Among the food trend predictions for the year, one especially caught our eye. Datassential’s “cuisine of the year” is actually 3-in-one: calling out new takes on the established European cuisines of Italy, France and Greece. What might lie ahead for Italian cuisine – already known by 95% of Americans – to keep it fresh in 2024?
According to the trendologists at Datassential, lesser-known regional dishes and ingredients will be a pathway to successful innovation in 2024. This could take the form of a limited-time feature of a particular region like Lombardia, Calabria or Puglia. Or it could be a simple as highlighting a regional ingredient, cheeses like stracchino (up 32% on Italian restaurant menus) or scamorza (36% of consumers are interested in trying it).
Another approach is to use less common pasta shapes to differentiate and tie into a particular region or story. Bucatini is classic Lazio and Rome, for example; and orrecchiete is pure Puglia. Campanelle’s bellflower shape (sometimes called gigli, or ‘lily’) is the symbol of Florence in Tuscany. Datassential tipped creste di gallo, the rooster’s comb shape, as a top ingredient for the new year. Stay tuned for fun new pasta shapes from Barilla coming in 2024!
Lastly, we’ve touched on it before, but expect to see more operators using mashups of Italian cuisine with other cultures, cuisines and ingredients. One of the hottest is wafu, the collaboration of Japanese + Italian. Italian pastas with umami-laden Japanese ingredients, like a spaghetti with spicy “mentaiko” cod roe, or a miso-inflected cacio e pepe. Mexican-Italian shows a lot of promise too, combining two of America’s favorite cuisines in one delicious mashup. Dishes like sopa seca traditionally use cut spaghetti or fideo pasta, but what about a baked campanelle with poblano cream and guajillo-glazed shrimp?