Restaurants, Bars, and Aperitivo in Italy: Street Smart Italian words, food secrets and the social beauty of travelling to Italy

Andrea Zanon Confidente
4 min readFeb 6, 2024

Embark on a journey to explore Italy like a local, diving into the vibrant world of food, restaurants, snacks, and aperitivos. Join me as I share with you some useful street-smart words, cultural intricacies, and hidden gems that will enrich your travel experience in my homeland.

Italian Lunch/Dinner Courses Unveiled: If you’re accustomed to American dining, where the main dish and sides arrive together, be prepared for a different experience in Italy as people take their time when eating. No worries though, Italian restaurant are very flexible and they will adjust to the guests needs. When dining with children, inform your waiter (Cameriere) that you’d like everything to come at the same time — “TUTTO INSIEME” in order to avoid long waits.

Italian Lunch and Dinner Courses/Items:

  • Antipasti (appetizers)
  • Antipasti misti (mixed appetizers, including salami, prosciutto, and cheese)
  • Primi Piatti (first courses — pasta, gnocchi or risotto are good example)
  • Secondi Piatti (second courses — typically meat, fish or seafood)
  • Insalatone (Large salad-this has become a good alternative to a Primo or Secondo Piatto)
  • Contorni (side dishes which are normally veggies)
  • Dolci (desserts)
  • Caffe (post-dinner espresso)
  • Digestivi (after-dinner liqueurs)
  • Sgroppino (this is a lemon gelato, prosecco and vodka sorbet and it is more common in the North East of Italy)

Useful Expressions or Rules:

  • “Tutto insieme” — All at the same time referred to the food delivery
  • “Il conto per favore” — The bill please
  • “Paghiamo in contanti” — We pay in cash
  • “Senza Fatture” — No invoice which if you are in a restaurant, it will signal that you don’t need an invoice/receipt and often will result in a discount
  • “Vino della casa per favore” — House wine, please
  • “1 litro” — 1 liter, usually served in a…

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Andrea Zanon Confidente

International sustainable development consultant and empowerment specialist