Coming back from Italy, I thought I would share a few things to keep in mind with dining at a trattoria to spare you some of the embarrassment I’ve been through:
1) It’s a four course meal.
A good thing to keep in mind when ordering is that, in Italy, meals are generally articulated around four different dishes: Antipasti (appetizers), Primi piatti (first dish), Secondi piatti (second dish), Dolci (dessert). Unless you’ve climbed the Etna earlier that day, I suggest ordering a Primi piatti as a main course, that way you have room for desert.
2) Don’t ask for a spoon.
I’m sure you’ve heard it before but it’s worth repeating: don’t ask for a spoon to eat your spaghetti. At best you’ll look like an uneducated tourist, at worst you’ll offend the waiter, the chef and the other clients.
3) Have a Limoncello.
It might feel rude for Americans to stay at the restaurant table after the meal is over but in Italy, it’s part of the tradition. Especially if you’re eating at a family-owned trattoria, make sure to ask the owner for a liquor after dinner. My favorite is a lemon one called limoncello. And why not invite the owner to sit down why you and chat?…in Italian of course!