10 tips for eating in Italy!
“OMG! How can you eat that much and be so thin?“
🙋♀️ That is a typical question my clients ask me whenever they see me eating. If you are lucky enough to go to a restaurant with Italians, the topic will eventually turn to food!
When you come to visit us in our beautiful country of Italy, prepare to experience our typical dishes (and Italian rules about food!) at its best! 😎
Here are 10 tips for eating in Italy!
Here are 10 tips for eating in Italy!
- Let’s begin with the opening times!
Restaurants in Italy open for lunch around 12:00 pm and close between 2:30 and 3:00 pm.
They re-open again at 7:00 pm and typically stay open until 11 pm.
In the most visited cities, most of the restaurants in the center are open all day long but you will not find Italians at their tables!
- 2. In Italy, people love to eat and love the whole eating experience!
Get ready for the first thing that will surprise you for certain and might possibly break your heart 💔: WE DO NOT EAT SPAGHETTI WITH MEATBALLS!
We do eat spaghetti and we do eat meatballs, but we NEVER put them together in the same dish!
Second heartbreaking news: 💔 💔 There is only one restaurant that makes FETTUCCINI ALFREDO (sorry, you spell it wrong!! They are called FETTUCCINE!) and it is the restaurant “Alfredo” in Rome.
- In addition, we have never heard of CHICKEN PARMIGIANA!
- The only parmigiana we eat in Italy is the original one with eggplants, tomato sauce 🍅 and mozzarella cheese – but no chicken, for sure!
- 3. 🍽 Our menu is divided into 5 sections: ANTIPASTI (Starters), PRIMI PIATTI (First Course), 🥩 SECONDI (Main Course), 🥗 CONTORNI (side dishes) and 🥧DOLCI (Desserts). YES, we eat a five-course meal for special occasions, but not every day (except my 👴 Grandpa, he could eat like that twice a day!).
- The truth is that you can get whatever you want, in whatever order you want but make sure you always order the local food. 🇮🇹
- Italian dishes vary widely depending on the region. If you are in Milan, try Ossobuco and Risotto 🥘, but please do not ask for spaghetti carbonara or pasta with pesto.
If you do not know which is the specialty of a specific area, remember you have a friend in Italy who might help you! 🦸♀️
- 4. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar are not normally served with bread! Why? 🥖
Because dipping bread in a bowl of olive oil and balsamic is something we never do!
On top of that, the vinegar would ruin our taste buds before the meal. 🧐
- If we want an appetizer, we may have a bruschetta (pronounced brusketta!) but that is something different! And please, do not tell me you do the olive oil-vinegar-parmesan cheese combo!
👮♀️ That’s too much for me!
- 5. 💧 In restaurants in Italy, you can choose your water. You can choose naturale (still) or frizzante (sparkling) and it’s always served fredda (cold) unless you ask for room temperature. ❄️
Although tap water is safe to drink, we do not drink tap water at restaurants.
- 🧊 Bottled water never comes with ice so if you are used to drinking your water on the rocks, you might be disappointed! Some restaurants will give you a small quantity of ice to put in your glass if you ask.
- 6. 🍷 You may ask for a glass of wine even if only bottles are listed on the menu! House wine is pretty affordable and it’s a good option if you do not want more than one glass!
- 7. In Italy only rude waiters rush you. 🛎You will not get the bill (il conto) until you ask for it. You may have to ask for it more than once.
✍️ If you are in a hurry, ask for the check when you receive the last item you ordered.
- 8. 💰 When you receive il conto (the bill), you might see a cover charge or service charge added. Normally the cover/service charge is 2 €, 3 € per person.
In Italian, we say coperto and it’s generally written in a small font at the bottom of the menu allowing you to check it out while ordering your meal. 👩🏫 But why do we have to pay a cover charge?
- The coperto practice dates back to the Middle Ages 🧙 when people used to stop at inns to eat food they had brought from with them.
The innkeepers, unable to make money selling the travelers food, charged them for the space they occupied (posto coperto) while eating and for the use of cutlery and plates.
- Sorry, we love traditions! 😙
- 9. To tip or not to tip? That is the question. 💸
- Tipping is not expected in Italy nor is it expected in most other European Countries. However, despite tipping not being required, gratuities are always appreciated. 😎 I normally tip 10%.
The tip has to be cash! If you add a tip to the bill and pay by credit card, the waiter will never get that money! 🤭
- 10. Last but not least… PLEASE, do not ask for a cappuccino after your meal! 🥃Cappuccino in Italy is socially acceptable for breakfast but no later than 11 am! What you can get is an ☕️ espresso, followed by a digestivo (limoncello or other liqueurs) that will help your digestion! 🤩