How to Dine in Italy
Our patrons can tell you that Vero Amore takes the utmost pride in serving only the very best in Italian dining. It’s the authenticity of our dishes, like our certified Neapolitan pizza, that keep our customers happy and returning time and time again. But if you ever have the chance to visit our cuisine’s native country, you’ll see that there’s much more to Italian dining than the savory sauces, fine wines, and exquisite pastas. So today we’re making a brief detour from food and drink to look at some finer points of Italian dining etiquette. And you might be surprised by some of what we have to share.
Before You Begin
In the US, it’s widely considered rude to begin eating before others. This is also true in Italy, where buòn appetito, “enjoy your meal” signals that the delicious food you’ve been eyeing is finally fair game. Also remember to keep your hands visible before, during, and after the meal. Hiding them under the table is a sign of disrespect, and like in the US, wrists resting on the table are fine but not elbows.
As in many worldly cuisines, bread accompanies almost every Italian meal. But unlike in the US, bread in Italy is usually served without butter. Instead it usually arrives plain or with a side of seasoned olive oil. In the latter case, you’ll likely receive a plate in which to pour the olive oil and dip the bread. But if your bread is served plain, don’t be surprised to see your fellow diners place their bread directly on the table.
The Language of Cutlery
Though Americans might not spend much time thinking about how they leave their silverware lying in between bites, in Italy one can easily miscommunicate through silverware placement.If you’re unsure which utensils to use, begin with the outermost cutlery and work your way inward with each course. And to signal that you are indeed finished with your meal, place your fork, tines down, and knife parallel to each other and on the right side of the plate (like an analog clock when it reads 3:15). Leaving utensils untouched on your plate for any length of time could result in your plate disappearing out from under your nose. To clearly communicate that you’re still eating, place your utensils down on either side of your dish. Also, most Italians don’t use a spoon to twirl their pasta, unlike what you might often see in the US.
Italian meals can last for hours, but once the festivities near a close, diners will usually go dutch and each pay for their own meals. Or, like in the US, invitees will usually have their meal covered by whomever invited them, even as they politely offer to pay for their own. Americans who have traveled in Europe will know that over-tipping in restaurants is easy to do, and Italy is no different. Tips in restaurants aren’t expected but appreciated, with many diners simply rounding their server’s tip upward to the nearest Euro.
Though a complete account of Italian dining nuance could fill volumes, these tips give you a great start for your next trip to Italy. Or if you’re looking for authenticity a bit closer to home, stop by one of our Vero Amore locations and enjoy our authentic Neapolitan pizza!