At the restaurant and bar/Al ristorante e il bar
Now that we know some key food related words, we can talk about how to order food and drink in restaurants and bars. Note that a bar in Italy is not a pub in the U.S. sense, but rather a business where you can buy coffee, pastries, and panini in addition to wine, liquor, juices, and soft drinks. Given the seemingly unlimited ways you can order the food and drink you want, I’ll try to simplify this process and also present some phrases you may find helpful when you go out to eat. I’ll end the lesson by sharing a link on the 10 commandments of ordering coffee in Italy. Ignore them at your own risk.
Here’s one of many videos on Italian pronunciation:
Keeping it simple
As is often the case when we speak in English, you often don’t have to say a complete sentence in Italian when buying a train ticket, shopping, and ordering food and wine. Just a noun, adjective, and perhaps a number may be all that you need in many situations. So instead of saying: “I would like two glasses of red wine.” Simply saying “two glasses of red wine” will get you that delectable beverage. “I would like a table for two” becomes “a table for two” and so on.
But if you want to use verbs, you can simplify the process by sticking with just one or two commonly used verbs, especially “volere” (to want) and “prendere” (to have, in the context of ordering food and drink)
So for the conjugation of volere:
I would like . . . . . . . . . vorrei
You would like . . . . . . vorresti
S/he would like. . . . . . vorrebbe
We would like. . . . . . . vorremmo
You would like . . . . . . vorreste
They would like . . . . . .vorrebbero
And the conjugation of prendere:
I’ll have . . . . . . . . . . . . . . prendo
You’ll have . . . . . . . . . . . prendi
S/he will have . . . . . . . . . prende
We’ll have . . . . . . . . . . . prendiamo
You’ll have . . . . . . . . . . . prendete
They’ll have . . . . . . . . . . prendono
Keeping it simple part 2
If you wish to use verbs, you can use the examples below as a template when you order food and drink by simply changing the nouns, numbers, and adjectives:
I'll have . . . . . a coffee/half liter of white wine/two scoops of gelato
Prendo . . . . . un caffè/mezzo litro di vino bianco/due gusti di gelato
We’ll have . . . . . two cappuccinos and two croissants/brioches with chocolate
Prendiamo . . . . . due cappuccini e due cornetti con cioccolato
I would like. . . . . one tea, one coffee, and a croissant/brioche with honey
Vorrei un tè, un caffè, e un cornetto con miele
We would like. . . . . a coffee/two glasses of red wine/a beer
Vorremmo un caffè/due bicchieri di vino rosso/una birra
How to make a reservation/Come fare una prenotazione
I would like to make reservation
Vorrei fare una prenotazione/Vorrei prenotare
I would like to reserve a table for two at 8:00 pm tonight
Vorrei prenotare un tavolo per due alle otto per stasera
I would like to book a table for _______ persons in the name of _______
Vorrei prenotare un tavolo per _______ persone in nome di _______
How to order food and beverages/Come ordinare cibo e bevande
Note: there are many YouTube videos on how to read a menu and order food in Italy.
I have booked a table in name of ______________
Ho prenotato un tavolo a nome di ______________
No, we don’t have a reservation
No, non abbiamo prenotato
Do you have a table for _____?
Avete un tavolo per _____?
Is this table free?
È libero questa tavola?
I would like a table for two near the window/on the terrace/outside
Vorrei un tavolo tavolo per due vicino la finestra/sulla terraza/di fuori
I am hungry
I am thirsty
What do you recommend?
Que cosa mi consigli?
I would like to order now
Vorrei ordinare adesso
I would like to try a regional dish
Vorrei provare un piatto regionale
For the first course I’ll have ________, as a second ________, for a side dish ________,
Per primero prendo ________, per secondo ________, per contorno ________
We will order our second course afterwards
Il secondo lo ordiniamo dopo
Can you bring me the wine list?
Puo portarmi la lista dei vini
Can you recommend a wine to go with this dish?
Puo consigliare un vino per questo piatto?
I did not order this.
Non ho ordinate questo.
Is it spicy?
Can you give me some more water?
Posso avere ancora acqua?
I need a napkin/fork/knife
Mi serve un tovagliolo/forchetta/coltello
Where is the bathroom?
Dov’è il bagno?
Is the cover charge included in the price?
Il coperto e compresi nel prezzo?
The food is excellent
Il cibo era ottimo/eccellente
I liked the food
Mi piace il cibo
Compliments to the chef
Complimenti allo chef
A waiter might ask the following when s/he comes to your table:
What would you like?
Vuole qualcosa da mangiare/bere?
Would you like something to eat/drink?
How to pay the bill/Come pagare il conto
The bill, please
Il conto, per favore
Can I pay with a credit card?
Posso pagare con una carta di credito?
I need a receipt
Mi serve lo scontrino
I think there is a mistake
Credo che ci sia un errore
Do I pay at the table or at the cashiers?
Pago a tavola o alla casaa/cassiere?
Vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, and other dietary concerns/Vegetariano, vegano, senza glutine e altre preoccupazioni dietetiche
Note: there are many websites and some books that address food restrictions when traveling in Italy. BTW, you can find gluten free pizza and vegan gelato in the larger cities.
I am/we are vegetarian/vegan
I don’t eat meat/fish
Non mangio carne/pesce
I can’t have/eat . . .
Non posso avere/mangiare . . .
I am allergic to nuts
Sono allergico alle noci
I have allergies to different foods
Sono allergico a diversi cibi
Do you have a menu or dishes for vegetarians/vegans?
Avete un menu o piatti per i vegetariani/vegani?
Do you have any gluten free dishes?
Avete piatti senza glutine?
Do you have any dishes without dairy?
Avete piatti senza latte?
What ingredients does it have?
Che ingredienti contiene?
Does this dish contain cheese/butter/eggs/flour?
Questo piatto contiene formaggio/burro/ uova/farina?
Is it possible to cook this dish without ___________?
È possible preparare questo piatto senza ___________?
Last word on food in Italy/Ultima parola sul cibo in Italia
Ordering coffee in Italy: the 10 commandments