Italian Food in Italy

It’s like going to Philadelphia and ordering a “Philly cheese-steak” or asking for “French Fries” in Belgium. There are just certain things you shouldn’t do when ordering Italian food in Italy. They take their Italian food very, very seriously – from where you eat it to how you eat it and when. Ordering the wrong thing can be tantamount to a crime and cause people to gasp or shake their heads in disapproval. Nothing says “Hey I’m a tourist!” like ordering the wrong thing, the wrong way.

I’ve been here for almost a week now and everyday I’m learning more and more about the Italian food I’ve loved all my life.

Italian food

Learn from these  common mistakes and you’ll be less likely to get your knuckles rapped in an Italian trattoria.

Ordering “Spaghetti Bolognese” | Italian food

Italian food

No such thing.  The meat sauce you love is Bolognese Ragu and (thank goodness) it exists, but no Italian who doesn’t want to face ridicule would order it with spaghetti. Certain pastas are paired with certain sauces in Italy and I’m told if you’ve got a Ragu, penne or tagliatelle is the way to go.  Save your spaghetti for carbonara.

Asking for Italian Wedding Soup | Italian food

Again, no Italian food by that name exists here.  Never did. The closest thing to what North Americans are thinking of is a dish by the name of “minestra mariata” which literally translates to “married soup.” The whole thing about brides and grooms getting it ahead of their wedding night for some extra…errr…vigor… is nothing but rumour. The “marriage” refers to its ingredients (meat and vegetables) and how well they go together.

Eating pineapple on your pizza | Italian food


Italian food

Order it that way in a proper Italian pizzeria and you risk getting your cheeks pinched. Fruit is good – just not on your pizza. In fact, if you are in a restaurant where “Hawaiian pizza” is on the menu, you’re in the wrong restaurant. Margherita will win you the most brownie points but you can get away with other traditional toppings. This doesn’t mean you don’t have plenty of options. The menu at Be Bop in Milan had about two dozen options spread over two pages and not a fruit to be seen.


Ordering a Latte | Italian food


Italian food


“Latte” means milk in Italian. If you want a tall glass of that by all means sidle up to the counter and ask, but if what you’re looking for is coffee, you’ve got a few options. Some of the more popular ones:

Caffe – Literally translates to “coffee” but means “espresso.” YOu’ll get a tiny cup with some strong contents.

Cappuccino – Just like the one you know at home, but order it after late morning and they’ll know you’re a tourist. It’s strictly a morning drink here.

Caffe machiatto –  small espresso with a bit of steamed milk on top (like a mini latte at home)

Latte machiatto – bigger cup, steamed milk with a “stain” of coffee (i.e. mostly milk)

Disclosure: My trip to Italy is a part of the #Blog Ville campaign, managed by iambassador in partnership with the Emilia-Romagna tourism board and the Regione Lombardia.
As always, Globetrotting Mama maintains full editorial control of any and all content published on this site.