Cucina italiana "made in Italy" in Bulgaria? Why not? The current stereotype that real Italian cooking is served only in Italy is, luckily, untrue. Or, exactly, not always true. Especially for Bulgaria, where you can find a lot of restaurants to eat good specialty regional and typical Italian cooking.
On one hand, you have a lot of good Italian restaurants, but on the other hand, a lot of restaurants that pretend to serve Italian food and prepare, instead, a Bulgarian version of typical Italian dishes. Those "bulgaritalian" dishes, sometimes delicious, sometimes just edible, are the worst enemy of Italian cuisine. Fantasy and creativity are welcome in every kitchen, but the result, if it is a strange mix between Italian tradition and Bulgarian taste, cannot be called Italian food.
Another big problem, as well as fake Italian cooking, concerns the difficulty of finding Italian products to cook. Importing good products is expensive and difficult, but the credit crunch and economic crisis are not valid excuses to economise in the quality of recipes. And no owner of an Italian restaurant choosing to use good and typical products has ever regretted his choice.
In Bulgaria, and especially in Sofia, if you want to try Italy’s sunny taste you have a good range of choices. About the dishes (only a good pizza? Or a simple pasta? Or maybe a refined menu with meat and fish?) and about the level of the restaurant (convivial? Stylish? Elegant?). You can also find Italian dishes on the menu of international cosy restaurants, but you risk encountering "bulgaritalian" food on your table.
However, the panorama is encouraging. Bulgarians love Italian food that is a synonym of tradition, luxury and style; Italian restaurants are the perfect place to go for a romantic dinner or to show off social status to friends.
And at home? Preparing Italian food in your kitchen is very simple, because you can find the base recipes in all Bulgarian markets and supermarkets. For the others (like good olive oil, fresh pasta, sauces…) you have to "explore" different supermarkets to find which one has what you need. And accept that the price is more expensive than in Italy – yes, those are imported products. And if we pretend to use high quality products in Italian restaurants, why not in our kitchens?