The Proper Way to Eat an Italian Meal

The Proper Way to Eat an Italian Meal

Have you ever eaten a proper Italian meal? If not, you probably don’t know the right way to go about enjoying one. If you plan on visiting Italy any time soon, be sure to do your research before you embarrass yourself in a restaurant. Below we will discuss the proper order for enjoying a meal.


You should always start with an apéritifs. Apéritifs are alcoholic drinks served before your meal that are meant to spark your appetite without overwhelming your senses. Drinks are often served with something to eat, such as crackers, cheese, pâté, or olives. These drinks are typically light and dry, like white wine or champagne.


The first set of food is the antipasta, which is basically an appetizer. It can be as simple as peppers soaked in oil, eggs of bocconcini, mushrooms, anchovies, cured hams and salamis, and bread.


Primo, or the first course, is something like a simple plate of pasta, gnocci, lasagne, polenta, a casserole, or soup. Do NOT ask for spaghetti bolognese or fettuccine alfredo as these are American-Italian dishes and do not exist in Italy. If you aren’t sure what to order, ask your server for recommendations.


Secondo, or the second course, typically consists of meat, fish, or chicken and is served with a salad or vegetables. Again, if you aren’t sure what to order it’s always a good idea to ask your server for recommendations.


It is common in Italy to finish off a meal with a caffé, which is just a shot of espresso. If you aren’t a fan of espresso, ask for a sorbetto instead.


Lastly, meals are finished with digestivo or grappa. This is essentially the opposite of apéritifs in that they are meant to aid digestion. They are alcoholic drinks filled with herbs and spices that are believed to have stomach settling properties. These drinks are typically bitter liqueurs and contain more alcohol than apéritifs.