Italian Food & Cinema - A Love Affair
Our love for food and cinema is almost as strong as our love for well-sauced pasta. Over the years, a number of classic films have depicted the Italians’ love for food we can definitely relate to; from The Godfather and Big Night to Eat Pray Love and more recently, From Scratch. Each of these films has romanticised Italian cuisine in a manner that it’s nearly impossible to not be inspired to head to your kitchen and toss a plateful of pasta.
The next time you’re looking to be inspired in the kitchen and want to eat with your eyes, kick back with some pesto and focaccia and feast on these 5 films and shows that you absolutely must watch if you love Italian food.
A crime classic with the perfect recipe to make you jump in anticipation and leave you hungry for more.
Whilst you wouldn’t expect one of the most iconic crime thrillers of cinematic history to be a part of this list, two scenes, in particular, stand out in our minds anytime we step inside the kitchen. Clemenza (Richard S. Castellano) teaching a young Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) how to make a tomato sauce with meatballs is the perfect example of the simplicity Italian cuisine is known for. It’s also a great representation of recipes being passed down in Italy and cooking being an expression of love. The second scene, though not as romantic, is when Rocco (Tom Rosqui) shoots Paulie (John Martino) after they realise the latter’s betrayal of the family. The former is ordered by Clemenza in the scene to “Leave the Gun. Take the Cannoli” – an expression of tenderness towards food.
This movie is a classic representation of how Italian families, no matter what the circumstances, bond and connect over food. An absolute feast for the eyes.
You can watch The Godfather on Prime Video.
Eat Pray Love
A commercial masterpiece that’s sure to never let you look the same way at Italian breads, pizza and pasta again.
This Julia Roberts starring drama might have been released in 2010 but that scene of Elizabeth Gilbert (Julia Roberts) giving in to her love for pasta makes us hungry even today. Though the movie is centred around a larger message of finding oneself, Roberts’ love affair with food showcases moments of comfort, joy, indulgence and simplicity.
The scene showcasing Neapolitan pizza at L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele will definitely make you crave a slice with that thin, hand-stretched pizza base and a freshly prepared Marinara. Roberts devouring of a heaped plate of Spaghetti all’Amatriciana (native to the town of Amatrice near Umbria) is a sheer celebration of Italy’s most consumed dish as well as pure, unadulterated joy. Her day at home in Rome is absolutely magical as she treats herself to a simple meal of asparagus, hard-boiled eggs and prosciutto.
All in all, we love the simple yet grand celebration of Italian cuisine depicted in this film. We’re definitely watching it right after we finish this piece.
You can rent and watch Eat, Pray, Love on Netflix.
In the timeless classic Roman Holiday, the enchanting backdrop of Rome sets the stage not only for a whirlwind romance but also for a captivating culinary journey. Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) and Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) find themselves immersed in the city's culinary delights as their love story unfolds.
From the get-go, food becomes a central theme in the film. While Hepburn’s character is seeking an escape from her structured life, she indulges in her first gelato at the foot of the Spanish Steps, relishing the simple pleasure with childlike wonder. It's a moment of liberation, symbolised by the pure joy of savouring an authentic Italian gelato.
The story gradually progresses to Peck’s character being introduced to the bustling Roman food scene and their shared meals reflect their growing connection. They dine in charming sidewalk cafés, sipping wine and savouring countless pasta dishes that celebrate the essence of Italian cuisine. It's in these moments that their connection deepens and the boundaries of their respective worlds blur.
We absolutely loved the way Italian cuisine was portrayed via metaphors throughout this cinematic masterpiece as the love story unfolded. If nothing else, we know we’re definitely getting ourselves a large scoop of gelato after watching this film.
This 1950 release features Primo (Tony Shalhoub) and Secondo (Stanley Tucci) as brothers who open an Italian restaurant in New Jersey. Italians take their culinary culture very seriously and this film is a great example of how by simply reimagining classics, you can win hearts and stay true to your traditions and legacy.
The brothers’ restaurant faces stiff competition from the neighbouring American-Italian restaurant and in the hopes of reviving business, they reimagine their dishes to produce a grand, meat and cheese-filled pasta drum – a visual treat and one we can only imagine, is great to taste as well.
We love how this film places emphasis on staying true to one's identity and ethnicity; a recommended Sunday night watch.
You can rent and watch Big Night on Prime Video.
This Netflix mini-series starring Zoe Saldana as Amy is set in Florence, Italy. The show sets out to explore Amy’s journey of growth and discovery as she takes a break from law school to explore her passion for art.
The tasting menu showcased early on in the series highlights the strong ingredient philosophy Italy is known for, as well as how food is intrinsically woven into the fabric of an Italian’s life. This series brilliantly intertwines food, culture and personal narratives to create a captivating narrative that transcends the realm of mere cooking. At its heart, From Scratch is not just about recipes and techniques, it's a testament to the cultural significance of food in Italy.
We were genuinely impressed with how the show enabled us to immerse in the stories and traditions that infuse Italian cuisine with soul.
You can watch From Scratch on Netflix.
So, these are the cinematic delights that keep us coming back for some glimpses of the culinary world of Italy. Watching these movies (and more) has always been a treat to our eyes and taste buds and we’re sure you’ll feel the same way too. So plan your next movie night with your friends or loved ones as we take care of your dinner! Get your hands on some of our gourmet Italian ready-to-cook meal combos or sumptuous snacking options that will keep your tummy (and heart) full!