Language is a great way to understand that little bit more about your favourite country and it’s delicious cuisine. Italian food can be confusing! For a start the course structure at meal time is not what many UK consumers will be used to. Throw away notions of a defined starter, main and desert. It is here that knowing a little about the lingo will be very useful to you, to truly explore the menu to its fullest. This short guide reveals a little about how the real Italian dinner is presented.
First choose the right place!
The terms ristorante, trattoria & osteria can all denote restaurant, but can vary greatly in terms of setting and vibe-all can offer amazing food experiences.
The ristorante of course is the most high-end of the three, with formal waiter service, and swanky surroundings. Expect smart or formal dress, and a wine list to die for.
A trattoria is usually less formal, often with more of a family feel and home style cooking. Here you can taste the recipes that mama and nona would fight to protect!
An osteria is more similar to a bar or tavern that serves meals. Historically these were bars where locals would consume their own food, but these days think more along the lines of Italian tapas.
A good starting tip! Look out for the phrase “Di nostra produzione” or “fatto in casa” this will mean that the offerings will be home made.
The classic Italian meal often has 4-6 courses.
Aperitivo– Is a familiar concept, similar to an Aperitif, a glass of Proecco or liquor to start proceedings and awaken the taste buds.
The antipasto or antipasti (plural)- translating simply to “before the meal” this will be a familiar concept to most. A delicious mixture of bread, marinated veg, olives, charcutterie, cheese and pastries.
The primo: Ignore that rather lovely course you just enjoyed, you haven’t even started yet! Pasta is principally served as an appetizer for the primo, although it can also be a soup, rice or polenta dish.
Il secondo/ Il contorno-
Il secondo-This course is usually a simply presented protein option. Often grilled fish and meat in modest amounts, lovingly prepared-it is quality over quantity that is important here.
Il contorno- This usually accompanies the main course, and can contain a variety of veg sides and potato dishes.
The dolce- The Italian dessert trolley is often a sight to behold! Tiramasu, pannecotta, gelato-say no more
Caffe- Coffee is a way of life in Italy. You ca expect to be frowned upon if you dilute the precious comidity-eve with milk. Often takes the shape of an Expresso with some biscotti
Digestivo-An after dinner liqueur like grappa or sambucca. On a recent trip I tried the grappa, and was then was given a delicious frozen orangecello to cleanse the pallet, and then a the limoncello, a lovely nutty Frangelico, and then……you get the idea!
Just add good wine and plenty of friends and family!
Buon appetito !
Come to Punto and enjoy traditional Italian food in our fantastic newly refurbished premises.