TripAdvisor notes that there are almost 2,000 Italian restaurants in the Swedish capital, but even though Italian people here are spoilt for choice, they're not pleased with what shows up on the dinner plate.
Their major complaint is about the authenticity of the ingredients in the Italian dishes. Also, the cooks’ nationality plays an imperative part, many expats told The Local.
"It's just pretending to be Italian food," says Luigi Servadio, an Italian doctoral candidate. "Simply because it lacks original ingredients and because it lacks original cooks."
"There is a cultural difference in the way they cook. For example, when you prepare tomato sauce, it is not only the mixing of ingredients but it is about the way you mix the ingredients. It is also about the selection of the right kind of tomatoes. The preparation time matters a lot more in Italy than in Sweden,” explains Servadio.
"We eat pasta and sauce in fixed combinations which we don’t see here in Stockholm. Here they use cream, put butter instead of oil, and prepare Bolognese in a pan and not a pot," says another northern Italian expat, who prefers to remain anonymous.
Another PhD student complained about Stockholm Italian joints catering too much to Swedish tastes.
"I think the main problem is due to the difference in raw produce like the vegetables, especially tomatoes, and the olive oil, as well as a certain 'Swedization' of different dishes," says Andrea.
"So it's neither Italian nor Swedish," Rita Rustico Antonsson chimes in about the Suedo-Italian hybrids offered in restaurants.
The amalgamation of two lands' taste does not provide the delicious results so many expats yearn for. Neither does the ambience of the restaurants please the expats, many of whom deem it artificial.
Some play up the Italian stereotype too much, says Andrea.
"Based on the image of Italy that foreigners have in their mind, which largely comes from the movies like The Godfather," says Andrea
Every expat has their own list of favourite Italian restaurants.
Pizzeria dell´Attore and Pane e Vino are two of the common Italian restaurants on the expats’ top list.
"Pizzeria dell´Attore in Skeppargatan is my favourite because you get 80 percent original pizza. And I'm not just referring to the pizza, but also the venue. The atmosphere is quite similar to what you find in Italy," says Servadio.
"For pizza, I love to go to Pane e Vino in Zinkensdamn because they make a real pizza from Naples," says Antonsson.
The others topping the restaurants' list are Italiano on Nybrogatan, Italiano Papa on Riddargatan and Michelangelo in Gamla Stan and the chain of Primo Ciao Ciao.
The expats readily came up with suggestions for the improvement of these Italian restaurants.
"Add different dishes each month from different regions so every Italian customer feels really at home, and Swedish diners can taste different dishes and simulate a trip to Italy," says Antonsson.
Many Italians would also love to be addressed in Italian, but also that request comes with caveats.
"Please! Speak Italian and avoid writing the menu with lots of spelling mistakes," says Servadio in a pleading tone.
"If you don´t speak Italian and write Italian, your Italian cuisine is not credible. And you can feel it from the first bite."