What can be better than visiting Italy? Eating the food in Italy!
Here are some tips that will help you eat like a local:
Choose the right restaurant–
- When the sign says Authentic Trattoria but the menu is in 12 different languages, walk on by
- When there is a “host” standing in the front (or worse-outside), walk on by. Most great local restaurants don’t need one
Don’t butter your bread–
- Most Italians don’t butter their bread. Some may use olive oil but many will use the bread as a utensil— to help scoop up the food before putting it in your mouth!
Salad doesn’t come before the meal—
- In the US, we eat salad first but not so in Italy. Salad will come with the main plate.
- Don’t expect mixed salad dressing. Just use the oil and vinegar which will be on the table.
Eating Pasta is an art—
- Never cut pasta with a knife and fork and never use a spoon to swirl your spaghetti. The only utensil Italians use for their pasta is a fork.
- If you want pasta with meat, it’s call ragu style
- If you want a cream sauce, then order pasta with panna
- Serving spaghetti with meatballs is not Italian. If you want meatballs, order Polpette as a 2nd course.
- Cappuccino is for the morning only. Don’t make the mistake of ordering it after dinner
- If you want a coffee after your meal, order expresso
- If you are in a cafe and you just want to sit down and have a cup of coffee, the charge will be 2 or 3 times as much as if you stand to drink your coffee.
Tipping in Italy–
- Tipping in Italy is very different than tipping in the US where we typically leave between 15 and 20%.
- If there is a service charge (servizio) listed on the menu, then no tipping is required or expected.
- If there is no service charge listed, the standard tip would be 5-10%.
- If you’re not sure if the service charge has been added it, you can ask for an itemized bill (il conto dettagliato)
Thank you to the Bettoja Hotels for these great tips.