Lesson 11: Ristorante!


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

Ho fame

I am thirsty

Ho sete

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?

È piccante?

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:

Cosa desidera?

What would you like?

Vuole qualcosa da mangiare/bere?

Would you like something to eat/drink?

Sì, prego?

Yes, please?

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

Sono/siamo vegetariano(i)/vegano(i)

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


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