Christmas & Newstalgia: Menus and Atmospheres Between Past and Present

From traditional classics to Christmas atmosphere: how to personalize the experience to spend a Christmas at the restaurant as with family. Tilby's Drink & Food Observatory reveals the most beloved dishes across Italy.

Choosing a good restaurant during the Christmas holiday season can be a good alternative to dining at home, which is often challenging to organize. An option that was considered by more than 5 million Italians last year (source: Fipe – Confcommercio). On the other hand, as the food delivery sector expands, a new trend is increasingly emerging: the search for authentic gastronomic experiences in familiar and cozy environments, also ideal for special occasions and larger families. 

For the occasion, the Drink & Food Observatory of Tilby - cloud point of sales of the Zucchetti Group - traveled across Italy identifying Italians' favorite Christmas specialties1. According to the analysis, among the protagonists of Christmas 2023 emerges Newstalgia, a trend that evokes dishes and atmospheres linked to happy memories of the past and promotes the great classics of national culinary tradition, sometimes revisited in a modern key. 

"Recipes handed down from generation to generation are a valuable heritage that reflects the history and tastes of a community and provide the basis for restaurants and bars to create the perfect menu for Christmas, combining classic flavors of home cooking with fresh, current reinterpretations", explains Francesco Medda, CEO of Tilby. "Selecting a customized menu that combines the authenticity of great classics with original ideas is the winning key to ensuring a unique experience this Christmas. With the cloud system we also support restaurateurs to analyze sales data and learn about customer preferences, so they can buy the right products and organize stock and supplies as efficiently as possible."   

From lasagna to spaghetti with clams: Italians' favorites 
As Tilby's Drink&Food Observatory also confirms, Christmas traditions vary from region to region, but everywhere it is customary to prepare dishes that reflect the culture of the place and are linked to family roots. Stuffed pasta appears among the top research trends in northern regions: ravioli, agnolotti and tortellini are very popular. Lasagna in the classic version and in the more modern and scenic "decomposed" version are also popular. 

As for main courses, in Piedmont and Liguria mixed boiled meats are especially popular, in Lombardy capon is popular, and in Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige, creamy baccalà is preferred. To vary from traditional preparations, accompanying sauces with citrus, saffron, herbs or apricot can be made. 

Central Italian regions show a predilection for meat-based main courses. Among the most popular options are guinea fowl in Umbria, liver in Tuscany and abbacchio in Lazio. Again, creative condiments such as mint sauce, perfect to accompany lamb, can be offered. As far as first courses are concerned, spaghetti with clams are especially popular: classic, with the addition of bottarga, or in a more elaborate version with saffron and scallops. 

In the southern regions of Italy, tables are mostly filled with seafood dishes: seafood is prominent in Puglia, marinated anchovies in Basilicata. Fried fish is especially popular along the Adriatic and southern coasts, eel is especially popular in Sardinia, and escarole pizza is popular in Campania. 

It's not Christmas without the proper atmosphere  
In order to ensure a unique and unforgettable experience, it is also crucial to devote proper attention to the restaurant's Christmas atmosphere. A warm ambiance, the choice of appropriate music, soft lighting and themed decorations help recreate the enveloping spirit of the family holiday season. The addition of centerpieces, scented candles, Christmas-patterned pillows and evocative shaped napkins makes the ambiance even more thematic. 

1Consumer trend data are derived from the analysis of the search for dishes from various Christmas traditions through Google Trends. For more information regarding Google Trend analysis opportunities and information on additional analysis tools, you can refer to this link