For some people, it’s a pejorative to call an Italian restaurant a “red sauce” place. fooddude37 thinks of a red sauce restaurant as a place where the pasta is uniformly overcooked, the “red sauce” is excessively reduced and sweet, and the décor is likely to include plastic grapes hanging from the ceiling. The tablecloth is checkered, the salad is served with such dressings as ranch, blue cheese, Thousand Island, and vinaigrette, and the “garlic bread” is not rubbed with fresh garlic, but spread with an insipid mix of old puréed garlic and butter. The “red sauce” restaurant surprisingly often claims to be famous for its lasagne, though you may have such other options as spaghetti, penne, or linguine, smothered in your choice of bad red sauce, mushy meat sauce, or heavy white sauce.

But done right, “red sauce” Italian food can be comforting and hearty, says silverbear. Brian S has a nuanced take on the concept: “I always used the term to refer to the little restaurants in Brooklyn neighborhoods patronized by people whose ancestors came from little villages in the region around Naples (e.g. Teggiano), serving dishes which represent the fruit of seeds (recipes) brought from Italy and then grown for a hundred years on American soil.” In other words, it’s not inauthentic Italian, but authentic Italian-American. Try the baked ziti.

Board Links: ‘Red sauce’ Italian restaurants–what does it mean

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