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Common Italian Words You'll Need While Dining

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.


You'll no longer need a dictionary to order your food in Italy after reading this article! (Gianfranco Reppucci/flicrk)


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 for tips, so they don't act as sales people. 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

Bruschetta = toasted bread with garlic and tomato

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

Questo pane caldo è squisito = This hot bread is delicious

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"

Olio =oil

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


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


Bistecca = steak

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

p>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


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


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