The words and phrases you need to know to decipher Italian restaurant menus

Sep 08, 2017 487

BY: Catherine Edwards

Italian might be known as the language of love but - far more importantly - it's also the language of food.If you're spending time in Italy, learning the words that relate to eating and drinking should be top of your to-do list. And if you're looking for an authentic Italian foodie experience, your best bet is to steer clear of chequered tablecloths, ostentatious signage, and menus with English translations or pictures. That might be a daunting prospect, particularly as Italians have plenty of unwritten rules when it comes to food, but with our guide you should be able to navigate restaurant menus with ease.

Ristorante, trattoria, osteria | Restaurant

In your dictionary, these terms might all share an English translation, but there's an important difference. A ristorante is the most formal and upmarket of the three with waiter service, while a trattoria is less formal, usually family-run and slightly cheaper, and an osteria - or hostaria or taverna - is the budget option. Osterias were once local watering holes: they served only wine and you'd bring along your own food. This is still the case in a very few places, such as the historic Osteria del Sole in Bologna, but nowadays most will offer a pared-down menu made up of local specialties.

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