Common Italian Words You'll Need While Dining

It's summer and you may be planning your holidays: an Italian holiday would be all about good food and enjoying a delicious meal with family and friends. If you visit, then, you'll likely spend quite a bit of time in restaurants or eating, so you need to be prepared.

 We've put together some helpful phrases to make your meal time a breeze.


After you are seated, the first thing you will be asked is if you want something to drink: 


W: Vorrebbe ordinare da bere? = Would you like to order a drink?


Y: Posso avere un bicchiere d'acqua? = Can I have a glass of water?

W: Acqua naturale o gassata? = Still or sparkling?

Y: L'acqua naturale va bene = Still water will be fine


Y: Prenderò un succo d'arancia = I'll have an orange juice


W: Vuole qualcos'altro? = Do you need anything else?


Essential to every Italian meal is choosing the right wine:


Y: Vino rosso/bianco = Red/white wine

W: La lista dei vini è alla seconda pagina del menù = The wine list is on the second page of the menu

Un quarto di vino da pasto/da tavola = A quarter of your  house wine


In Italy the menu is not always brought to the table by the host or hostess, therefore it might take a few minutes before one is actually brought to you. And you just might have to ask for one yourself.


Y: Posso vedere il menù? = Can I see the menu?


Waiters in Italy are not always around, they don't work on a tip and therefore they don't act as sales people. So if you're ready to order you just might have to flag one down and ask.


Beginning your meal:


Y: Posso ordinare? = Can I order?


W: Le piacerebbe iniziare con gli antipasti? = Would you like to start with some appetizers?

Y: Un antipasto, va bene = An appetizer sounds good

W: Sono in lista sulla prima pagina del menù = They are listed on the first page of the menu


Salumi misti = selection of cold meats


Frutti di mare = selection of seafood


Y: Ho fame = I'm hungry


Y: Sono un po' di fretta = I'm in a little bit of a hurry

W: Certamente, signore, è pronto per ordinare? = Certainly, are you ready to order, sir?


Choosing your dishes: 


W: Oggi abbiamo riso con il pesce per pranzo = Today we have rice and fish for lunch

Y: E che tipo di minestre avete? = And what kind of soup do you have?

Minestra di verdure, di pomodoro, con i funghi = vegetable soup, tomato soup and mushrooms soup


Some delicious options for you! 


Zuppa di fagioli = bean soup


Spaghetti al ragù = spaghetti bolognese


Spaghetti alla carbonara = spaghetti carbonara


Penne all'arrabbiata = pasta in spicey tomato sauce


Linguine al pesto = flat noodles with basil sauce


Cannelloni = pasta tubes with a bolognese filling


And what about bread?


Pane = bread


W: Bruschetta = toasted bread with garlic and tomato


Y: Potrei avere un po' di pane? = Could I have some bread?


Y: Questo pane caldo è squisito = This hot bread is delicious


Y: Sto mangiando così tanto pane che sono già sazio = I'm eating so much bread that I'm getting full




Sale = salt


Pepe = pepper


Formaggio = 'cheese' is the literal translation, but if you mean parmesan cheese, you can say "Parmigiano"


Oil =olio


Olio d'oliva ( extra vergine) = olive oil


Olio di semi = vegetable oil


Aceto = vinegar


Aceto balsamico = balsamic vinegar


Your main (il Secondo): meat or fish? 


W: Preferisce mangiare carne o pesce? = Do you prefer meat or fish?

Y: Preferisco la carne = I do prefer meat


Bistecca = steak


Y: Vorrei una bistecca al sangue, media, molto cotta = I would like my steak rare, medium, well done


Bistecca di filetto = fillet steak


Filetto al pepe verde = fillet steak with green pepper sauce


Y: Questa bistecca è troppo grassa = This steak has too much fat

Y: Per favore, mi porti una bistecca migliore = Please, could you bring me a better steak?


Side dishes Italian style:


Contorno = side order, usually potatoes (patate), French fries (patate fritte), peas (piselli), tomatoes (pomodori), broccoli (broccoli)


Insalata = salad


Insalata di pollo = chicken salad


Patate in insalata = potato salad


Insalata fresca = fresh salad


Insalata mista = mixed salad


Insalata caprese = tomato and mozzarella salad


Fruit and dessert:


Frutta: Mela, Arancia, Banana, Fragola, Ciliegia, Kiwi, Pera, Pesca, Anguria, Ananas

Fruit: Apple, Orange, Banana, Strawberry, Cherries, Kiwi, Pear, Peach, Watermelon, Pineapple


Dessert o Dolce, Gelato, Torta = Dessert, Ice Cream, Cake


Y: Il Tiramisù è il mio dolce preferito = Tiramisù is my favourite dessert


Coffee/ Il caffè:


Y: Vorrei un caffè, per favore= may I have a coffee, please? 


Be aware that, when simply ordering a "caffè" in Italy, you'll be given an espresso. In case you want something different, you need to specify it:


caffè macchiato= a shot of espresso with a drop of hot, steamed milk


caffè ristretto= an extra short shot of espresso


caffè lungo= an americano


caffè doppio= a double shot of espresso


cappuccino= a shot of espresso with hot, texturized milk


caffè corretto= a shot of espresso with a drop of liquor (you can choose, bu it is usually grappa!)


The Bill: 


Y: Posso avere il conto? = Can I have the bill?


Y: Quant'è? = How much is it?


W: E' 40.00 Euro = That's 40 Euros


W: Va tutto bene qui? = Is everything ok here?


W: Il totale è di E. 40.00 = The total comes to 40 Euros


Y: C'e' un errore nel conto = There is a mistake on the bill


W: Accettiamo carte di credito = We accept credit cards


Some useful, general sentences:


Y: Vengo in questo ristorante da anni = I have been coming to this restaurant for years


W: Le è piaciuto il pranzo? = Did you enjoy your meal?


Y: Era tutto delizioso, grazie = Thanks, it  was all delicious


Y: Faccia i nostri complimenti al cuoco! = send our compliments to the chef!


W: Le piacerebbe avere il caffè o il tè con il dolce? = Would you like coffee or tea with your dessert?


Y: Prenderemo quattro caffè, per favore = We'll have four coffees, please


Just keep some of these helpful words and phrases in mind the next time you're ordering scrumptious food in Italy!


By Elisa Bressan

Edited and updated by Francesca Bezzone, 06/26/2014