Plate of pasta on a white plate on a paper placemat. There is cutlery and water on the table.
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How To Order Food In Italian – Phrases, Tips & Guides From A Local

Last updated on March 17th, 2024

Are you planning a trip to Italy and wondering how you are going to manage the foreign language? Chances are you will be spending a great deal of your time chowing down in Italy so why not learn the basics before sitting down to your next meal?

When I first came to Italy over 20 years ago I didn’t know anything about how to order food in Italian but after being a permanent resident in Florence for over over a decade, I am confident in how to do so. 

In this article, I will share with you my top tips, useful vocabulary, phrases and personal audio clips for how best to order food in Italian, no matter the circumstance, eatery or time of day. Looking for an afternoon gelato? I have all the vocab you need. Going for lunch after a wine tasting? Read on! Stopping in for coffee? It’s my jam!

Easy to navigate and simple to implement, I can guarantee this guide will help you eat your way through Italy no matter where you are on the peninsula!

Traditional Italian Meal Courses In Italian

Close up of Italian menu with courses and prices.

Below, is a short rundown of each Italian meal course. For a full guide to understanding an Italian meal structure and meal courses in Italy, read Traditional Italian Meal Structure – A Guide For Travelers and Italian Dinner Courses – A Guide For Travelers From A Local In Italy + Quick Guide.

Meal CourseEnglish TranslationWhat To expectExample
AntipastoAppetizerA small bite to wet your palletAffettati mist (charcuterie board)
PrimoFirst CourseA starch course (soup, pasta, rice, polenta)Pasta al pomodoro (pasta with tomato sauce)
SecondoSecond CourseMeat or fishPeposo (Florentine beef stew) 
ContornoSide DishSide dishes (served with second course)Piselli o fagioli (peas or beans)
DolceDessertDessertTiramisù
CaffèCoffee Nothing more than an espresso (no cappuccino)Caffè (espresso)
DigestivoDigestif a small shot of a sweet liquor Grappa

Good To Know: Italians won’t order every single course on a menu unless it’s a celebration of some kind. They usually order two things (antipasto + primo or primo + secondo, for example). Read more about eating etiquette in A Visitor’s Guide To Eating In Italy – Italian Food Etiquette 101 (How To Order + My Tips).

General Food Etiquette When Ordering Food In Italian

frontal view street view of a cicchetti and aperitivo bar in florence with a big door and sign hanging to the left. There is a man waving inside at the camer.

Italians always look people in the eyes and greet whoever is in the room when they enter, be it a bar, restaurant, sandwich shop or pizzeria. Keep these good mannered terms handy the next time you order food in Italian.

ItalianPronunciationEnglish Translation
Buongiornobwohn-johr-nohGood Morning
Buonaserabwohn-ah-sehr-ahGood Evening
Buonanottebwohn-ah-noht-tehGoodnight 
Per favorepehr-fah-voh-rehPlease
Graziegrah-tzee-ehThank You
Pregopreh-gohYour welcome
Mi dispiacemee dees-pee-ah-chehI’m sorry
Mi scusimee skoo-zeeExcuse me (to apologize or get someone’s attention)
Permessopehr-meh-sohTo pass by or get through a crowd

How To Order Food In Italian At A Bar

Cornetto pastry and coffee on the table at Bar Poliziano in Montepulciano, Italy.

How you order food in Italian at a bar will depend on whether you are sitting or standing at the bar. If you are standing, it’s quite easy, similar to ordering a coffee.

How To Order Food In Italian Standing At A Bar

  1. Decide what you would like from the counter and pay at the cash register. Keep your receipt.

Vorrei un panino con prosciutto cotto e formaggio e un bicchiere di acqua, per favore.

“I would like a sandwich with ham and cheese and a glass of water, please.”

  1. Go to the counter and put your receipt onto the bar countertop. Indicate what you would like, either by pointing or repeating your order.
  2. If you are at a bar with table service, you cannot sit down because you have already made the decision to eat standing when you ordered at the cash register. If the bar does not have table service, you can bring your sandwich to a table. 
  3. Always say goodbye and thank you before leaving: Grazie, arrivederci

Good To Know: Even if you are ordering a full meal such as simple primi and secondi at a bar, the method will be the same for ordering the food at the counter. 

If the bar doesn’t care that you pay first, follow the instructions above but be sure to go to the cash register and pay before you leave! The bar won’t bring you a bill in this case. Just remind them what you had at the register by saying:

Ho preso un primo, un acqua, un dolce e un caffè. 
I had a first course, a water, a dessert and an espresso.

How To Order Food In Italian Sitting Down At A Bar

side view of bar with people sitting down with green plants and bright lights

Some Italian bars, especially fancy bars or bars in a city center, will offer table service. What does this mean? It means you don’t have to tip but you may be charged higher prices and even a coperto to cover the costs of table waiting. 

Ordering food sitting down at an Italian bar is similar to ordering food at a restaurant. You will likely be handed a menu and will be asked what you would like. 

Good To Know: At a bar, there is no expectation that you will order a certain number or courses. Many eating “rules” in Italy go out the window at bars including dining hours. Order whatever you like from the menu, whenever!

Follow these basic instructions for ordering food in Italian sitting at a bar:

  1. Decide what you would like and kindly ask the waiter,

Vorrei la pasta alle vongole mentre lui vuole un panino con mortadella e una Fanta, per favore.
“I would like the pasta with clams and he will have a sandwich with mortadella and a Fanta, please.”

  1. When you are done, ask for the bill,

Posso avere il conto, per favore?
“May I please have the bill, please?

  1. Pay directly with the waiter.

How To Order Coffee At A Bar

If you are looking to order coffee (or really any beverage) at an Italian bar, you will do so just as you would food standing or sitting at a bar. 

Coffee culture is huge in Italy, anytime of the day but especially at breakfast when Italians use their bar stop as a moment to socialize and catch up with friends and acquaintances. I have plenty of Italian friends who have breakfast every single day at the bar before heading to work.

If you order coffee in Italy for breakfast, it will usually be very busy and you will have to be assertive. Follow the same instructions for ordering food at a bar:

Vorrei un caffè in vetro e un brioche vuoto, per favore.
“I would like an espresso in a glass cup and a plain pastry, please.”

For a full list of coffee beverages to order in Italy, read and don’t miss our comprehensive guide on How To Order Coffee in Italy – Step-by-Step + Tips.

Helpful Vocabulary For Ordering Food At A Bar

Italian PronunciationEnglish Translation
Vorrei…vohr-reh…I would like…
Dove posso pagare?doh-veh pohs-soh pah-gah-rehWhere can I pay?
Posso pagare con la carta?pohs-soh pah-gah-reh cohn lah cahr-tahMay I pay with a card?
lo scontrinoloh skohn-tree-noha receipt
il contoeel cohn-tohthe bill
Da portare viadah pohr-tahr-reh vee-ahtake-away
Un paninooon pah-nee-noha sandwich
l’acqualahk-kwahwater
Caffècahf-fehcoffee
Dolcedohl-chehdessert
Piatto del giornopee-aht-toh dehl johr-nohdaily special

How To Order Food In Italian At A Restaurant

Outside entrance of a trattoria in Italy.

Ordering food in Italian at a restaurant can be daunting but if you know how a menu works, how the meals are structured and what is expected, it’s a breeze. 

Learn More: Curious to learn about all the different eateries in Italy? Check out What Is A Trattoria? – Your Guide To Italian Eateries, From Ristoranti & Osterie to Paninoteche & Tavole Calde.

To order food in Italian at a restaurant, all you need to do is indicate what you would like on the menu, being sure to let the waiter know if you have any allergies. For example:

Vorrei gli spaghetti alle vongole e un bicchiere del vermentino, per favore.
“I would like the spaghetti with clams and a glass of vermentino (wine), please”

Io prendo la bistecca fiorentina con le patate arroste, i fagioli e l’insalata mista, per favore.
“I will have the Florentine steak with the roasted potatoes, white beans and salad, please.”

Vorrei le trofie al pesto e lei vorrebbe il pollo arrosto con i finocchi al forno, per favore. 
“I would like the trofie pasta with pesto and she would like the roasted chicken with roasted fennel, please.”

Vorrei l’insalata di polpo e patate, per piacere ma sono allergico al prezzemolo.
“I would like the octopus and potato salad, please but I am allergic to parsley.”

How To Ask For A Table In Italian

Inside a restaurant in Italy. You can see tables set with silverware, dishes, and wine glasses.

Whether you are hoping to call and pre-book a table at a restaurant or just are a walk in, you might be curious how to ask for a table.

To book a table over the phone:

Vorrei prenotare un tavolo per tre persone sabato alle 20.00.
“I would like to book a table for three people Saturday at 8:00 pm.”

or 

Sarebbe possibile prenotare un tavolo per sei persone domenica a pranzo verso le 13.00?
“Would you have a table for six people for lunch around 1:00 pm on Sunday?”

Helpful Vocabulary For Ordering Food At A Restaurant In Italy

ItalianPronunciationEnglish Translation
Vorrei…vohr-rehI would like…
Vorremmo…vohr-rehm-mohWe would like…
Io prendo…ee-oh prehn-dohI’ll have…
Specialità della casa/del giornospeh-chah-lee-tah dehl-lah cah-zah/dehl johrn-nohhouse special/daily special
Piattopee-aht-tohdish
Colazionecoh-laht-zeeoh-nehbreakfast
Pranzoprahn-zohlunch
Cenacheh-nahdinner
Cameriere/akahm-ehr-ee-ehr-eh/ahwaiter/waitress
Tavolotah-voh-lohtable
Menùmeh-noomenu
Da bambinodah bahm-bee-nohfor children
Antipastoahn-tee-pah-stohappetizer
Primopree-mohfirst course
Secondoseh-cohn-dohsecond course
Contornocohn-tohr-nohside dish
Dolcedohl-chehdessert
Caffècahf-fehcoffee
Digestivodee-jeh-stee-vohdigestif
Forchetta fohr-keht-tahfork
Cucchiaiocook-kee-ay-ohspoon
Coltellocohl-tehl-lohknife
Tovagliolo toh-why-oh-lohnapkin
Bicchierebeek-kehr-ehglass
Da beredah beh-reh(something) to drink
Bevandabev-ahn-daha drink
Vinovee-nohwine
Acquaahk-kwahwater
Copertocoh-pehr-tohcover charge
Quanto c’è da aspettare?kwahn-toh cheh dah ah-speh-tahr-rehHow long of a wait is it?
Ho prenotato un tavolo per stasera sotto Clara. oh preh-noh-tah-toh oon tah-voh-loh pehr stah-ser-ah soht-toh clah-rahI booked a table for tonight under Clara.
Posso prenotare un tavolo?pohs-soh preh-noh-tar-eh oon tah-voh-lohMay I book a table?
Preferiamo un tavolo dentro.preh-fehr-ee-ah-mo oon tah-voh-loh dehn-trohWe prefer a table indoors.
Avete un tavolo fuori?ah-veh-teh oon tah-voh-loh foo-oh-reeDo you have a table outdoors?
Siamo in tre stasera.see-ah-moh een treh stah-seh-rahWe are three tonight.

How To Order Food In Italian To Go

Woman holding takeaway boxes of pizza in front of a pizzeria in Italy.
My holding my take-out pizza from Pizzeria Linda in Montepulciano

Many Italian restaurants don’t prepare food to-go unless you are at a specific to-go spot such as at a tavola calda or some bars or pizzerie

The procedure for ordering food in Italian to go is the exact same as if you are ordering food at a restaurant or at a bar but you will need to indicate that you want it to-go. 

Vorrei la pizza ai quattro formaggi da portare via, per favore.
“I would like the four cheese pizza to-go, please.”

Vorrei una porzione di lasagne da asporto, per favore.
“I would like one portion of lasagna to-go, please.”

Good To Know: Generally speaking, if you don’t finish your food at a restaurant in Italy, they won’t wrap it up to-go for you. It’s just not part of the culture. The one exception is leftover pizza (Italians usually eat their whole pie though in my experience!).

How To Order Pizza In Italian

Three to-go pizzas sitting on their cardboard boxes.

How you order pizza in Italian will depend on what kind of pizza you are ordering. If you are eating pizza a taglio or pizza a trancio (pizza to-go), you will just order at the counter and pay at the register, just as if you were at a bar:

Vorrei un pezzo di pizza margherita, per favore.
“I would like a piece of margherita pizza, please.”

The server will most likely ask you if you would like it warmed up or riscaldato

If you are ordering pizza at a pizzeria, you will order the pizza as if you were in a restaurant. Expect the same sequence of events in terms of timing and payment.

The waiter will first come and bring you a menu, asking what you would like to drink. They will then come back with your drinks and take your order.

Vorrei una pizza con i funghi e lui prende una pizza con prosciutto crudo, per favore.
“I would like the mushroom pizza and he will have the pizza with prosciutto, please.”

There are so many different ways and scenarios to order pizza in Italy. Read Ordering Pizza In Italy – A Traveler’s Guide To Ordering Pizza A Taglio, Take-Out Pizza And Pizza Pinsa! for my full guide.

And if you are curious about how Italians eat their pizza in Italy, read How Do Italians Eat Pizza? – Answers From A Large Italian Family and Do Italians Eat Pizza With A Fork? Answers From An Italian Family.

Helpful Vocabulary For Ordering Pizza In Italy

Italian PhrasePronunciationEnglish Translation
Vorrei…vohr-rehI would like…
Una pizzaoo-nah peetz-ah one pizza
Due pizzedoo-eh peetz-ehtwo pizzas
Da portare viadah pohr-tahr-eh veeahtake-away
un tranciooon trahn-chohone slice
Riscaldatoree-scahl-dah-tohwarmed up
Senza glutinesehn-zah gloo-tee-nehgluten-free
Senza formaggiosehn-zah fohr-mahj-johwithout cheese
Senza pomodorosehn-zah poh-moh-doh-rohwithout tomato
Pizza biancapeet-zah bee-ahn-kahwhite pizza (no tomato or tomato sauce)
Sono vegano/asoh-noh veh-gah-noh/nahI am vegan
Basilicobah-see-lee-cohBasil
Piccantepeek-kahn-tehSpicey
Formaggiofohr-mahj-johcheese
Margheritamahr-geh-ree-tahpizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella (basil)
Napolinah-poh-leepizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella, anchovies and oregano
Bufalaboo-fah-lahpizza with tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella
Cotto E Funghicoht-toh eh foon-geemargherita pizza with cooked ham and mushrooms
4 Formaggikwaht-troh fohr-mahj-jeea white pizza with a combination of four different Italian cheeses
Calzonekahl-zoh-neha folded pizza with various fillings including mozzarella and tomato sauce. 

How To Order Gelato In Italian

Hand holds up gelato cone in front of Bar Centrale.
Holding my gelato in Cetona

Ordering gelato is easy and simple in Italy. With a few basics under your belt, you will be ordering gelato like a pro in no time. For a full rundown on how to order gelato in Italy, read How To Order Gelato In Italy – Step-by-Step Guide + Tips

There are two main ways you will order gelato in Italy. The first is to pay and then order your gelato flavor at the counter. The second is to pick your flavors and then pay. It will be fairly clear what people are doing ahead of you so just follow the crowd!

If you pay first, follow these easy steps:

  1. Find the register and choose your size and specify whether you want a cup or a cone.

Vorrei un cono piccolo, per favore.
I would like a small cone, please.”

  1. Pay with a cash or card (under €5.00, stores are not required to provide a card payment option). Keep your receipt.
  2. Bring your receipt to the gelato counter and hand your receipt to the server. 
  3. Indicate which flavor you would like. 

Vorrei un cono piccolo con caffè e cioccolato, per favore.
“I would like a small cone with coffee and chocolate , please.”

  1. Thank them and eat your gelato sitting or standing at the gelateria.

Good To Know: If you would like to try a flavor, you certainly can by asking posso assaggiare il cioccolato? but it’s not really good practice to try more than one. 

If you order your gelato first, you will likely be guided by the server to pay directly with her at the cash register right next to the gelato case. 

Helpful Vocabulary For Ordering Gelato

ItalianPronunciationEnglish Translation
Vorrei…Vohr-rehI would like…
un conooon coh-noha cone
una coppaoonah cohp-peh-taha cup
un gustooon goo-stohone flavor
due/tre/quattro gusti, tre gustidoo-eh/treh/qwaht-troh goo-steetwo/three/four flavors
Posso assaggiare…?poh-soh ahs-sahj-jah-reh eel …May I please try…
assaggiareahs-sahj-jah-rehtry
con un biscotto sopracohn oon bee-skoht-toh sohp-rahwith a cookie on top
Dove posso pagare?doh-veh poh-soh pah-gah-rehWhere do I pay?
Pago prima di scegliere i gusti?pah-go pree-mah dee shehl-yeh-reh ee goo-steeDo I pay before choosing my flavors?
Quanto costa?qwahn-toh coh-stahHow much does it cost?

How To Order An Aperitivo In Italian

top view of a table with three soft drinks served on a tray with various small cups filled with snacks and a sack of bread.
Our aperitivo at one of my favorite spots in Santo Spirito in Florence

Sitting down for an aperitivo is a daily affair in Italy. How you order your aperitivo won’t change, no matter the formula of the aperitivo.

First, establish if there is a table by asking:

Posso sedermi per un aperitivo?
“May I sit down for an aperitivo?”

The bar will then bring you a menu from which you can order any kind of cocktail, spritz, or non-alcoholic beverage.

Vorrei un spritz con Campari, per favore
“I would like a Campari Spritz, please”

Your waiter will either bring you a small plate of small nibbles and snacks to eat with your drink or you will be invited to serve yourself from the apericena buffet. 

Curious about the drinking age in Italy? Read The Legal Drinking Age In Italy – Advice From A Local.

Helpful Vocabulary For Ordering An Aperitivo In Italian

ItalianPronunciationEnglish Translation
DrinkdreenkCocktail
Analcolicoahn-ahl-cohl-ee-cohNon-alcoholic
Lista di vino/birra/cocktaillee-stah dee vee-noh/beer-rah/cohk-taylWine/beer/cocktail list
Vinovee-nohwine
Birrabeer-rahbeer
SpritzspreetzSpritz cocktail
Camparicahm-pah-reeCampari bitter
Aperolah-pehr-ohlAperol bitter
Negronineh-groh-neeNegroni cocktail
Stuzzicini stooz-zee-kee-neeSmall snacks/nibbles
Patatinepah-tah-tee-nehPotato Chips
Nocciolinenohch-choh-lee-nehNuts

How To Order Food In Italian At A Bakery

Hand holding up schiacciata in front of a bakery in Italy.
The schiacciata I always order in Montepulciano

A bakery or forno is a great place to pick up not only great bread, local specialties, desserts and cakes but also one of my top picks for ordering quick to-go lunches, sandwiches or snacks. 

If you have found a really popular bakery, you may have to take a number and wait for it to be called (similar to a deli in an Italian grocery store. 

Otherwise, just get in line or make your way to the counter and order what you like as follows:

Vorrei un pezzo di schiacciata per favore e una bustina di pizzette, per favore.
“I would like a piece of schiacciata and a small bag of baby pizzas, please.”

Posso ordinare un panino? Vorrei un panino con focaccia e prosciutto, per favore.
“May I order a sandwich? I would like a focaccia sandwich with prosciutto, please.”

Prendo un filone di questo pane e metà di quel pane nero, per favore.
“I would like one loaf of this bread here and half of that brown bread, please.”

Good To Know: When ordering from a bakery, most items are priced by weight so feel free to order half a loaf or just a couple servings of cake. They won’t slice the bread for you though. 

Helpful Vocabulary For Ordering Food At A Bakery

ItalianPronunciationEnglish Translation
Schiacciataskee-ahch-chah-tahTuscan flatbread
Focacciafoh-kahch-chahItalian flatbread
Pizza a tagliopeet-zah ah tahl-yohpizza by the slice
panepah-nehbread
Integraleeen-teh-grah-lehwhole wheat
Cerialicheh-ree-ah-lehmultigrain
Semiseh-meeseeds
Lievito madrelee-eh-vee-toh mah-drehsourdough
Cotto a legnacoht-toh ah lehn-yahbaked in a wood fire
Biscottibee-skoht-teecookies
Tortatohr-tahcake
Briochebree-ohshpastry
Tortinotohr-tee-nohlittle cake/savory quiche

How To Pay For The Bill In Italian

Hand next to leather folder for Ristorante Castello di Fighine.
Paying for my bill in San Casciano dei Bagni (Tuscany)

If you are sitting at a table, the waiter will usually come and bring you the bill. If you are at a family-run trattoria or osteria, you can also get up and go to the register and pay when you have finished.

If you are ready to pay, you can always ask your waiter for the bill by saying:

Posso avere il conto, per piacere?
“May I have the bill, please?

It’s not customary to leave a tip in Italy but if you are especially satisfied with your service, you can certainly leave the change or a small amount on the table for the server (cash only!). To read more about how to tip in Italy, read Tipping In Italy – When & How Much From A Local.

Useful Vocabulary For Paying The Bill In Italian

ItalianPronunciationEnglish Translation
Il contoeel cohn-tohthe bill
Dove posso pagare?doh-veh poh-soh pah-gah-rehWhere can I pay?
Posso pagare con la carta?poh-soh pah-gah-reh cohn lah cahr-tahMay I pay with a card?
Tenga il restotehn-gah eel reh-stohKeep the change
C’è un errore nel conto.cheh oon ehr-roh-reh nehl cohn-tohThere’s a mistake on the bill
Cos’è questo importo?cohs-eh kweh-stoh eem-pohr-tohWhat is this charge?

Other Helpful Phrases In Italian

Plate of roasted chicken at an outdoor table at a restaurant in Italy.

These are other useful Italian food phrases to help you order food in Italian no matter where you are! Some of these you may hear or some of these you might need to say.

ItalianPronunciationEnglish Translation
Avete una prenotazione?ah-veh-teh oon-ah pren-oh-tah-tzohn-ehDo you have a reservation?
Posso prenotare un tavolo (dentro/fuori)?pohs-soh preh-noh-tah-reh oon tah-voh-loh (den-troh/foo-oh-ree)May I book a table (indoors/outdoors)?
Non abbiamo una prenotazionenohn ahb-bee-ah-moh oon-ah pren-oh-tah-tzohn-ehWe don’t have a reservation.
A che ora?ah keh ohr-ahAt what time?
Quanti siete?kwahn-tee see-eh-tehFor how many guests?
Cosa mi consiglia?coh-sah mee cohn-seel-yahWhat do you recommend?
Cos’è la specialità della zona?coh-seh lah speh-shee-ahl-ee-tah dehl-lah zoh-nahWhat is the local specialty?
Non ho ordinato questo.nohn oh or-dee-nah-toh kweh-stohI didn’t order this.
Lista dei vinilee-stah deh vee-neeWine list
Sono allergico/a a…soh-noh ahl-lehr-jee-koh/kahI’m allergic to…
Sono vegano/a.soh-noh veh-gah-noh/nahI am vegan
Sono vegetariano/a.soh-noh veh-jeh-tah-ree-ah-noh/nahI am vegetarian
Non posso mangiare i latticini.nohn pohs-soh mahn-jahr-eh ee lah-tee-chee-neeI can’t eat dairy.
Non posso mangiare glutine.nohn pohs-soh mahn-jahr-eh gloo-tee-nehI can’t eat gluten.
Possono entrare i cani?pohs-son-oh ehn-trahr-eh ee cah-neeAre dogs welcome?
Un altro/aoon ahl-troh/trahAnother
Da condivideredah cohn-dee-vee-deh-rehto share
Era buonissimo!ehr-ah bwoh-nees-see-mohIt was delicious!
Complimenti!cohm-plee-mehn-teeCompliments (to the chef)!
Parla Inglese?pahr-lah een-gleh-zehDo you speak English?
Non parlo Italianonohn pahr-loh ee-tahl-ee-ah-nohI don’t speak Italian
Non ho capitonohn oh cah-pee-tohI don’t understand
Come si dice…in Italiano?coh-meh see dee-cheh …een ee-tahl-ee-ah-nohHow do you say…in Italian?
Dov’è il bagno?doh-veh eel bahn-yohWhere is the restroom?

Useful Italian Food Vocabulary

Outdoor dining terrace with clear, glass 'walls' so you can see the view of the Tuscan countryside. There are tables set with white tablecloths and colorful glasses.

When deciphering an Italian menu, these common words may help you better understand what is being offered. Most menus in Italy will have an English translation but if you are in a very rural area, especially in Sardinia, Sicily and in Southern Italy, they may not.

ItalianPronunciationEnglish Translation
Pastapah-stahpasta
Panepah-nehbread
Risoree-sohrice
Zuppa/Minestrazoop-pah/mee-neh-strahsoup
Carnecahr-nehmeat
Pollopohl-lohchicken
Maialemaiy-ah-lehpork
Vitellovee-tehl-lohveal
Tacchinotahk-kee-nohturkey
Agnelloahn-yehl-lohlamb
Cinghialecheen-gee-ah-lehwild boar
Manzomahn-zohbeef
Ben cotto/medio/al sangueben coht-toh/meh-dee-oh/ahl sahn-gwehcooked well/medium/rare
Pescepeh-shehfish
Formaggiofohr-mahj-johcheese
Le uovaleh oo-oh-vaheggs
Sformatosfohr-mah-tohsavory flan
Carpacciocahr-pahch-chohraw beef (or sometimes fish)
Verduravehr-door-ahvegetable
Legumileh-goo-melegumes
Fagiolifah-joh-leebeans
Lattelaht-tehmilk
Insalataeen-sah-lah-tahsalad
Paninopah-nee-nohsandwich
Sugo/Salsasoo-goh/sahl-sahsauce
Affettati ahf-feht-tah-teecured meat
Oliooh-lee-ohoil
Acetoah-cheh-tohvinegar
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My Top Tips To Order Food In Italy

close up of white dish with tagliatelle with zucchini on a table with a yellow paper mat with bread in background on small white plate and glasses with water in background at a table

After countless embarrassing experiences in Italy, I have compiled a list of the most useful information to help ordering food in Italian go as smoothly as possible. But don’t worry if you make a mistake. That is how you learn and improve your Italian!

  • There is no concept of tap water in Italy. The waiter will always ask if you want sparkling or plain water, which you can then order by the bottle. 
  • Don’t ask for doggy bags unless it’s pizza.
  • Restaurants usually close in the afternoon for a rest period between 3:30 and 7:00 meaning, you cannot eat meals between these hours. If you are hungry, order food in Italian from a bar, bakery or pizza stand. 
  • Stick to espresso after your meal, not a cappuccino.
  • Tipping is not required.
  • You should not be charged a “service fee” on your bill. If you are, it must be listed on the menu or it’s illegal!
  • At a nice restaurant, you are generally expected to order two courses but not all of them (but you can!).
  • Sharing dishes isn’t typical in Italy unless it’s a mixed appetizer or charcuterie or cheese board.
  • Kids’ menus are not common but most places can always make pasta al pomodoro (tomato pasta) or pasta in bianco (pasta with butter and cheese). 
  • Eggs are a second course, not eaten for breakfast in Italy (unless you are at a hotel or a place serving American-style breakfast). If you see them on a menu, they will come after the first course.