Published on: 15 February 2014 | Last updated: 10 February 2017
Series: Eating out in Italy
Eating out in Italy is different to going to an Italian restaurant at home. Forget any ideas you might have about Italian cuisine - apart from pizza, which is pretty much ubiquitous there’s no such thing as standard Italian food: the local specialities vary hugely from region to region, and even from town to town. You might see a local speciality in one town or village and then never see it anywhere else. For me, this makes eating local food in bars and restaurants an important part of the experience of travelling in Italy.
Eating out in Italy is different to going to an Italian restaurant at home. Forget any ideas you might have about ‘Italian cuisine’: apart from pizza, which is pretty much ubiquitous there’s no such thing as standard Italian food - the local specialities vary hugely from region to region, and even from town to town. You might see a local speciality in one town or village and then never see it anywhere else. For me, this makes eating local food in bars and restaurants an important part of the experience of travelling in Italy.
Read Eating Out in Italy
One of the great things about travelling in Italy is the variety of food - menus change from place to place. Regions and towns are often very proud of their local produce and specialities. So even if you’re on a budget it’s worth eating out now to make your experience complete. A short guide from primo to secondo not forgetting knives and forks and tipping.
Part 3: Fish, seafood and meat
Along the coast and around Italy’s many, many inland lakes, fish and seafood are stars of the show. And even in the mountains look out for freshly-caught trout from the rivers and streams. Meat in different forms is also often the centrepiece of a big blow-out Sunday lunch. Ham and other types of salami prepared according to traditional methods.
Pasta, rice, grains and pulses: Risotto is one of the glories of Italian cooking, and if you’re lucky, travelling through Italy you’ll come across dishes that you’ll never ever see at home. Pasta comes in a bewildering variety of types - including bigoli, pici and chitarra …
Part 5: Pizza and focaccia
Pizza may be universal throughout the western world, but pizzerias in Italy are different; most don’t open at lunch, and you are likely to see types of pizza that you won’t see at home.
Eating out: a glossary
Some of the more unusual food words you may come across
Panini and food to go
A packed lunch is an obvious way to save money - and in some of the remoter areas you may well not find anywhere to eat so it may be the only option. A quick guide to the options from a panino to an arancione.
Read: panini and food to go
Shopping for food
Italy has plenty of good restaurants, but even if you’re not on a limited budget, at some point you may need to go shopping for food. some useful words and phrases, as well as a heads-up on the number one ‘gotcha’ for foreigners in Italy.
Read Shopping for food
Coffee and Cafes
Coffee is something the Italians take seriously. And they do it well.
Coffee in Italy: an introduction to the many variations. Not to mention how to tell whether you need to pay before you have your coffee or afterwards and when to ask for a brioche, and when to ask for cornetto when you want a croissant.
Read: Coffee and cafes
A quick guide to drinking in Italy, from water to wine, not to mention beer and grappa.