Visiting Italy? Follow Caterina for tips on how to order at your favorite Italian restaurant—from the Conversational Italian series of books!
The Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook begins each chapter with a dialogue from a story about the character Caterina, an American girl who travels to Italy to visit her relatives. As the story continues from one chapter to the next, we learn Italian, and about Italy, in an engaging way through Caterina’s experiences.
After Caterina arrives in Italy, she stays with her Italian cousin Pietro and his family in Milan for a while and adapts to Italian life and the Italian language. Then, in the last unit of the book, they all go on a summer vacation together. Caterina and the family stay at a typical northern Italian lake resort in the town of Stresa on Lago Maggiore.
For those travelers who are adventurous enough to try out their Italian on their own visit to Italy, read on for some phrases that will come in handy when ordering at an Italian restaurant. Get started by speaking with the waiter. A delicious meal is soon to follow!
To listen to the dialogue from Chapter 16, when Caterina and her Italian family arrive at an Italian restaurant and begin their wonderful meal together, go to the interactive audio dialogues on our website at learntravelitalian.com/interactive.html.
Below are some expressions that are commonly used when dining in a restaurant.
The io (I) and noi (we) forms of the verbs potere (to be able to/can) and volere (to want) are important to know in this situation, because requests are usually made for oneself or for the entire table.
We revisit the verb “Può?” for a polite way to say, “Could you?” and add “Posso?” for
“May I…?” and “Possiamo?” for “May we…?” to our list of polite phrases to use when making a request.
To the popular “io vorrei…” for “I would like,” we add the conditional plural form, “Noi vorremmo…” for “We would like…” See Chapter 18 of our Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook for the full conjugation of these verbs in the conditional tense.
|…sederci vicino alla finestra?||…sit by the window?|
|…sederci a un’altro tavolo?||…sit at another table?|
|…avere il menù?||…see (have) the menu?|
|Qual’è lo speciale oggi/stasera?||What is the special today/this evening?|
|Qual’è il piatto del giorno?||What is the dish of the day? (English = special of the day)|
|Che cosa ha scelto/avete scelto?||What have you/you all chosen?|
|Vorrei…||I would like…|
|Vorremmo…||We would like…|
|…come antipasto, l’insalata mista.||…for the antipasto, mixed salad.|
|…come primo, le tagliatelle alla bolognese.||…for the first course, tagliatelle with Bolognese meat sauce.|
|…come secondo, l’osso bucco.||…for the second course, braised veal shank.|
|…come dolce, solamente frutta.||…for dessert, only fruit.|
|Non posso mangiare niente…||I cannot eat anything…|
|…fatto con noci/arachidi.||…made with nuts/peanuts.|
|…molto piccante.||…very spicy.|
|Questo è troppo caldo.||This is too hot.|
|Questo è troppo freddo.||This is too cold.|
|Mi può portare…||Could you bring me…|
|Ci può portare…||Could you bring us…|
|…dell’acqua senza gas/naturale?||…some water without gas (natural water)?|
|…dell’acqua con gas/frizzante?||…some sparkling water?|
|…del pane/più pane?||…some bread/more bread?|
|…del sale e pepe?||…some salt and pepper?|
|…un cucchiaio, un coltello, una forchetta?||…a spoon, a knife, a fork?|
|…un tovagliolo?||…a napkin?|
|Cin cin!/Salute!/Alla tua salute!||Cheers! (To your) good health!|
Adapted from Conversational Italian for Travelers, Chapter 16, “Important Phrases – Speaking with the Waiter,” © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC.
Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
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Visiting Italy? Italian Restaurant Tips