Italian Recipes For Dummies
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Whether you're on a short visit to an Italian-speaking country or you're planning to take up residence in Italy itself, knowing how to order food in Italian is essential. Eating out can be a lot of fun, especially if you know some basic vocabulary.

The Italian bar is really what Americans would call a café. There you can get breakfast (coffee and a pastry), snacks, sandwiches, and salty snacks to accompany your before-dinner drink.

assegno (ahs-seh-nyoh) [m] (check)
pagare (pah-gah-reh) (to pay)
soldi (sohl-dee) [m/pl] (money)

In Italian-speaking countries, as in most of the rest of the world, there are three meals a day: colazione (koh-lah-tsee-oh-neh) [f] (breakfast), pranzo (prahn-tsoh) [m] (lunch), and cena (cheh-nah) [f] (dinner).

The following phrases might help you when you're eating at a restaurant.

  • Vorrei prenotare. (I’d like to make a reservation.)

  • Per che ora? (For what time?)

  • Per quante persone? (For how many people?)

  • No, non abbiamo prenotato. (No, we don’t have a reservation.)

  • Ci porti il conto, per favore. [Formal] (Bring us the check, please.)

Here are some food items you can order:

antipasti (ahn-tee-pahs-tee) [m] (appetizers)
carne (kahr-neh) [f] (meat)
cioccolata (choh-koh-lah-tah) [f] (chocolate)
formaggio (fohr-mahj-joh) [m] (cheese)
fragola (frah-goh-lah) [f] (strawberry)
frutta (froot-tah) [f] (fruit)
gelato (jeh-lah-toh) [m] (ice cream)
insalata (een-sah-lah-tah) [f] (salad)
pane (pah-neh) [m] (bread)
pesce (peh-cheh) [m] (fish)
riso (ree-zoh) [m] (rice)
sale (sah-leh) [m] (salt)
verdura (vehr-doo-reh) [f] (vegetables)

The following phrases can help you place your drink order.

  • Un caffè, per favore. (A coffee, please.)

  • Un bicchiere di latte caldo (A glass of warm milk)

  • Una cioccolata calda (A hot chocolate)

  • Tre birre (Three beers)

  • Un bicchiere di acqua minerale (A glass of mineral water)

  • Liscia o gassata? (Flat or carbonated?)

  • Un panino, per favore. (I’ll have a sandwich, please.)

  • Lo scontrino, per favore. (Receipt, please.)

  • Due cappuccini, per favore. (Two cappuccinos, please.)

Here are some drink items you can order

acqua (ahk-koo-ah) [f] (water)
vino (vee-noh) [m] (wine)
bere (beh-reh) (to drink)
birra (beer-rah) [f] (beer)
caffè (kahf-feh) [m] (coffee)
latte (laht-teh) [m] (milk)

You might want to use the following adjectives to when giving your cameriere/cameriera (waiter/waitress) your food or drink order:

calda/o (kahl-dah/doh) [f/m] (warm; hot)
fredda/o (frehd-dah/doh) [f] (cold)
dolce (dohl-cheh) [m/f] (sweet)
grande (grahn-deh) [m/f] (big; tall; large)
piccola/o (peek-koh-lah/loh) [f/m] (small; short)

Italians don’t drink cappuccino after breakfast time.

About This Article

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About the book author:

As an award-winning, best-selling author, chef, television personality, and educator, Amy Riolo is one of the world's foremost authorities on culinary culture. She is known for sharing history, culture, and nutrition through global cuisine as well as simplifying recipes for the home cook. Riolo is a food historian, culinary anthropologist, and Mediterranean diet specialist who makes frequent appearances on television and radio, both in the United States and abroad.

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