What do you consider 'old-school' Italian?

This is not a knock: Is it those red sauce joints putting out dishes like: Spiedini, Chicken Parm, Meatballs & Spaghetti, Osso Buco, or how about a good Braciola. As opposed to so-called ‘modern Italian’. How would you define it, give examples? Do you cook ‘old-school’ at home? Tell us of a favorite dish or eatery?

I love Spaghetti and Meatballs or with meat sauce. With lots of grated cheese. It’s something my mom made really quick after working all day. For many it’s the first Italian dish they experience other than pizza. It’s comfort food.


Aside from spaghetti and meatballs with Kraft Parmesan I would say that my favorite child hood “old school” Italian would be chef boyardee ravioli


Chicken parmesan and spaghetti with meatballs are old-school Italian-American dishes unheard of in Italy. I don’t currently know a good place to get that stuff but I haven’t looked for one in a few years either.

Osso buco is just oxtail. I don’t think there’s a big difference between Italian-Italian and Italian-American versions. Same for braciole.

When I saw this title I wondered if “old school” might mean “Italian American.”

Italian food in Italy is basically all old-school, with the exception of a handful of dishes added in recent decades (e.g. penne alla wodka, tiramisù) and the small fraction of restaurants that do nuova cucina.

Mmm, braciole. I suppose searching Yelp for that might be a good way to turn up old-school Italian-American places.

You are right, catholiver, ‘old-school’ Italian is often thought of as ‘Italian-American’ red sauce. Though that would hardly be old school really. There is some confusion. Italian American cuisine evolved once Italian immigrants arrived here, especially in the East Coast. New York metro is loaded with ‘old-school Italian-American’ restaurants…

If we were going for a nice meal at a classic old school Italian joint in Astoria like Parkside or Army’s we would order something like this

  • clams casino
  • veal parm
  • shrimp fra daivalo
  • chicken scapirella in the bone with sausage and peppers
  • steak pizzaiola
  • linguine and clams
  • penne alla vodka

Finish off with some idea across the street at Lemon Ice King of Corona and watch some bocce.


Very appetizing! Mangia, Mangia!

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That’s a modern dish, it became popular in Italy in the 80s and then caught on here. Like tiramisù.

Italian food evolved everywhere Italians settled. The San Francisco dish cioppino evolved from the Ligurian fish soup ciupin.

I hear you. It’s like turning on the oldies or classic rock station and hearing Guns N Roses. Throws me for a loop. But the 80s was a few decades ago. We ain’t spring chickens no more.


When I say “old-school Italian,” I mean the dishes they served at places that went out of business before they heard about penne alla wodka.

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And, if we’re gonna be picky about it, well, Parkside’s in Corona :innocent:
And a perfect example.

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Now I’m in the mood for a good, sturdy lasagna, red meat sauce, or bechamel…

Not veal shank?

Like U.S.Restaurant.

Veal shank.

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marcella hazan recipes. Marcella Hazan’s spaghetti, garlic and olive oil sauce, Roman style (aio e oio) | Noodles | The Guardian

That recipe has half the oil it should. When they recycled her two first cookbooks (The Classic Italian Cook Book and More Classic Italian Cooking) into Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking they arbitrarily reduced most of the fats, reasonable in most cases, wrong in others.

Should have twice the garlic as well. She was a northerner so pretty much always used less garlic than southerners do.

Oh yeah, you’re right. I was thinking of coda alla vaccinara, the other bone dish Romans make all the time.

I just made both recently so I shouldn’t make that mistake.

Thanks for this. Well worth pursuing.