Italian Restaurant Guide to Etiquette and Ordering

Don't do what we did. 

Italian Restaurant Guide to Etiquette and Ordering

Alright you guys, IT IS TIME. It is time to share with you how ignorant we were when we first dined at a restaurant in Italy. As Americans, we are so used to calling in our “to-go” orders and not finishing our food when dining in at a restaurant. We lived fast-paced lifestyles and depended on drive-thru’s to help fuel our bodies.

So, today, we are sharing with you our honest mistake. We thought this might come in handy for you when you decide to visit Italy in the near future. We want to spare you the dirty looks sooner than later. 

How To Dine In Italy


Top 5 Things To Know Before Dining In Italy

1) No Doggy Bags

One does not simply sit down and order food to place in a “to-go" container.

Italy does not do doggy bags. When we first walked into the restaurant, our waitress was incredibly upbeat, nice and even taught us a few words in Italian. For Italians, dining is one of their favorite past times, that’s why they eat in courses! Dining allows them to spend time with family and it should never be an expedited experience. With that being said, you are basically expected to finish the food you order which decreases the chances of throwing food away. So, next time you find yourself in an Italian restaurant (no, not Olive Garden) make sure you only order what you can finish or simply allocate enough time to finish your meal.

2) Eat the bread after the meal

I always thought it was weird when my dad split his bread in half and cleaned his plate with it. 

Do you eat your bread before or after a meal? If you’re from the United States, odds are, you probably eat it before your meal. Normal right? Well, let me be the first to tell you that eating your bread in Italy before a meal is not normal at all. The only time bread is brought out before the meal at an Italian restaurant is when they sense that you’re American. They know we eat bread in America before our meal. So, when this happens, ONLY eat your bread after you finished your meal. Who would have thought my dad was right all along? Use that bun, hun and clean your plate with it. 

3) Eat the salad after the meal, too

I used to hate salad, then my grandmother wouldn’t let me leave the table until I finished my salad. 

I love salad, y’all. Put some ranch on it, or vinaigrette and I’m officially in my happy place. I think, for the most part, salad is something you order separately here. I am not 100% sure about this, yet, but I’ll make sure to edit this post when I have more information. 

Depending on the restaurant, salad is either ordered separately or included with the meal. However way it gets to you, we normally eat it before our meal, right? Yes, we sure do. 

NOT IN ITALY THOUGH. Apparently, foods we like to eat before a meal is often eaten after the meal. Since salad is so refreshing, it makes sense to be eaten after a meal to clean your palate, as well as your breath ;) and before I forget, say goodbye to your ranch, vinaigrette, and thousand island dressing… you only get either no dressing, oil or vinegar. 

4) Carbonated (“fizz”) water VS natural

One of my best friends hate carbonated drinks. 

I don’t blame him. However, if he failed to communicate it here, he would be drinking carbonated/sparkling/fizzy H2O. Italians drink fizzy water. Don’t ask me why because seriously, it does not help quench your thirst. When ordering water in an Italian restaurant, make sure you communicate with the waiters and waitresses as best as you can that you want “natural” water or sound like a child and say, “no fizz” water. 

5) The Cappuccino Rule and Espressos are for... 

Italy is VERY PROUD of their coffee and often make fun of places such as Starbucks and you can’t really blame them.

In Italy, Cappuccinos are only for breakfast. You should order a cappuccino with a croissant and thank me later. Most of us love to sip our coffees, but when you’re in Italy, especially with a cappuccino in hand… always remember to never sip during a meal. Also, espressos here are shots, so take a shot like you would tequila.