

Spaghetti wasn't always topped with tomato sauce

It was not until the 1700s that tomato
Photo Credit: Timothy Fadek

It was not until the 1700s that tomato sauce was included with spaghetti in Italian kitchens.

Pizza was invented in the 18th century

Pizza was invented in Naples during the 18th
Photo Credit: Dreamstime, Fact: Euroclubschools.net

Pizza was invented in Naples during the 18th century.

There are three things that are always on Italian dinner tables

On the dining table in Italian homes, there
Photo Credit: Fotolia / Andrea Spallanzani, Fact: Euroclubschools.net

On the dining table in Italian homes, there is always water, wine and bread.

'Piccolo' is a popular part of Italian restaurant names on LI

More than a dozen restaurants on Long Island
Photo Credit: Daniel Goodrich, Fact: Erica Marcus

More than a dozen restaurants on Long Island have "piccolo" or "piccola" meaning "small" or "little," in their names, four on Jericho Turnpike alone.

Italian wedding soup is not served at weddings

Italian wedding soup is not a traditional soup
Photo Credit: Dreamstime, mobilecuisine.com

Italian wedding soup is not a traditional soup served at weddings. It just means that the meat and greens go well together.

Lobster fra diavolo is not a traditional Italian dish

Lobster fra diavolo also is not a traditional
Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan, Fact: Erica Marcus

Lobster fra diavolo also is not a traditional old-country dish. It's really another Italian-American invention.

In Italy, pasta is a once-a-day meal

Most Italians eat pasta at least once a
Photo Credit: Dreamstime, Fact: mobilecuisine.com

Most Italians eat pasta at least once a day.

Italy grows more than 300 different kinds of grapes

More than 300 grape varieties are grown in
Photo Credit: Fotolia / Massimo Galeno, Fact: Peter M. Gianotti

More than 300 grape varieties are grown in Italy.

Lunch is the main meal in Italy

The main meal of the day in Italy
Photo Credit: Dreamstime, Fact: euroclubschools.net

The main meal of the day in Italy is at lunch time. The word for lunch is "il pranzo."

The pope once set quality standards for pasta

In the 13th century, the pope set quality
Photo Credit: Fotolia, Fact: mobilecuisine.com

In the 13th century, the pope set quality standards for pasta.

Italy ranks second worldwide in wine production

Italy ranks second worldwide in wine production, trailing
Photo Credit: Dreamstime, Fact: Peter M. Gianotti

Italy ranks second worldwide in wine production, trailing France, and ahead of Spain and the United States.

Neapolitan ice cream originated in America

Neapolitan ice cream originated in the United States
Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Neapolitan ice cream originated in the United States in the late 19th century, and is presumably a reference to the three-layered frozen cream dessert cakes of Giuseppe Tortoni, a Neapolitan.

The USDA once banned imports of prosciutto

The USDA banned imports of prosciutto until 1989.
Photo Credit: Fotolia, Fact: mobilecuisine.com

The USDA banned imports of prosciutto until 1989. Mortadella and Speck were outlawed until 2000. Other meats, including cotechino and zampone, are still banned today.

Clams Casino was invented in Rhode Island

Clams Casino, the dish of baked clams topped
Photo Credit: Jeremy Bales, Fact: Erica Marcus

Clams Casino, the dish of baked clams topped with minced bell pepper, herb butter and slices of bacon, was invented in 1917 by Julius Keller, maitre d' of The Casino, a restaurant in Narragansett, Rhode Island.

Italians only drink milky coffee in the morning

Italians only drink milky coffee, like cappuccino and
Photo Credit: Dreamstime, Fact: euroclubschools.net

Italians only drink milky coffee, like cappuccino and caffelatte, first thing in the morning.

Garlic bread is an American invention

Although garlic and toasted bread are often paired
Photo Credit: Fotolia / Comugnero Silvana, Fact: Erica Marcus

Although garlic and toasted bread are often paired in Italy (Tuscan "fettunta" is a piece of grilled bread rubbed with a cut garlic clove and anointed with olive oil), slathering a split loaf with oil and minced garlic and baking it is American. Ditto the practice of dipping bread in a dish of olive oil.

Sangiovese grapes make two kinds of wine

Sangiovese is the grape of Chianti and Brunello
Photo Credit: Fotolia, Fact: Peter M. Gianotti

Sangiovese is the grape of Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino.

Italian don't put cheese on linguine with clam sauce

Italians have been known to argue over this,
Photo Credit: Dreamstime, Fact: Euroclubschools.net

Italians have been known to argue over this, but traditionally do not put cheese on linguine with clam sauce.

Veal Francese was created in America

Veal Francese was created in Italian-American restaurants as
Photo Credit: Fotolia / Macko Flower, Fact: Erica Marcus

Veal Francese was created in Italian-American restaurants as a Gallic take on veal scallopini.

Each region in Italy has its favorite ways to enjoy pasta

Each region in Italy has its favorite ways
Photo Credit: Dreamstime, Fact: mobilecuisine.com

Each region in Italy has its favorite ways to enjoy pasta. In Rome, two classics are the alla carbonara (with eggs and pancetta, similar to bacon) and cacio e pepe (with cheese and fresh cracked black pepper).

Chicken scarpariello is uncommon in Italy

Chicken scarpariello is uncommon in Italy, although dishes
Photo Credit: Barbara Alper, Fact: Erica Marcus

Chicken scarpariello is uncommon in Italy, although dishes called "scarpariello," which means shoemaker-style and is a rustic sautee (usually with potatoes and sausage), are made in southern Italy.

There's a National Italian Food Day

Feb. 13 is National
Photo Credit: iStock, Fact: mobilecuisine.com

Feb. 13 is National "Eat Italian Food Day."

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