The Essential Italian Food Phrases For Ordering Food and Wine in Italian

The Essential Italian Food Phrases For Ordering Food and Wine in Italian

Now that you’re going to Italy, as any self-respecting Italian foodie should, it’s time to start thinking about the little details, such as how to flag down a taxi, convert your currency, and place an order for food in Italian. These suggestions, in addition to the other crucial information presented here, on Italy and its cuisine, are necessary!

If you are taking part in a group trip, the odds are that the majority of these arrangements will be made for you. However, if you plan on travelling on your own, even if it’s only for a portion of your trip, familiarising yourself with these aspects of travel can make your vacation that much more pleasurable.

This is particularly true with regard to gastronomic pursuits like food and wine. This essay will come in useful for you as you travel around Italy in pursuit of authentic Italian cuisine.

When eating, there are etiquette expectations that must be met, regardless matter whether you are at a Michelin-starred establishment or a hole-in-the-wall eatery on the street. When placing a meal order, it goes without saying that employing polite language helps to alleviate even the worst pronunciation or grammar, but at least they know you’re trying. Even if you don’t succeed, at least they’ll know you’re trying.

The use of fundamental Italian phrases and words such as “Please,” “Thank You,” and “You’re Welcome” may take you a long way in the language. However, you will also need to acquire certain important Italian food words in order to be able to order meals in Italian, inquire about the dish, and converse amiably with your server.

But before we get into that, let’s quickly go over the many types of eateries that can be found in Italy, as well as the distinctions between them, so that you can tell a trattoria from an osteria.


Restaurants, Trattorias, And Osterias

In Italy, the majority of eating establishments fall into one of three categories: restaurants, trattorias, and osterias. There are also enotecas and bars that serve Italian beverages and cocktails, but it is a subject for a different discussion.

Restaurants are the most stuffy of the three dining options, and they often charge the highest prices. A trattoria is a kind of eatery that is less formal than a restaurant and often does not offer as many food options as a restaurant does. The atmosphere of an osteria is the most relaxed of the three, and its menu will be the least extensive.

In modern-day Italy, however, there are osterias that are very similar to trattorias and there are also trattorias that are quite similar to osterias. We have eaten some meals that did not live up to our expectations in some really excellent restaurants, and we have had other dinners that were just fantastic in trattorias and osterias.

You’ll be able to recognise the difference between the three in no time at all and choose your favourites as you make your way around the eating scene in any location you’re currently vacationing in.


Traditional Italian Meal Courses

Even ordering street food from a vendor who does not speak English can be intimidating enough to drive customers away to another stand where they can communicate in English. The menus in Italian restaurants and cafes can be difficult to decipher at first, especially for those who are not familiar with Italian cuisine.

This waiter in Italy provided me with one of the most insightful comments I’ve ever received on Italian cuisine when he made the following remark. It shed light on the manner in which Italians consume their food and demonstrated that the ordering procedure need not be so perplexing.

The sequence of the courses is deeply ingrained in the culture of Italy. It is observed not just in restaurants but also in private homes across Italy. However, here’s the thing: just because the menu lists a variety of courses does not imply that you are required to order all of them!

When we went to Italy for the first time, we were under the impression that it was inappropriate or unpleasant to not order according to the menu. The waiter laughed at us and suggested that we must be really hungry. After that, though, he continued by saying, “it’s only a recommendation – order anything you like.” That must have been a relief! ๐Ÿ™‚

Aperitivo is the name given to a kind of alcoholic beverage that is traditionally consumed in Italy before meals. These drinks are normally not very potent and are intended to prepare both the palate and the stomach for the meal. Aperitivo beverages such as Prosecco, Negroni, Aperol Spritz, and Vermouth are the ones that are most often provided.

Antipasto is just another word for appetisers, and it’s just what the name suggests. Typically, salads, charcuterie or an Italian cheese plate, and occasionally a smaller amount of whatever will be presented in the following two courses.

Primo is the name for the first course, which might be a soup or stew (like tortellini in brodo), a meal made with pasta, or a dish made with rice (like risotto). This is the part of the meal when the starchy carbohydrates are offered.

Secondo โ€” All right, this one shouldn’t be too hard to figure out. The second meal consists of different kinds of meat or fish prepared in a variety of ways. Eating here is not at all like dining in the United States. When you place an order at the Secondo, you will get exactly what you have requested, which is either a piece of meat or fish on a plate, but there will be no sides of veggies.

Contorni โ€” Are you a Sides person like me? These are the kinds of side dishes you’re searching for; they often include vegetables that have been roasted or grilled, and occasionally they involve vegetables that have been steamed. Pasta will never be served in the side dish capacity at any restaurant. Since we are in Italy, the first meal consists of a huge plate of pasta.

Dolci means “sweet” in Italian, and it refers to the dessert course of a meal. These items may be found on menus organised under a variety of different dessert categories. The term “torte” often refers to cakes, although it may also refer to pies and tarts. Desserts served in a spoon are what “Dolci al Cucchiao” literally translates to in English.

Desserts such as tiramisu and panna cotta will be included in this portion of the menu. Gelati is the most popular kind of ice cream in Italy. There may also be semifreddo, which translates as “half frozen,” on the list. These are rich sweets that are partly frozen and have a creamy consistency, similar to that of mousse. They often have a drizzle of fruit or chocolate sauce on top.

Coffee is a topic that calls for some further commentary. Coffee is traditionally served either before or after dessert in the United States. On the contrary, in Italy. Coffee is not offered until after the conclusion of the course consisting of desserts. If you ask for your coffee to be served with dessert, you will either be given the stink eye or your coffee won’t come up until all of the dessert dishes have been cleaned.

TIP FOR COFFEE There is a great deal of information available on the coffee culture of Italy. To provide one example, whereas people in the United States like cappuccino at any time of the day, people in Italy often consume it in the morning. If you order a cappuccino after around 11:00 in the morning, people will immediately assume that you are a tourist.

Additionally, this category includes beverages such as coffee lattes. Don’t do it! If you really want to drink anything with milk, you should have a macchiato instead, since it just has a little bit of milk in it.

Why do you ask? In Italy, milk is seldom drunk after lunch or dinner because of the widespread belief that drinking it after these meals would make digestion more difficult. This is a widespread misconception that is becoming increasingly widespread.

Digestivo are alcoholic beverages that are served in place of milk when you place an order. The Italian people think that eating a digestive after a meal aids digestion, and there are many different types of digestive to choose from. Some of these beverages have the potential to have a bitter taste, such as email, which is a grape brandy that has been flavoured with botanicals or spices and then lightly sweetened with sugar syrup.

In the southern region of Italy, limoncello is considered to be the most traditional digestive. Because we like it so much, we came up with our very own recipe for Italian limoncello and have been producing it in our own kitchen for many years. Under the Distillati heading, you’ll find listings for whiskey, rum, grappa, and cognac.


You should get a pocket-sized Italian phrasebook before you leave the house and bring it with you. You may utilise it, or you may not. However, it is something good to read while waiting for the train or when you are eating supper by yourself. Plus, if a local notice that you are attempting to learn their language, having a phrasebook in your hand is a great way to start a discussion with them!

To get you started, just master a few easy phrases:

Best wishes for the day

Greetings according to the time of day

Buongiorno means “good morning” or “good day” in Italian.

Buonasera, which literally translates to “good afternoon” or “good evening”

Buona Notte, or good night in Italian

Greetings and farewells – Ciao, ciao, ciao (informal), which literally translates to “goodbye”

Please – Spanish: por favour

Thank you – Grazie

I’m glad that was helpful. – Prego

Sorry – Mi dispiace

Good – Bene

Mi scusi means “I am sorry,” and “Permission” means “pass” when you are going in front of someone.



If you are making a reservation, are met by a maรฎtre d, or are a member of the waiting staff, one of the first things you should do is inquire as to whether or not they speak English.

In regions frequented by tourists, most people will speak sufficient English to assist you. But just in caseโ€ฆโ€ฆ

Do you communicate in English? – Parla Inglese?

I don’t speak Italian. – Non-parlo Italiano

I don’t understand Italian – Non capisco l’italiano

How do you say _ in Italian? – Come si dice _ in Italiano?

Where are the restrooms located? – Dove sono I bagni?

Making A Dinner Reservation In Italy

How late do you stay open? โ€” Quanto tardi sei aperto?

When exactly do you stop taking orders? โ€” A che ora smetti di servire?

I’d like to make a reservation for a table at (time) o’clock for (number of people at the party). โ€” Vorrei riservare un tavolo per le (number) alle (time – 7, 8, 9, etc.).

Listen for one of these things if the person taking your reservation does not speak English:

Non-Abbiamo tavoli. We do not own any tables.

รˆ al completo. โ€” We have no more availability.

Special Needs / Accessibility

Do you have access for those who use wheelchairs? โ€” Hai accesso per disabili?

Is the restaurant accessible to those who use wheelchairs? โ€” ร‰ il ristorante adatto ai disabili?

Are you able to accommodate a person using a wheelchair? โ€” Puoi ospitare una sedia a rotelle?

Are the restrooms accessible to those who use wheelchairs? โ€” Sono I servizi igienici per disabili?

When You Arrive

I have made a reservation for a table. My name is (name). โ€” Ho riservato un Tavolo. We did not make a reservation for (your name), or Sono (your name). โ€” Non abbiamo riservato un tavolo.

Have you had a table for (number) available? โ€” Ha un tavolo per (number)?

How much longer will this wait be? โ€” Quanto dura l’attesa?


Now that the preliminary business has been taken care of, you are free to take a seat. You will most likely be presented with a menu, however in the event that you need to inquire about one:

Could you kindly show us the menu, please? โ€” Possiamo vedere il menu, per favore?

Is there a menu available in English? โ€” Hai un menu Inglese?

Water And Wine

In Italy (and many other nations as well, although not as much in the US), water may either arrive with gas or without gas. This is not the case in the United States. Waiters in South America may simply ask you, “Con or Sin?” which translates as “with or without.” Naturale is the name given to calm water in the Italian language.

Acqua con gas is sometimes known as sparkling water.

Still water โ€” Acqua naturale.

Could you kindly get us some water? โ€” Possiamo avere acqua (con gas, naturale) per favore?

The Wine List

Since you are now seated at an Italian restaurant in Italy, it seems inconceivable that you will not be presented with a wine selection. But if for any reason it is overlookedโ€ฆ.

Please provide the wine list. โ€” La lista del vino, per favore.

Can you tell me about a decent wine? โ€” Che cos’รจ un buon vino?

Which wine would you suggest I try? โ€” Che vino mi consigliate?

What makes an excellent wine from this region? โ€” Che cos’รจ un buon vino locale?

I’d like to have a glass of either red or white wine. โ€” Please. Prendo un bicchiere di vino rossa/ blanco.

A quarter or half litre of the wine that is housed here. โ€” Un quartino/mezzo litro di vino della house.

I’d like a beer, please. โ€” Vorrei una birra, per favore.

The Menu And Ordering

Menu vocabulary:

Pollo, Spanish for chicken

Pork โ€” Maiale

Beef โ€” Manzo

Salad โ€” Insalata

Soup โ€” La minestra

Salt and Pepper โ€” Sale e pepe

Napkin โ€” Tovagliolo

Spoon / Fork / Knife / Plate / Glass / Wineglass โ€” Cucchiaio / Forchetta / Coltello / Piatto / Bicchiere / Bicchiere da Vino

Rare, medium rare, medium, well done โ€” Raro, medio raro, medium, ben fatto

Paying The Bill


When booking your reservation or after you are there, make sure to find out what forms of payment are accepted. Do not wait until the conclusion of your dinner to ask for the check; this will help you avoid an embarrassing situation.

In the event that you don’t notice credit card stickers posted on the door or window of the restaurant’s entry, BE SURE TO INQUIRE! Even if there is a sticker on the card, our previous experiences have taught us that the restaurant may not take that specific card anymore.

Is the use of a credit card an option for payment? โ€” Posso pagare con una carta di credito?

Which kind of credit cards are accepted here? โ€” Quali carte di credito accetti?

The bill, if it’s possible. โ€” Il conto, per favore. – or – Il conto, prego.

Is the cost of the service reflected in the total price? โ€” Il servizio รจ incluso nel conto?

For what purpose is this sum being paid? โ€” A cosa servi questo importo?

There’s a mistake in the bill. โ€” C’รจ un errore nel conto.

Hold on to the alteration. โ€” Tenga il resto.

This collection of Italian food expressions is by no means complete; it just includes a few examples. Which of the sentences that you have used should we incorporate?

Italy is similar to many other nations in that distinct regions have their own unique dialects and colloquial expressions. Therefore, depending on where you are going, it is possible that these sentences may not be understood entirely, but they will catch the spirit of what you are saying. And it shouldn’t discourage you from giving it a go.

Additionally, it is a fun opportunity to immerse oneself a bit deeper into the culture, which is always a positive thing to do, and it is a nice way to pass the time. People you are attempting to interact with will grin at you and be more than eager to assist you with your pronunciation and vocabulary. Just ask. When travelling at a leisurely pace, this goes a very long way!

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