While travelling in Italy you will come across different types of bars and restaurants, namely trattoria, ristorante and osteria and you might wonder what the differences are. The differences today don’t mean as much as in the past but the trattorias are traditionally family owned, casual, rustic restaurants that serve fresh, conventional local food.

Ristorante should mean a full service restaurant, and there should according to history be a waiter or waitress to seat you. You should expect complete or à la carte offerings presented on a printed menu with fixed prices. Your food should be prepared by professional kitchen staff and should represent selections from several ordered courses. However this is not always the reality any longer, so don’t expect that the food is necessarily better or more sophisticated at ristorantes.

Osterias originally were wine bars that in many case have evolved to serve simple meals. Traditionally, they don’t have a menu: The offering changes daily, according to the market and two or three courses are offered for a fixed price, not always wine is included. In Bologna anyway there is a very famous Osteria where they still serve only wine. Even water, if you want it, you must bring with you!

Remember:

Never use a knife when eating pasta, if you cut your pasta it then become impossible to twirl.

To eat spaghetti, you only use a fork. And, incidentally, such thing as spaghetti alla bolognese, exists only for tourists. You can, however, usually find pasta al ragù, which differs from region to region and, to be honest, from village to village.

Coperto

Not a service charge that goes to the wait staff (there is a separate “servizio” for that, below), but the price of bread, water, and any other amenity.

Coperto is charged per Person.

Servizio

Italians almost never tip at restaurants, bars, or cafés, and a servizio, or “service charge” works much differently than a tip.

In theory, this is the (rare, but growing) case in which a restaurant will factor in the cost of staff expenses, though this charge doesn’t necessarily go to the staff in the same way a tip would.

In Italy normally, after your meal is delivered, you may not see the waiter at your table again until it’s time to clear your plates. And when you’re done with your meal, after coffee or dessert or whatever your final course was, no one’s going to come by with a bill without you specifically asking for it.

This is not the waiter being rude. This is the waiter letting you enjoy your meal and your dinner conversation for as long as you want. Restaurants in Italy are not looking to “turn over” tables every 1.5 hours – once you sit down, that’s it, that’s your table. It’s yours as long as you’re there. So when you’re ready to leave, you just flag down your waiter the next time he passes by and say, “Il conto, per favore” You’ll get your check, and you’re not being rude for asking for it.

Now some essential phrases for your next trip to Italy.

PHRASEBOOK

I would you like something to eat – Vorrei qualcosa da mangiare

I would you like something todrink – Vorrei qualcosa da bere

I would likeVorrei

Something – Qualcosa

To eat – Da mangiare

To drinkDa bere

What would you like to eat? – Cosa vuoi mangiare?

What would you like to drink? – Cosa vuoi bere?

What – Cosa?

I would like a plate of spaghetti al pesto Vorrei un piatto di spaghetti al pesto

I would like a risotto with mushrooms – Vorrei un risotto ai funghi

We would like two pizzas, thanks – Vorremmo due pizze, grazie

What types of sandwiches do you have?– Che tipi di tramezzini avete?

Sandwiches – Tramezzini/Panini

Ham – Prosciutto

TomatoPomodoro

And a bottle of red wine, please – E una bottiglia di vino rosso, per favore

A bottle of wine – Una bottiglia di vino

Red wine – Vino rosso

White wine – Vino bianco

A bottle of water – Una bottiglia di acqua

Sparkling or still? – Gassata o naturale?

Sparkling water – Acqua gassata

Still water – Acqua naturale

A glass of water – Un bicchiere d’acqua

An icecream Un gelato

What flavours do you have? – Che gusti ha?

Flavours – Gusti

Chocolate – cioccolato

Strawberry – fragole

Starter – Antipasto

First plate – Primo piatto

Main plate – Secondo piatto

Vegetables on theside – Contorno

Desert– Il dolce

The bill, pleaseIl conto, per favore

The bill – Il conto

In italiano

Viaggiando attraverso l’Italia noterete diversi tipi di locali, chiamati trattoria, ristorante e osteria e potreste chiedervi quale sia la differenza tra i tre. Va detto innanzitutto che oggigiorno la differenza non è molto marcata come in passato, in ogni modo generalmente nelle trattorie si trova una cucina più casalinga; cibo fresco, semplice e genuino molto legato alle tradizioni locali e solitamente offerto a un prezzo contenuto.

Ristorante dovrebbe significare un locale dove il servizio è molto curato e, tradizionalmente. un cameriere dovrebbe si occuparsi del cliente dall’inizio alla fine del pasto. Dovrebbe esservi la possibilità di scegliere tra un menù completo presentato su appositi fogli stampati e con i prezzi fissi scritti a fianco dei piatti. In teoria i cuochi che lavorano in un ristorante dovrebbero essere tutti dei professionisti. Va detto, però, che non sempre è così e il cibo in un ristorante non è detto che sia migliore di quello che potreste trovare in un’osteria o in una trattoria.

Le Osterie in origine nascono come luoghi dove è possibile bere il vino ma nel tempo si sono evolute e hanno cominciato a servire piatti, a volte anche elaborati, da accompagnare al bicchiere di vino scelto. Il menù offerto, di solito, cambia di giorno in giorno e due o tre piatti sono offerti al cliente a un prezzo fisso. Il vino a volte è incluso nel prezzo, altre volte no. A Bologna comunque c’è una famosa osteria dove ancora oggi servono solo vino. Perfino l’acqua, se la vuoi, devi portartela tu!

Qualunque locale scegliate vi auguriamo: Buon appetito!

www.languageclainitaly.com
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