Eating out in Italy is not as simple as
you may think. Italian dinners are meant to be long, relaxing, and
a time to socialize. You will find yourself feasting on culturally
perfected foods while being purposely ignored by your waiter until
a sufficient time has passed, not because they are being rude, but
because that is the Italian way. Here are a few things you should
know when it comes to Italians and food…
Types of Eateries
Knowing the differences
between different types of eateries is important when deciding what
kind of meal you want, how much you want to spend and want
type of atmosphere you are hoping to enjoy.
If you head into a bar in Rome and expect to find
any sort of alcohol, not only are you violating your Student Code
of Conduct but you’re also in for a shock. In Italy, bars are
places where you can go for a quick snack or bite, such as a
coffee, pastry or a small sandwich. The interiors are usually
outfitted with long counters and high tables where you can stand
and enjoy your food and drink.
If you’re looking for something sweet and need a
break from gelato, head to a local bakery, also known as a
pasticceria. Depending on where you are in Italy, many of the
pastries will change from region to region, so be sure to stop in a
pasticceria in every region you visit! Tiramisu is a local Roman
As the name hints, pizzerias specialize in serving
pizza, and solely pizza, rarely offering any other dishes. When
eating at a pizzeria, it’s important to note that you typically
don’t order one pizza for the table as is common in the U.S.,
instead, everyone orders their own personal size pizza.
Pizza a Taglio (Pizza
If you are looking for a quick lunch and don’t have
time to sit, heading to a Pizza Rustica, as it’s referred to in
Rome is your best bet. Rather than sitting down to eat, you choose
and order your pizza from the pre-cooked selection that is
displayed behind the counter. You will then request to have your
pizza cut to size and heated for you to consume standing up at a
If you are looking for a classic Italian meal but
don’t have too much to spend, Trattorias are a great option.
Trattorias are small family-run restaurants that specialize in
serving traditional food from their local region. The best
places to find Trattorias are down side streets or away from
major tourist attractions.
Ristorantes are at the top of the price list for
dining options. They typically offer classic Italian dishes or
specialize in more modern twists on traditional meals. Dining at
ristorantes should be reserved for special occasions or when your
family is in town and you know they’ll pick up the tab!
Things you Should Know before
- Never go to a sit down dinner if you are in a rush
- Always ask for the check, it will never come voluntarily
- It’s pronounced, “Bru ske ta”, not “Bru shet a”
The only time you should ever leave a tip is if the
service you received was absolutely outstanding and you wanted to
leave a little extra something for your server. The reason for no
tipping in Italy is due to the fact that servers are already paid
much higher than servers are here in the United States. If you are
inclined to leave a tip because of great service, you should only
leave €1 per person and not work off of a percentage like we do
here in the U.S.
Whenever bread is brought to your table, don’t
expect it to be free. Most, if not all establishments will charge
you for any bread that they bring to your table, even if you don’t
eat it. If bread is brought to your table, just let the waiter know
that you don’t want it and they will simply take it away.