The Italian restaurant is a pillar of the twenty-first century American dining scene, but it’s easy to forget that Italian cooking goes way beyond pizza and Parmigiana. Traditional Italian cuisine is largely Mediterranean in character, making ample use of such ingredients as citrus, olives, herbs, grains and greens, and seafood, as well as all those best-in-moderation cheeses, salumi, and such.
Nonetheless, for a health-concerned diner, the prospect of entering an Italian restaurant in America today can be intimidating, since so many dishes seem to be deep-fried or covered in a layer of cheese and/or cream sauce. It’s also common for Italian restaurants catering to American appetites to serve food in excessive, over-sized portions — in addition to those bottomless bread baskets that start off the meal at some Italian places.
But there are ways to go out for Italian and eat a nutritious meal that doesn’t make you feel guilty. By sticking with fresh appetizers, grilled seafood, and tomato-based sauces, and avoiding cream-based sauces, deep-fried meats and seafood, and the bread basket, it’s possible to leave an Italian restaurant feeling full but with your diet principles intact.
Here are 13 of the healthiest dishes you can order at an Italian restaurant.