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Little Big Italy: discovering the best Italian restaurants abroad

Little Big Italy, italian flavour. Italian cuisine is loved and celebrated worldwide. Its authentic flavors and traditional recipes have won the hearts of millions, becoming a symbol of excellence and quality. No matter where you are, you can find Italian restaurants offering a taste of the Bel Paese. Why is Italian cuisine so globally successful? The answer is simple: its ability to combine fresh, genuine ingredients with artisanal preparation techniques. This combination creates dishes that not only satisfy but also tell a story of culture, passion, and tradition.

Little Big Italy and the challenge of Made in Italy abroad

Amid growing international interest in Italian cuisine, the TV show Little Big Italy was born.This show blends passion and hosting to explore the best Italian restaurants outside Italy. What makes this show special? Little Big Italy doesn’t just review restaurants; it tells the stories of those who brought a piece of Italy to distant lands. Each episode is a journey discovering Italian culinary excellence, with a keen eye on the quality and authenticity of the dishes.

Airing on Nove channel since 2018, the program is hosted by restaurateur and entrepreneur Francesco Panella, owner of the historic Roman restaurant Antica Pesa, with locations in Rome and Brooklyn. The show’s format is simple but captivating: Panella travels the world searching for the best Italian restaurants abroad, pitting them against each other to find the most authentic Italian experience. In each city, Francesco meets three expatriates who take him to their favorite restaurant, where they find the flavors of home. With a challenge of three dishes, they will taste and vote in three categories: the expat’s choice, the chef’s specialty, and Francesco’s personal craving, an off-menu item.

Each episode of Little Big Italy immerses viewers in Italian culinary culture, seen through the eyes and experiences of emigrant restaurateurs. Throughout various seasons, Francesco Panella visits different cities, sampling traditional and innovative dishes, and talking with chefs and restaurant owners. Consequently, the program has reached several seasons, each with episodes telling unique stories of passion and dedication to Italian cuisine. Therefore, viewers not only enjoy the diverse culinary offerings but also gain a deeper understanding of the commitment to preserving Italian gastronomic traditions.

 The sixth season of Little Big Italy: Italian cuisine lands in the East

The latest season of Little Big Italy offers viewers an unforgettable culinary journey through the East. In this season, Francesco Panella explores the best restaurants in the Orient in six episodes. The first episode sees Panella land in Dubai. This city combines modernity and tradition in a unique mix. Here, Panella discovers Italian restaurants that blend culinary traditions with innovation, bridging Italy and the Middle East.

The second episode focuses on Kuala Lumpur. The challenge here becomes even more intriguing. The journey then continues through other Eastern cities, exploring Malaysia and Thailand. In these places, Panella finds well-curated and contemporary-designed restaurants. They convey a modern and refined idea of Italian cuisine. This demonstrates that the culinary excellence of the Bel Paese can be found even in the most unexpected places.

naples classes and little big italy

Italian restaurants abroad: a global success phenomenon

TV shows like Little Big Italy highlight a global phenomenon: the massive spread of Italian restaurants worldwide. This success showcases the unstoppable rise of Italian cuisine. Consequently, it has established itself as one of the most loved and sought-after globally. According to data from The European House – Ambrosetti, Italian restaurants abroad far outnumber French and Spanish ones, which once dominated the international culinary scene. Furthermore, Italian chefs have opened restaurants in every corner of the world. They bring with them the culinary traditions of their regions. As a result, this spread has made Italian cuisine accessible to an ever-wider audience while maintaining high quality and authenticity. It’s not just about pizza and pasta, but also regional specialties reflecting Italy’s gastronomic heritage.

The boom of Italian restaurants abroad is impressive. A prime example is Tokyo, where there are 5,000 Italian restaurants compared to 2,000 French ones. But Tokyo is not alone: Italian cuisine has conquered many other global metropolises. In New York, there are nearly 1,000 Italian restaurants, representing 11% of the city’s entire dining scene. In Australia, Melbourne counts about 320 Italian restaurants, while Rio De Janeiro has 700. These numbers illustrate the widespread appreciation and replication of Italian cuisine worldwide.

The phenomenon of Italian cuisine abroad: a double-edged sword

The spread of Italian cuisine worldwide is undoubtedly a source of pride and satisfaction. Little Big Italy shows how Italian restaurants abroad can be authentic bastions of our culinary tradition. However, this phenomenon also brings challenges and concerns. Defining what “Italian restaurant” means abroad is crucial. Many places use elements of our culture but offer cuisine only vaguely related to our traditions , often fused with local recipes.

These culinary contaminations are not necessarily negative. Cuisine has always been enriched by fusions between different gastronomic traditions. However, the phenomenon of Italian sounding, selling products that poorly imitate Italian excellence, represents a serious problem, causing not only image damage but also economic harm to Made in Italy. Little Big Italy teaches us that authenticity and passion can keep the reputation of Italian cuisine high, even thousands of kilometers away.

(fonte immagine: Freepik)

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