Now this may seem like a bit of a silly post but believe me ordering food in Italy is not as simple as it would seem.
The main issue is how the menu is layed out. Every menu has a antipasta, primi course, secondi course and then a desert. The first two are normally priced the same, and the ‘second’ is more expensive.
Firstly lets break down the jargon:
Anti-pasta – Cold meat, cheese, bread and olives.
Primi – Pasta dishes
Secondi – Meat dishes. These really are only meat dishes. There are no accompaniments. None. Just meat!
Now comes the time for ordering. Don’t be afraid to mix and match the dishes (this is what the locals do) and to share a dish if there are two of you, or even have them all at the same time. It’s all very flexible. So rather then have the anti-pasta followed by the primi and then finish with the secondi. Why not share and anti-pasta, have a primi each and then finish by sharing a secondi (with a couple of sides). Or what about sharing an anti-pasta, one person has a primi, the other has a secondi (with sides) and then both finish with a desert. Or you could go really crazy and not have an anti-pasta at all!
Also don’t be afraid to ask about the menu and the dishes. This is what locals do and it’s is almost expected.
When it comes to the wine the Italians are way ahead. So don’t try and muddle through a list of local wines that you’ve not heard of. Instead order a half litre of “Vino della casa” (house wine). This stored in massive vats and not bottles. This means that it is normally half the price of a bottle (one place we went to a half litre was 4 Euros) and is always really tasty. In fact I have yet to have a bad wine in an Italian restaurant. To drink like a true Italian always ask for a bottle of water as well.
When it comes to beer again always ask for draft. It’s cheaper and tasty.
If you are in a bar of coffee shop and on a budget always sit at the bar to get a better price.
Many cafes in stations and airports have a strange operating system. You go to the first till to pay for everything before you have got your coffee or food.You then take your receipt to the coffee bar to get your coffee and then over to the pizza stand to get your pizza and then over to the sandwich counter to get your sandwich. It’s a strange and inefficient way work working but when in Rome…..
What you need to do is scout out what you want first (even make a note of it) and then go pay. Expect the till person to be short and impatient but just ignore it, if your confused it’s the silly systems fault not yours!
Finally tipping, only tip if you think they deserve it. It’s not expected. Some places add on a cover charge or service charge so make sure you check your bill before you leave a tip.
Thanks for reading, we hope it helps and if you have any tips of your own then please let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to share this!