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 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.
|la carne di cervo||venison|
|il baccalà||cod (dried)|
|la spigola||sea bass|
|il pesce spada||swordfish|
|acciughe / alici||anchovies|
|la salsa / Il sugo||sauce|
|le bevande||drinks / beverages|
|... rosso||red wine|
|... rosé||rose wine|
|vivace||rich, spicy, lively|
|l'acqua minerale||mineral water|
|l'acqua naturale||still water|
|l'acqua leggermente gassata||slightly sparkling|
|l'acqua frizzante / gassata||sparkling water / carbonated water|
|Il succo di frutta||fruit 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 celiaco/a||I have celiac disease.|
|Seguo una dieta |
|I follow a gluten-free diet.|
|I’m lactose intolerant|
Or you could even be more specific by stating the food you cannot consume.
|Non mangio…||I don’t eat…|
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 salute||Let’s make a toast.|
|Cin cin||Cheers (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:
|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 salato||Too salty|
|Troppo piccante||Too spicy|
|Manca sale||It 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
|Trattoria||more casual and homey than a restaurant; similar to a pub|
|caffè||a coffee place|
|Paninoteca||sandwich shop selling paninis|
Italian Dining Vocabulary
|il cameriere/la cameriera||waiter/ waitress|
|la (prima) colazione||breakfast|
|il pranzo/la colazione||lunch|
|il primo||first course|
|il secondo||second course|
|i contorni||side dishes|
|da portar||for takeaway|
Italian Vocabulary for Cooking Methods
|Alle brace||broiled over coals|
|Alla griglia/Grigliata||grilled (open fire)|
|Ai ferri||Grilled (ridged metal plate)|
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!
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A FUN AND EFFECTIVE WAY TO LEARN ITALIAN