Welcome to Destination ItalyTravel Tips - Food

Dining Tips:

  • It is best to drink bottled water in Italy as the tap water can sometimes be heavily chlorinated.

  • After you have finished your meal, don't just wait for the check, you will have to ask for it.

  • Decent, sit-down restaurants will usually expect one to order at least two courses, not including dessert.

  • Spaghetti should be eaten with a fork rolled against the dish, not by cutting it up into little pieces - this is considered bad manners.

  • Italians will usually take their food as it is listed, seldom making special requests.

Food Dictionary:

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Al Dente: A phrase to describe the perfectly cooked pasta
Aglio: Garlic
Agnello: Lamb
Amaro: Herb liqueur served in espresso, and/or in desserts
Ananas: Pineapple
Anice: Clear Italian cordial liqueur made from the anis seed, tastes like black liquorice, similar to sambuca, often used in desserts or with coffee
Anguria: Watermelon
Antipasto: Appetizers
Aperitivo: Aperitif, liqueur
Arancino: Rice balls, often with a centre of veal, prosciutto, cheese, peas and/or vegetables
Aranciata: Orange drink, orange soda
Arrosto: Beef roast



Baccalà: Stockfish, dried salted cod
Birra: Beer
Biscotti: Cookies used for dipping in coffee/espresso
Bistecca: Steak
Bolognese: An Italian meat sauce often made with Wine and Tomatoes. The sauce originates from the city of Italy known as Bologna
Bocconcini: Mozzarella cheese formed in small round balls
Broccoli: Vegetable similar to spinach
Bruschetta: Toasted bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil, sometimes with the addition of tomatoes or other toppings



Carbonara: A traditional Roman sauce consisting of Garlic, eggs, and bacon served over pasta
Carciofi: Artichoke
Caffè: Coffee Espresso
Calamari: Squid
Cappuccino: Espresso coffee served with steamed milk
Cannoli: An authentic Sicilian pastry, tubular with sweet cream filling
Capra: Meat from the goat
Caprese Insalata: mozzarella and tomato salad with basil
Capretto: Young goat known as a kid
Carpaccio: thin-sliced raw beef with dressing (may sometimes be other meat as well)
Cassatta: Soft cake with cream filling
Casseruola: Saucepan
Cena: Lunch or a large supper
Chianti: Dry Red wine from the Toscana region (Tuscany)
Condimenti: Condiments and/or toppings
Cozze: Mussels (shellfish)
Croquet: Fried potato dumplings


Espresso: Strong black coffee made with pressurized steam



Fava: Broad bean grown in Sicily
Farina: White flour
Filetto: Fillet
Focaccia: Flat bread seasoned with olive oil, pine nuts, basil, etc. Similar to pizza without the sauce or cheese
Fragolini: Strawberry
Frascati: Dry White wine from the region of Rome
Frittata: Frittata is an open faced Italian omelette
Formaggio: Cheese of any kind
Funghi: Mushrooms



Gamberi: Shrimp
Gelato: Italian Ice Cream
Gorgonzola: Italian blue cheese
Grappa: Very strong "digestive" spirit made from the grape seeds, stems and skins
Granita: Flavoured "slushy" ice served on hot days for breakfast



Insalata: Salad
Italiana: Cooked Italian Style (Calabrese if it's Calabrian-Style)


Latte: Milk
Lasagna: Lasagne
Limoncello: Cordial Spirit yellow in colour and tastes like lemons



Maccheroni: Kind of Pasta
Marinara: Marinara is a traditional Italian vegetable sauce made with Tomatoes, onions, Garlic, and Olive oil
Margherita: Basic pizza made with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella
Marsala: Sweet dark white wine from the Marsala region of Sicily
Martini: Italian brand of Vermouth
Melenzane: Eggplant, aubergine
Mortadella: Mortadella is a finely hashed/ground heat-cured pork sausage with lard pieces
Mozzarella: Mild Italian cheese, white, melts well, stringy, commonly used on pizzas and in lasagne



Naturale: Natural, most often referring to spring water, without the carbonation
Nocciola: Hazelnut, usually a flavour of ice cream or candy
Noce: Walnut



Olio di Oliva: Olive Oil
Olive: Olives
Origano: Oregano - herb
Ostriche: Oysters



Pane: Bread
Pancetta: Pancetta is Italian bacon made from the belly of the pig that is salted (cured) rather than smoked
Pasta Frolla: Short pastry used in baking both sweet and savoury dishes
Pecorino: A grating cheese
Pesce: Fish
Pesce Spada: Swordfish
Pesto: It is a paste or sauce made from basil, pine nuts and olive oil, usually served over crackers or breads, but can be over pasta as well
Piccante: Spicy
Pinoli: Nuts from the pine tree, used in pesto
Pollo: Chicken
Pomodoro: Tomatoes
Porchetta: Italian Bacon, usually round, uncooked, can be sliced thin or thick
Porcini: Exotic small Italian mushrooms
Prezzemolo: Parsley
Prosciutto: Italian ham, can be served in salads or with cooking
Provolone: Sharp, aged, white Italian cheese
Polpo: Octopus



Ravioli: Two thin, flat, squares of pasta with a filling in between with everything from ricotta cheese, to meat to lobster, etc
Ricotta: Italian cheese with a consistency similar to cottage cheese, most commonly used in manicotti, ravioli and lasagne
Risotto: Italian rice



Salvia: Sage
Salumi: Italian Dry Salami
Sambuca: A clear Italian cordial that tastes like black liquorice, very similar to anisette, commonly used in desserts or with coffee
Sarde: Sardines
Scallopine: Very thin slices of chicken or fish
Siciliana: Cooked Sicilian Style
Soffritto: A base for soups made from vegetables: celery, onion and carrot that is lightly fried in olive oil
Soppressata: Salami-type cured meat
Spumoni: 3 flavours of ice cream (vanilla, chocolate and strawberry)
Strega: Liquor



Taralli: Italian version of hard pretzels made with fennel seeds instead of salt
Tartufo: Italian ice cream in chocolate shell
Tonno: Tuna
Torrone: Usually an ice cream made with honey and nuts
Tortellini: Rolled and filled pasta
Trattoria: An informal place to have lunch


Vino: Wine
Vitello: Veal
Vongole: Clams (shellfish)



Zeppole: Small round pieces of fried pizza dough
Zucchero: Sugar
Zuppa: Soup

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