Food is one of the best experiences you can have while in Italy and you certainly can’t leave the country without tasting that authentic Italian food that everyone gushes about! Italians have a passion for food and for visitors to Italy, knowing some simple key phrases will definitely go a long way. That being said, we’ve put together a Survival Guide: Ordering Food in Italian just to help you along with preparations for your trip.
Ordering food in Italian
You know yo’ve hit a tourist trap when the only language option when it comes to the menu is English. Ask for the Italian menu, it’s always fun to put your Italian skills to good use and, if in doubt, you can always ask the waiter for the English translation!
Now you know how to order, let’s talk food! Mmmm food….Keeping it simple, here are some of the staple ingredients you should know.
Of course you already know Vino. But remember vino comes in all types of varieties. Without going into the difference between a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and a Chianti, let’s just differentiate between red and white:
Red wine – Vino rosso (vee-noh rohs-soh)
White wine – Vino bianco (vee-noh bee-ahnk-koh)
Now, who else is feeling thirsty? As Ernest Hemingway said:
“Wine is the most civilized thing in the world.”
Dos & Don’ts
1. Italians love to be greeted so don’t forget to say buongiorno or buonasera before entering a bar or restaurant
2. Due to Italian superstition, when passing salt across the table, always place the salt shaker on the table near the person who wants it, never pass it hand to hand.
3. Generosity at a meal is a sign of hospitality- wiping plates clean of sauces is a sign you’ve really enjoyed your meal. Pass the “pane”!
4. Italians usually go to bars (coffee shops) for breakfast, snacks, or before dinner. They offer coffee, pastries, sandwiches and salty snacks for customers throughout the day– but remember it is a taboo to order cappuccino past 11!
5. When cheersing with a fellow Italian, always look into each others eyes as a sign of respect and trust.
Some of Our Favorite Dishes
Caprese salad: a simple Italian salad with sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil seasoned with salt and olive oil. Its a nice fresh antipasto to start off a meal as well as show off Italian pride: red, white and green.
Carbonara: a Roman dish with a sauce made from eggs, cheese, bacon and black pepper. Spaghetti is usually used, but other pastas such as fettuccini, rigatoni or bucatini are used as well. A big difference between the carbonara we are used to and the real Italian carbonara is that the real carbonara DOES NOT contain cream!
Amatriciana: a traditional Italian pasta dish with a sauce made of guanciale (cured pork cheek- so good!), pecorino cheese and tomato. Amatriciana is usually served using spaghetti or rigatoni.
Tiramisu: a popular coffee-flavored Italian dessert. Made of ladyfingers dipped in coffee, then layered with a whipped mixture of eggs, sugar and mascarpone cheese, flavoured with coca. Try one of our favorite Tiramisu spots in Rome: Pompi!
You can always practice your language skills with the waiters at the restaurant. Italians appreciate foreigners attempting to speak their language and don’t be afraid to mess up, nobody is perfect!
Did You learn how to ordering food in Italian?
If you love Italian food just as much as us, then next time you’re in Rome we would love to show you around the city on one of our famous Food tours. Whether you’re a breakfast and lunch person or an dinner and street food person, The Roman Foodie has you covered. Have a look at our tours in Italy.