Say Arrivederci to Boring Business Lunches: 9 Amazing Italian Dishes You Should Be Ordering

Posted by on Monday, April 14th, 2014 with Comments Off on Say Arrivederci to Boring Business Lunches: 9 Amazing Italian Dishes You Should Be Ordering Comments

Italian food is one of the most popular cuisines in America, and a go-to choice for business lunches or catered fare, thanks to its reputation as a crowd-pleaser. And while ubiquitous dishes like spaghetti and meatballs, fettucine alfredo, lasagna, and (of course) pizza are delicious, if that’s all you order from an Italian restaurant, you’re missing out on some of the best dishes this simple, straightforward cuisine has to offer.

Keep your business lunches exciting and engaging by ordering in some of Italy’s less iconic dishes. While the options are endless (and each region has its own specialties), a few specific items to look out for include…

bucatini all'amatriciana

Bucatini all’amatriciana is a spicy, pork-studded pasta.
Image source: Flickr user Joy

A classic in Rome, bucatini all’amatriciana is a spicy pasta dish traditionally made with bucatini (hollow spaghetti-like noodles), tomatoes, onions, and rich slices of guanciale, a cured pork jowl — although bacon is a common substitute in many American restaurants. Either way, it’s a wonderfully flavorful alternative to straightforward spaghetti with marinara (although, when done right, that dish has a beautiful appeal of its own!).

caponata sicilian specialty

Eggplant never tasted better than it does in caponata.
Image source: Flickr user Stijn Nieuwendijk

Whether served as a vegetarian main, as a spread atop crusty bread, or alongside a piece of fish, the Sicilian specialty caponata is a smart addition to an Italian meal. Eggplant, olives, capers, lemon, parsley, and sugar: the ingredient list may be eclectic, but the result is a fantastic combination of salty, tangy, and sweet flavors quite unlike our usual perception of Italian cooking.

risi e bisi

Rice and peas may sound simple, but making simple ingredients special is the Italian way.
Image source: Flickr user Yari Simone Prete

Risi e bisi (rice and peas) is one of the most famous dishes from Venice, and while its roots are humble, it’s a truly satisfying soup/risotto mashup of peas and rice in a pancetta-laced broth.

When it comes to side dishes, choose panzanella for a true Italian salad (no offense, Caesar). Made from leftover bread combined with fresh tomatoes, red onions, peppers, basil, and olive oil, panzanella may not be the lightest salad you’ve tried, but it will certainly be one of the tastiest. And while breadsticks and garlic bread may be the most common sides at many Italian-American restaurants, vegetables shouldn’t be overlooked — often, fresh, seasonal greens are paired with complementary ingredients for an intensely flavorful side dish. Broccoli strascinati (stra-shin-AH-tee) adds garlic and hot peppers to broccoli, while piselli al prosciutto combines sweet peas with salty prosciutto.

tagliatelle with ragu

Tagliatelle is a rich, eggy pasta well worth a try.
Image source: Flickr user Mikko Kuhna

And, of course, there’s more to pasta than spaghetti or fettucine. Try a dish with orecchiette, the “little ears” of pasta from the Puglia region. Or go for tagliatelle, the rich, eggy ribbons of pasta from Bologna, or tajarin, taglietelle’s thinner cousin from Piedmont (especially wonderful served with earthy mushrooms).

When it comes to planning delicious, approachable business lunches, it can be easy to take the road more traveled — after all, who doesn’t like a nice slice of Margherita pizza or a big plate of lasagna? But, when it comes to Italian, you’ll make a lasting impression on your employees or clients by serving some of these lesser-known dishes! And with a wide array of Italian menus at your disposal, you can have your new favorite dish delivered right to your office with!

When it comes to feeding employees and coworkers, make your company's food program really count! If your workplace dining plan needs to take it up a notch — or if you don't have one at all — is here to help. From Virtual Cafeteria Service to diverse menus to local takeout & offers customizable dining solutions for every business and budget. Contact us today to get started!

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