Italian Restaurant Vocabulary: Essential Italian Words and Phrases for Dining Out


When you’re in Italy, a huge part of your trip (or should we say, most of it?) would be spent enjoying food! Here in this article, we’ll help you do just that by giving you a list of Italian restaurant vocabulary.

Learn Italian words and phrases that you can use when you’re dining out--from what to say as soon as you get in until the moment you finish your food.

Italian restaurant vocabulary list

Italian Phrases when Entering a Restaurant

When you visit any dining establishment, always start with greetings. You can say, buongiorno (good day) or buonasera (good evening) as you enter the restaurant. When you leave, say grazie (thanks) and arrivederci (goodbye). Like anywhere else in the world, small polite greetings make a huge difference.

See also: Basic Italian Greetings

Here are other useful phrases you need in restaurants.

Ha/avete un tavolo per due?Do you have a table for two?
Potrei vedere il menù?May I see the menu?

How to order food in Italian

Once you’re seated and already in possession of a menu, the waiter (il cameriere) or the waitress (la cameriera) would approach your table to ask you any of the following:

Siete pronti per ordinare?Are you ready to order?
Cosa desidera?What would you like?
Cosa prende Lei?What will you have?
Cosa prendete voi?What will you all have?
Cosa desidera Lei?What would you like?
Cosa desiderate voi?What would you all like?
Cosa desidera mangiare?What would you like to eat?
Ha già deciso?Have you decided already?
Vuole l'antipasto?Would you like an appetizer?

How to ask for food recommendations in Italian

When you hear either of those questions, you can throw the question back to the waiter or waitress by asking for recommendations or what their daily specials are. Here’s what to say:

Cosa raccomanda?What do you recommend?
Cosa mi può raccomandare?What can you recommend to me?
Cosa ci consiglia?What would you recommend for us?
Può consigliarmi dei piatti tipici della regione?Could you recommend some traditional regional dishes?
C'è un menù (fisso)?Do you have a (set) menu?
Qual è la specialità del giorno?What is the daily special?
Qual è la zuppa del giorno?What is the soup of the day?
quali sono le specialità della casa?What are your specialities?

Or you can leave everything to the server’s hands by asking him or her to choose for you!

Faccia Lei, per favore!

You choose, please!

When you’re finally ready to order, simply say:

Lo prendo…I’ll take…
Vorrei …I would like…

Italian Food and Drinks Vocabulary

Now let’s take a look at some of the basic terms you will see in an Italian menu.

il vitelloveal
il manzobeef
il pollochicken
la carne di cervovenison
il conigliorabbit
il tacchinoturkey
le polpettemeatballs
la bisteccasteak
la trippatripe
la cotolettacutlet
il pescefish
il baccalàcod (dried)
la spigolasea bass
il pesce spadaswordfish
i gamberiprawns
acciughe / alicianchovies
i calamarisquid
le cozzemussels
il polpooctopus
il granchiocrab
i gamberiprawn
i gamberettishrimp
il risorice
la pastapasta
la verduravegetables
le patatepotatoes
La zuppasoup
la salsa / Il sugosauce
il condimentocondiment
le bevandedrinks / beverages
il vino...wine
... rossored wine
...biancowhite wine
... rosérose wine
vivacerich, spicy, lively
l'acqua mineralemineral water
l'acqua naturalestill water
l'acqua leggermente gassataslightly sparkling
l'acqua frizzante / gassatasparkling water / carbonated water
la birrabeer
il succojuice
Il succo di fruttafruit juice

Special dietary restrictions/ preferences

If you happen to have some dietary restrictions and cannot enjoy the wide variety of flavors of an Italian culinary extravaganza, you may inform the waiter or waitress beforehand. See some example phrases you could use below.

Sono vegano/vegana.I’m vegan.
Sono vegetariano/
I’m vegetarian.
Sono celiaco/aI have celiac disease.
Seguo una dieta
senza glutine.
I follow a gluten-free diet.
Sono intollerante
al lattosio.
I’m lactose intolerant

Or you could even be more specific by stating the food you cannot consume.

Non mangio…I don’t eat…
…la carnemeat
…il pescefish
…le uovaeggs
...il formaggiocheese

Another way is to instruct the waiter or waitress to hold a particular ingredient.

Senza _____, per favore. 

Without ______, please.

Senza formaggio, per favore. 

Without cheese, please.

How to make a toast in Italian

The night is going on wonderfully, the food is good, and the drinks are even more inviting. Time to call for a toast! Here are some ways to do it.

Brindiamo alla saluteLet’s make a toast.
Cin cinCheers (used to congratulate someone or celebrate something)

How to express your appreciation of the food (or the opposite)

If at some point of the meal, a waiter or waitress approaches your table to see how you’re enjoying your meal, he or she may ask you:

Tutto a posto?

Is everything okay?”

When this happens, you can either compliment the meal or be honest and say why it’s not to your liking.

To express your delight over the meal, you can say:

È…. it’s
gustosissimo!tasty! (more informal)

But if you didn’t enjoy the food at all, you can say:

Non è di mio gusto

It’s not my taste”.

Then you can let them know what’s wrong

Troppo salatoToo salty
Troppo piccanteToo spicy
Manca saleIt lacks salt

How to ask for the bill in Italian

Finally, the meal is over and you’ve had your fill. One thing to remember is that the wait staff won’t give you the bill unless you ask for it. Doing so would be considered rude!

To ask for the bill, you can say any of the following:

Possiamo avere il conto?
Can we have the bill?
Il conto, per favore.The bill, please
Vorrei pagare, per favore.I would like to pay, please

More Italian Vocabulary for Dining

Now let’s take a look at even more Italian words for dining out.

Types of places to dine in Italy

Trattoriamore casual and homey than a restaurant; similar to a pub
caffèa coffee place
Paninotecasandwich shop selling paninis
Pizzeriapizza shop

Italian Dining Vocabulary

il cameriere/la camerierawaiter/ waitress
la manciatip
il piattoplate
la ciotolabowl
la tazzacup
il bicchiereglass
il coltelloknife
la forchettafork
il cucchiaiospoon
il tovagliolonapkin
la (prima) colazionebreakfast
il pranzo/la colazionelunch
la cenadinner
l'antipastostarter/hor d'oeuvres
la zuppasoup
il primofirst course
il secondosecond course
i contorniside dishes
i dolcidessert
da portarfor takeaway

Italian Vocabulary for Cooking Methods

al fornobaked
Alle bracebroiled over coals
Alla griglia/Grigliatagrilled (open fire)
Ai ferriGrilled (ridged metal plate)
in umidostewed


There you go with most, if not all, Italian words and phrases to help you survive dining out in a restaurant in Italy. Do you have any other vocabulary lists you would like us to cover here? Let us know in the comments section and we will do our best to include them--stat!

For a fun (and painless) way to expand your Italian vocabulary, you can check out the Italian Short Stories e-book below. Boost your vocabulary, learn Italian sentence structures naturally, and improve your reading and listening skills in Italian with the help of short storties.

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