The Anatomy of the Italian Menu
If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to travel to Italy, then you know dining there is one of the best parts of the experience. While some restaurants may offer their menus in English, many (especially the good ones that are off the beaten path!) do not.
Where Should You Eat?
If you are looking for something easy and laid-back, try a pizzeria (pizza, of course!) or a trattoria. Trattorias are generally a small or family owned establishment with a no-frills menu. Another option is to look for an osteria, where there is more focus on wine but still offers simple food choices. If you are in the mood for something more upscale, opt for a ristorante where you find a larger menu and an elegant ambiance.
Antipasto: The meal starts with an antipasto, which translates to “starter” in English. Similar to an American appetizer, favorite Italian antipasti includes bruschetta, salumi and formaggi platters, and various types of vegetables in oil (artichokes , bell pepper and a vast variety of olives).
Primo Piatto: The primo piatto, or “first plate,” is typically a pasta, ravioli, risotto or minestre (soup). And the type depends on what region you are in. In this section of the menu you may find Sugo Alla Norma or Spaghettoni Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino.
Secondo Piatto: If by now you are guessing Secondo Piatto means “second plate” you are right. This second plate follows the first and is typically the heartiest part of the meal. It is where you will most likely find meat and seafood.
Dolci: And no meal is complete without something sweet! And “sweet” is exactly how Dolci translates into english. Typical Italian desserts include gelato, tiramisù, or cannoli typically enjoyed with a nice espresso.