Learn How to Understand an Italian Menu

Learning How to Order Food in Italy

Taking a trip to a foreign country can not be considered complete without sampling the cuisine in your new and adventurous destination. It highly recommended on your travels through Italy to try out the nation's very own pasta and pizza dishes. If you don't it's like a foreigner coming to the states and not having a cheeseburger, fries or hotdogs.

It's essential to have a meal at a local restaurant in Italy, autogrill, osteria or the trattoria at least one time. Okay, so now that you are amped to go and experience the delicacies in foreign country, you'll need to know how to order some of these superb Italian dishes. To make it less intimidating, one only has to recognize the food below Italian descriptions. In Italy it is typical to serve separate plates for certain orders so be prepared to find groups of food below specific categories such as before meals, the main course and afterwards a dessert.

Italian categories on the menu will be translated as follows: mozzarella in carrozza or crostini. Many of these foods are served "before the main course" so in Italian they are known as L'antipasto.

Servings in the first course consist of pasta, risotto and soup (zuppa). It is referred to as "Il Primo" in Italian. After that is the main or second course which is made up of heavy meals that include meat, poultry or fish. Don't be surprised if Italians label it as "Il secondo" as it is referred to that fairly common.

Strangely enough, but after the main course is the side dish and dessert. In most cases, the Italian side dish features melanzane (eggplant), insalata mista (mixed salad), or spinaci (spinach).

Now for the best part, dessert, and commonly called "Il dolce" and naturally, it's mostly sweets. While most of the times it is made of custard, there is a vast array of desserts offered in Italian restaurants.

So, now you should have some familiarity with how to correctly understand an Italian food menu, and enjoy your meal with confidence during your stay in Florence, Rome, Sicily, Tuscany or another marvelous place in Italy.

Eurail Passes


Explore Rome, Italy


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