Touritaly.org Home
 



 

touritaly.org Site Logo - Italian flag with Tour of Italy for the FInancially Challenged text

Touritaly.org Home | Italy MAPS | Academic Content | Links | About Us | Italy News | Italian Phrasebook | Italy Weather | Site Map


Italian Restaurant Categories

I don't know about you, buy my family's holidays always turn into "Food Tours" where the most important decision we make is, "Where will we eat next?" The restaurant categories below will help you make the critical dining decisions that are the key to making your visit to Italy a holiday to remember. 

Dining is central to life the world over, but in Italy the dining experience is held in even higher regard.  Service is slower because meals are a time to come together to reinforce and strengthen the bonds that tie friends and family together.

 Expect linen napkins and linen table cloths. Expect your meal to be served in courses. Expect a highly professional dining room staff. Expect good wine at bargain prices. And, expect tasty local specialties. Do not expect to get in and out of a restaurant in 25 minutes.

Bar (or Snack Bar)

Central to Italian culture, coffee is the primary product served at bars. Caffe' is the word Italians use to describe espresso. If you are looking for brewed coffee, request un caffe' Americano. It is typical to pay first at the cassa (cashier) and then present the receipt to the barman/barmaid while repeating your order. A small tip (<= 1 Euro) to the barman is customary.

Bars also typically serve alcohol,  pastries, and small snacks. Many bars also serve gelato and chocolates (ciccolatte).

 

Trattoria

These are small, family owned restaurants that usually offer a simple menu consisting of local favorites.  Trattoria's are a typically more economical than a full ristorante, yet more expensive than a tavola calda. Usually you can expect table service that is more of a 'down home' experience. The trattoria is an excellent choice if you would like to experience the local culture and flavors.

 

Tavola Calda

Literally translated, tavola calda means 'hot table'. These eateries are generally quite economical and offer the best chance of popping in for a quick bite.  They generally lack table service, and if there is any table service it will be very basic - perhaps fetching drinks.  These are the fastest eateries because the simple menu is pre-prepared and served cafeteria-style.  A good choice for a fast, economical lunch.

 

Ristorante

The Italian Ristorante is a full-blown dining experience.  Plates are generally served al a carte and full service is the norm.  There are a wide range of ristorante experiences available from casual to ultra-posh and one should be aware and dress accordingly. 

Be aware that at most risorante's there will be a servizio and a gratuito on the bill. Servizio is a place-setting charge for each diner, usually 3 Euro or less, while the gratuito is a gratuity or tip.  It is wise to inspect the bill to find what amounts have already been added in these categories and then add an appropriate additional tip if service met or exceeded your expectations.

 

Rosticceria

These small road-side rotisseries are  quick, easy, and tasty. Usually, there is very limited or no seating and relying on a take-away or stand-up model. Typically, chicken and turkey are skewered and rotisserie broiled over a wood-burnt fire.  The poultry is seasoned with salt and pepper, and in some places special mixtures of seasonings and fresh herbs.  Simple frittura (deep fried) side dishes and patatine (chips and crisps) are offered to accompany the chicken. On occasion, I have also seen red meats and even fish offered at a Rosticceria. 

 

Gelateria

Ahh, the vita dolce... Ice cream shoppes. However, Italian gelato is not ice cream proper. It is made with lighter cream and milk and incorporates rich and intense flavors to compensate. Generally, apart from the ubiquitous packaged frozen treats, each gelateria makes its own offerings. This makes gelato tasting akin to wine tasting - there are many subtle differences to be discovered and appreciated.

 

Pizzeria

I have heard my Italian friends say a day without pizza is like a day without sunshine (also, substitute 'pasta' for pizza and it will still be a commonly heard expression).  Generally, the pizzeria will have an extensive pizza menu and some simple pasta offerings.  The service is take-away to full sit-down table service.

The epicenter for outstanding pizza is, with absolute certainty, Naples.  The Neapolitans have built a culture around their outstanding style of pizza.  If you go to Napoli, visit pizzeria Brandi downtown. Try a few different Neapolitan pizzeria's. A pizza experience in Naples is a must!  If you are more than 50 Km outside of Naples, the Italian pizza is still good, but not earth-shaking.

 

Panioteca

Simply put, this is a sandwich shop and/or bakery. The panioteca is a good choice for a quick, economical lunch. However, be advised that Italians generally serve their sandwiches simple. Meaning, that they are generally not served with vegetables (i.e. lettuce, onion, tomato, pickles, etc.)  There are sandwiches that have tomatoes, but they follow commonly accepted naming conventions throughout Italy. For example, a Caprese sandwich will be made with mozzarella di buffola, tomatoes, and fresh basil.  So, if you were looking for a ham and mozzarella sandwich with tomatoes and basil, you would request un panino Caprese con prociutto cotto.

 

Pasticceria

A bakery or pastry shop. If you have a sweet tooth, this could be the place for you.  However, American's be warned that sweets in Italy are generally not quite as sweet comparable products in the USA. I have found that many times the confections are a treat to the eyes but, leave my cravings unfulfilled. Some pastries that I have found to be agreeable to my, embarrassingly American, tastes are sfoliatella ricci (Sf-ohl-ee-ah-tell-uh ree-kee) -a flaky pastry filled with a creamy custard filling, and cornetti di ciccolate (korn-et-tee dee chick-oh-la-tay) a chocolate or nutella filled croissant pastry.

Osteria

These are small, family owned restaurants and inns that usually offer a simple menu consisting of local favorites. Osteria's, though not always, are sometimes the outgrowth of a bed and breakfast type of operation. Osteria's are a typically more economical than a full ristorante, yet more expensive than a tavola calda. Usually you can expect table service that is more of a 'down home' experience. The osteria is an excellent choice if you would like to experience the local culture and flavors.

Touritaly.org Home

 
 

Touritaly.org Home | Italy MAPS | Academic Content | Links | About Us | Italy News | Italian Phrasebook | Italy Weather | Site Map

© 1999-2008 by Tour of Italy for the Financially Challenged/touritaly.org

All Rights Reserved | legal dogma