Italian restaurants provide classic comfort foods to people everywhere, regardless of their heritage. Seminole and surrounding cities are home to many establishments specializing in delicious dishes from the boot-shaped country. But what exactly are these foods, and how did they come to be favorites so far from their home country?

How Italian Restaurants Came to the U.S.

Most people believe the food of Italy started appearing when Italian immigrants began making their way to the United States in the 19th century. These people came to start a new life, but brought along their old culture. Italian restaurants popped up all over the country, from Seminole to San Francisco. These establishments mostly catered to their own culture until after World War II. Soldiers returning home from Italy gained a taste for their food, creating a higher demand for the foods that immigrants were happy to make. Over time, foods from Italy became even more popular, assimilating into American culture just as much as hot dogs and apple pie.

Americanized Lasagna

For many Seminole families, whether from Italy or not, lasagna is a well-loved baked dish made for get-togethers and nights when everyone is home together. Traditional lasagna from Italian restaurants layers long flat noodles, cheeses like ricotta, ground meat, and tomato sauce. This version came about in Naples, though other older forms of lasagna actually originated in ancient Greece.

Many people have created Americanized versions of this dish for gluten-free, vegetarian, and other unique twists. Popular recipes include:

  • Vegetable lasagna: made with a creamy white sauce and filled with cooked vegetables.
  • Pancake lasagna: layers of pancake, eggs, sausage, and syrup for a hearty breakfast.
  • Taco lasagna: replacing typical cheeses with a cheddar blend and the sauce with salsa.

You will not find these versions at most local Italian restaurants in Seminole, but they make for excellent homemade meals if you want to try something new.

Pizza Evolution

When people think of Italian restaurants, pizza also comes to mind. This cheesy, doughy pie is an easy favorite among all ages throughout Seminole. Like lasagna, pizza originated in Naples, Italy. The first pizzeria opened in New York City in the early 1900s. Again, it was World War II veterans returning home that gave this dish the boost it needed to become as popular as it now is. Different regions in the country create pies in unique ways, such as Chicago deep-dish, New England, and California-style.

While a “classic” pizza consists of a circular dough crust covered in tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, the possibilities are endless. Choose the thickness of your crust, sauce your pie with barbecue or Alfredo, and top with anything you can think of. Dessert pizzas are gaining popularity as well.

Get Your Cannoli Fix in Seminole

While dessert pizzas are relatively new, cannoli is an old classic that all good Italian restaurants feature. This sweet treat originated in Sicily but easily became a favorite across the United States, from Seminole to Seattle. The original cannoli consists of cylindrical-shaped fried pastry dough piped with a sweet, creamy ricotta filling. Powdered sugar and chocolate chips boost the aesthetic and taste of this pastry. Most versions of cannoli keep it as a delicious dessert while changing up the flavors, like pistachio and maple pecan. In addition, cannoli-lovers convert the handheld bite to pies, dips, and cakes that keep the taste of a classic cannoli.

Gelato: Ice Cream’s Cousin

Gelaterias are almost as popular as regular ice cream shops. Many spots around Seminole specialize in this creamy treat, featuring flavors ranging from vanilla to blue bubblegum. Gelato is ice cream made in an Italian fashion. It contains less butterfat than regular ice cream, making it lower in calories. In addition, it contains more flavoring and less air, giving it a denser texture and richer flavor. The origin of Gelato is debated, though the accepted story is that it comes from Renaissance Florence, created for the Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici. The dish did not gain much popularity in Italy until the early 1900s. Now, many Italian restaurants in America feature at least one flavor of gelato, often vanilla, to create an affogato—a creamy gelato and coffee float.

Brooklyn Pizza Company

At Brooklyn Pizza Company, we specialize in delicious pizza pies. However, we also offer residents of Seminole other classic dishes as true Italian restaurants should. All our offerings include only the best, freshest ingredients, such as Wisconsin whole milk mozzarella and vine ripe San Marzano tomatoes straight from California. Along with our specialty pizzas, like our Bronx Bomber and Jimmy the Greek, we offer chicken parmesan sandwiches, homemade lasagna, and of course, homemade cannoli. To check out our menu and learn more, visit us online or call us at (727) 317-0044.