Italian Salad

This Italian salad, made with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, olives, pepperoncini, Parmesan, and a creamy vinaigrette dressing, is just like the one at your favorite Italian restaurant. Actually, it’s better.

Two white plates of Italian salad made with iceberg, tomatoes, red onion, and Parmesan.

This Italian restaurant salad is an exact replica of the classic you’ve experienced when out for dinner or on that hoagie from your neighborhood Italian deli that you never thought you could recreate at home.–Angie Zoobkoff

Italian Restaurant Salad

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 20 M
  • Serves 6
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Ingredients

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  • 1 large garlic clove, smashed
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons blended oil (3 tablespoons olive oil and 3 tablespoons vegetable oil)
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 head of iceberg lettuce, cored and coarsely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small red onion (about 2 1/2 oz), thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes (about 3 1/2 oz), halved
  • 1/4 cup smashed Sicilian green olives, pitted
  • 8 pepperoncini
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler (1 cup)

Directions

  • 1. In a large bowl, use a fork to mash the garlic with 1/2 teaspoon of salt to form a paste.
  • 2. Whisk in the mayonnaise, vinegar, oregano, and sugar. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking until the dressing is emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • 3. Add the lettuce, celery, onion, cherry tomatoes, olives, pepperoncini, and Parmesan, and toss to combine.
  • 4. Serve immediately.

Recipe Testers Reviews

The mix of oils, the dry oregano, the red wine vinegar, the mayonnaise for emulsification—these are all keys to recreating a classic Italian restaurant dressing. It took me back not only to salads of my youth but also to the dressing on an Italian hoagie. The crunch of iceberg, the old standard that’s been spurned for more cosmopolitan greens, holds up to this robust vinaigrette like a dancer reunited with an old partner.

I had only one quibble with the recipe and that was that the amount of chopped lettuce was too much for my largest bowl. I had to serve some of the salad onto plates before being able to incorporate the last of the lettuce into the bowl.

Sometimes I forget how much I actually enjoy the unrefined, watery crunch of Iceberg lettuce! This is a great basic old-school style salad for when you're craving a punch of flavor. I grew up in NJ and it tastes exactly like something we would have gotten at Patsy's Tavern in Patterson. I figured my basic-eater kids and husband would be all over this, and I was right!

The 1 teaspoon salt that I used to make the garlic paste was sufficient for a good level of seasoning for the end result—it didn't really need more.

Hello Olive Garden Salad?! This was a perfect Italian salad with nice crunch mixed with a good creamy dressing. Serving the salad premixed with the dressing means it should be consumed in one day (leftovers would be soggy) but that’s not a problem since it’s quite delicious.

Be sure to serve this with some nice breadsticks or garlic bread.

Everyone at the table raved about the salad! It was nice and crunchy with just the right amount of add-ins. The dressing is delicious and so easy to make with ingredients you always have on hand. I definitely needed a double batch.

I washed, dried, and chopped my lettuce and let it chill for about 3 hours before serving. Iceberg lettuce got some new respect!

As I read thru the ingredients, this almost read like the salad my grandfather would make nightly, but the addition of mayonnaise takes it to a creamy direction and gave me a good prompt to buy iceberg lettuce. I admit, iceberg falls out of rotation, yet I grew up with it, and this is a reason beyond wedge salad to bring it back. The ingredients are easily available year round, and mostly are pantry items.

If you taste the dressing before adding the lettuce, it might seem like it has quite a bite, but the sweetness of iceberg lettuce and the addition of the generous Parmesan make it all come together into a comforting, tangy accord.

It only takes a few minutes to smash the olives and pit them, gently pressing down with a shot glass, and breaking them apart. If your dry oregano is on the stem, it takes about 3 generous stems, rubbing the leaves off. I blotted the pepperoncini and olives on a paper towel.

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