A traditional Italian menu consists of an appetizer, a first course, and a second course. Traditionally, Italians enjoy their meals for an hour or two, during which they fellowship with friends or relatives. Particularly at Sunday lunch, they enjoy a delicious, relaxing meal.
Italy’s Common Appetizers
In Italy, antipasti (appetizers) vary from region to region. A plate of cold cuts might be expected in one region and something entirely different in another. Some restaurants offer appetizer buffets where you can choose your own appetizers.
Italian First Course (Primo)
Soup, risotto (rice dish), or pasta are usually the first courses of an Italian meal. There are several types of pasta available. Pasta is the most important ingredient in Italian pasta dishes, and sauce is de-emphasized. In Italy, pasta dishes are much less saucy than in the United States.
Italian Second Course (Secondo)
The second course of an Italian meal usually consists of meat, fish, or poultry, without vegetables or potatoes. Some restaurants offer vegetarian dishes upon request.
Italian Side Dishes
Vegetables (verdura), salads (insalata), and potatoes are popular side dishes. When you order a main course, you should order a side dish so that you will have vegetables with your meat.
The Desserts of Italy (Dolce)
Your meal will be followed by dessert. In some restaurants, you might find fruit or cheese on the menu. Dessert is followed by a digestive or coffee. It’s an after-dinner drink.
In Italy, wine, acqua minerale (mineral water), and vino are the most popular drinks with meals. You will usually be asked to order your drink before your meal. The house wine may be available for a reasonable price. After a meal, coffee is usually served.
Italian Dining Spots
Light meals can be obtained from bars, such as sandwiches, coffee and pastries, and ice cream. In contrast to American bars, Italian bars do not serve only alcohol. There are osterias (formal restaurants) and trattorias (casual restaurants). Restaurants (ristorante) are also available.
The Best Time to Dine in Italy
It’s common for Italians to eat late. Lunch starts at 1:00 and dinner is at 8:00. In popular tourist areas, you may find some restaurants open between lunch and dinner. Most shops close for several hours in the afternoon.
Cooking in Tuscany
Your taste buds will soar when you visit Tuscany! It is common for Tuscan cooks to use fresh ingredients, and they make bread without salt. Tuscan cuisine includes bistecca alla fiorentina (steak), crostini (canapes with chicken liver), and cacciucco (fish stew). Tuscan cuisine also features Chianti wine, olive oil, and pecorino cheese.
The Edibles of Sicily
Sicily is the largest Mediterranean island where Greeks, Romans, Spaniards, and many other nationalities have left their mark on the cuisine. In Sicilian cooking, seafood, citrus fruits, herbs, and vegetables are common ingredients. Sicilian specialties include eggplants filled with olives and tomatoes, risotto with seafood, roasted swordfish, and pasta mixed with lobster sauce. Gelato (ice cream), cannoli, and marzipan are popular Sicilian desserts.
Italian Ice Cream
The Italian word for ice cream is gelato, and it is often referred to as the best ice cream in the world. In Italy, you can buy ice cream easily. Most tourist locations have ice cream stands on the sidewalks during pleasant weather. Some bars and restaurants sell ice cream, as well as ice cream shops. “Gelato fatto en casa” indicates homemade ice cream.
There are so many wonderful restaurants and foods in Italy that it’s hard to decide where to eat. You can find delicious food even in small cafes! You can even take cooking lessons in some towns if you want to learn how to cook Italian food. Be sure to check out several different restaurants during your trip to Italy, no matter where you stay.