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How to order food, the Italian way…

By February 28, 2012 Travel Advice No Comments
Local Italian food

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!

Family run restaurant

Family run restaurant

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!

What our clients have to say

What a unique experience this was for my husband and I and a group of friends ( 5 other couples). I felt like we were going back in time and living the life that a well to do 19th century family would have while they were sojourning down the Nile River. The decor of the living spaces on the second level upstairs on the upper deck looked like pieces you would see in a palace of royalty. The bedrooms on the first level that had windows that opened up just above the water level were spacious and comfortable. The bed was comfy as can be!!
The staff on the boat, and there were many, were so very attentive and tried their hardest to meet our every need and also surprised us with daily unexpected niceties and full on entertainment. The food was all homemade and delicious. Our chef was quite talented and the meals were never repeated( except for breakfast which was made to order eggs and an assortment of breads/muffins/croissants and fruit etc. Coffee and tea always available.
The tours that were scheduled for us were so well run and our Egyptologist, Ahmed , was obtaining his Ph.D in Egyptology and was so very interesting and knowledgeable. We had the opportunity to go on a hot air balloon ride and also a trip to Abu Simbel which were both amazing and unforgettable. After every tour we arrived back on the boat and were greeted by Tito and Adam with specialty cold lovely drinks and cold lemon scented wet towels to refresh ourselves with.
Tito took us shopping in the Luxor Market for a couple of hours the day before we left. He helped us negotiate the goods we purchased which was a huge help.
Lastly I have to mention our Dahabiya Cruise Captain, Mahmoud . This guy was amazing! He made sure we had everything we needed and kept us entertained with his humour and incredible dancing skills. Our group learned so much about the Egyptian culture from him during our dinner conversations.
Our group all agreed that we would miss these wonderful, thoughtful people that we spent a week with and hope they all knew how much we appreciated each one of them.

Joan Mancini
Travel date Sept 2021

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