Why is pizza considered an Italian food

Restaurants, pizzerias, osterias, trattorias,
Bars and agriturismi



A posh restaurant in the Vittorio Emanuele Gallery in Milan. But it is also cheaper.
Photo:
Elena Chochkova

Where can you eat something in Italy?

La pizzeria

Here you are on the safe side, because there is something here that you also know from Germany: pizza. And if you avoid the combination of pizza / wine, which is frowned upon by the Italians, you will not be looked at with pity by the waiter either. In Italy, pizza is only eaten with beer, cola or water.

Il Ristorante-Pizzeria

To be found more and more often: There is pizza as well as "Primi" and "Secondi" (more on this below), so spaghetti, risotti, meat dishes and vegetables on the menu. Don't expect five-star cuisine here, however.

L'Osteria

The dictionary says: "Wirtshaus, Schenke". Mostly to be found in small towns, often mostly visited by locals. As a rule, you will find a very reduced menu here with simple dishes. Strangely enough, luxury restaurants with the title "Osteria" have recently been masking themselves in the big cities, as if a Ferrari owner were calling his noble car "Fiat 500".

La trattoria

Most likely to be compared with the traditional "inn". Somewhat higher in level than the very popular "Osteria". Often the trattorias specialize in local / regional cuisine. A real, usually cheaper alternative to the Ristorante.
Il Ristorante

The classic restaurant. As a rule, you will not find any pizza or panini here. Before you sit down at the table, however, you should take a look at the price list, because the prices in restaurants are often significantly higher in Italy than in Germany.

L'Agriturismo

A new fashion in Italy and not the worst: actually, the word "farm holidays" means something that is also becoming increasingly popular in Italy. But most of the "Agriturimi" are a kind of trattoria, but mostly they are only allowed to offer food from their own cultivation or their own breeding (they have tax advantages over restaurants). An "agriturismo" only offers a very limited selection of dishes - sometimes there is even only a single menu that changes every day - the quality is usually very good and there is hardly a better place to enjoy regional or local specialties to get to know. There are no reheated frozen meals here, and probably no beer either. An agriturism, which can also be very large, often offers you a very pleasant family atmosphere. Try one! The best thing to do is to get a tip from a local Italian about where it tastes best.

Il bar

In recent years, many bars, especially in the big cities, have switched to offering not only the classic panini, which can actually be enough as a quick lunch, but also primi piatti (pasta and rice dishes), pizzette (small pieces of pizza) and salads. If you don't have the time or inclination to visit the restaurant between a visit to a museum and the other, the bar is almost the ideal solution. Not for dinner, though, because the bars usually close at half past seven and after five there is very likely only the stale leftovers of the day, if at all.

Mc Donalds & Co.

There are of course also in Italy, and these eateries are the exact photocopies of their branches of the same name in Tokyo, New York or Hintertupfingen. You can't expect anything Italian here, of course, and the friendly boys and girls at the cash register are probably not from Rome, Venice or Florence, but rather from India, Morocco or Nigeria.

Come in...

Buon giorno!

Even if the restaurant is half empty, you shouldn't just sit down at a free table, but wait for a waiter first. You then tell them how many people you are looking for a table for and have them assign one to you. If the waiter is allowed to feel important, he will be nicer to you ...

Vietato fumare!

In Italy, smoking is prohibited in all public spaces. So even where you want to eat. Vietato fumare! Very few eateries have their own smoking compartments, so if you really can't do without it, you'd better go out for 5 minutes and pursue your vice. This is also very communicative, because out there you will most likely meet other fellow sufferers who have driven out the same need.

Let's finally get down to business!

Gli antipasti

Don't underestimate the starters! They are often so rich - especially in the agriturismi (see above) - that sometimes you are no longer hungry afterwards. They usually consist of different types of cheese, sausage and ham. With bread and olives, but often also aubergines, zucchini and mozzarella. In noble restaurants, the antipasti can also have seafood. Since the primi and secondi are more standardized, many chefs let their imagination run wild when it comes to antipasti. If you look at the menu, you will also notice that the prices of the antipasti can also keep up with those of the "Primi". My tip: if the antipasti seem very rich, order 2 servings for 3 or 4 people.

I primi

The typical dishes of the type "Jägerschnitzel with noodles and salad" (the Italians call this "piatto unico") do not exist in Italy. You may already know the difference between "Primi" and "Secondi" from the Italian restaurants in Germany. The primi are usually noodle dishes (pasta) or rice dishes (risotto), which can be very different depending on the region. The portions of the "Primi" are rather small, because after all there is the "Secondi" afterwards!

I secondi

"Secondi" means meat or fish dishes. You will look in vain for the combination of meat and fish with potatoes, pasta or rice, which is very common in Germany, on an Italian menu. Potatoes, vegetables and salad can be found under "Contorni" (side dishes), but where there is neither pasta nor rice, after all, that was already available at the "Primi".

Il dolce

The crowning glory of every meal are the "dolci": desserts or ice cream. A queen of the Italian desserts is the tiramisu, which you may already know from Germany and which is available practically everywhere in Italy. But I recommend that you simply take the risk here: there is very little you can go wrong with the "dolci". Even if you don't understand much of what is listed under this point on the menu, just try and enjoy ...

Il caffé

After dinner, the caffè (of course not the German coffee but the espresso) is a compulsory exercise for Italians. At this point, try to suppress your desire for a cappuccino, otherwise you could slip all the way down in the waiter's reputation: after all, you only drink cappuccino in the morning, after that only the Germans, English and Americans do it, they hardly ever anyway know something about food!

After dinner: paying

Il "coperto": how to make meals more expensive without the guest noticing ...

You have eaten and, as a good German that you are, you have already summed up the prices of all the goodies eaten before the waiter brings the bill. Now you really only expect the confirmation of your computing power, but you have to experience a surprise: the waiter wants more than you have calculated! Don't accuse him of dishonesty, because the reason is in the small print on the menu that you have probably overlooked: "Coperto € 2" could have been there, for example. "Coperto" is a kind of usage fee for plates, glasses, cutlery, tablecloths, serviettes and maybe also for the air you breathe in the restaurant, nobody knows for sure. In any case, a "coperto" is almost always added, per person, of course, regardless of what and how much you ate.

Together or separately?

The easiest way to make yourself unpopular in a restaurant is to ask ten people to have separate cash registers at the end of a culinary feast. Some restaurants and pizzerias even categorically reject this and point it out with more or less polite signs at the checkout. Choose the solution that most Italians practice: they simply divide the total by the number of participants and graciously ignore whether one might have washed down a glass of beer more than the other. If that goes against the grain, the next time you have a glass of schnapps more than the others ...

Tip: yes or no?

What you paid more at the "Coperto" you can get back with your tip: this is not mandatory in Italy, apart from perhaps some posh restaurants, which normal tourists shouldn't go to anyway if they don't want to ruin themselves and their families. So you don't need to feel guilty if you pay the exact amount requested and no one will think you're a tight-knit because of it. But if you still want to give something, you will of course be thanked ...

Last not least: la "ricevuta fiscale"

Nobody likes to pay taxes, and in Italy tax evasion is a kind of national sport, even more widespread and popular than football. If after paying you are not given a "Ricevuta fiscale" (that is the legally required receipt) or only a handwritten note, then the restaurant owner is trying to cheat the Italian state a little bit. Ask for the ricevuta and when you have it, don't throw it away! Because it may well happen that a polite tax investigator asks you a hundred meters after the exit. And if you don't have a Ricevuta, it's not just the restaurant owner who pays, you will be asked to pay as well! Such controls are not that common, but they do happen - just like speed controls on the autobahn.

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Your comment on this page
Ibrahim Catak:
That explained a lot about my trip to Italy.
Many Thanks.
(14.12.2018)

Mathias Möwitz:

I should have read that at the beginning of my trip!
Thank you anyway.
(01.05.2018)

Karola Gadacz-Merrill:
Thank you for your useful tips. The last visits to Italy were in the 69s and 70s: a lot stayed the same and the memory was helpful.
(04.05.2016)

Sabine wood:
A very appropriate, amusing and entertaining introduction to Italian gastronomy!
(09.04.2015)

For the eighth time in a row:


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