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Eating and Drinking tips

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Restaurant Types
Traditionaly, a ristorante is the most formal and expensive eatery; a trattoria is a
family-run, moderately priced place; an osteria anything from a simple trattoria to the equivalent of a pub with a few dishes of mixed meats and cheeses along with wine.


The Italian Meal
Italian meals, especially dinner, are drawn-out affaires of two to four hours, followed by an espresso (small, strong coffee) and liqueur (digestivo) such as grappa. Breakfast is traditionally just an espresso or cappuccino (coffee with steamed milk) with a sweetened croissant (cornetto). Many hotels lay out a large breakfast buffe.

AntiPasto (Appetizer)
The appetizer course is traditionally bruschetta in plzzerias (toasted bread rubbed with garlic, olive oil, salt and often topped with tomatoes) and/or cured meats such as prosciutto and salami. And most places have a bufet table of vegetables where you can help yourself.


Primo (First course)
The first course. Pastas Include bucatini all'amatriciana, spaghetti alla carbonara, gnocchi di patate and cacio e pepe. Soups (minestre) include minestrone (vegetable) and straciatella (egg with Parmesan in chicken broth). Risotto (creamy rice is usually cooked with vegetables.


Secondo (Main Course)
The main course. Meats include bistecca or manzo (beef), vitello (veal), angello/abbacehio (mutton/lamb), pollo (chicken), maiale (pork), cinghiale (boar), coniglio (rabbit) and anatra (duck). They are usually grilled (alla griglia) or roasted (arrosto) Flsh include branzino (bass), accioghe (anchovis), baccalà (cod), sogliola (sole), orata (bream), and rombo (turbot). usually grilled, roasted, or all'acqua pazza (simmered in white wine and seasonings).


Dolce (Sweets)
The dessert. Most popular are simple cantucci con vin santo (biscuits with dessert wine) or ice cream such as the tartufo ice cream ball. Custards of milk (panna atta, latte portugese) and egg (crème caramel) are also favourites as is tiramisù (triflc of sponge fingers soaked in espresso and perhaps alcohol and layered with mascarpone cheese and dusted with cocoa).

Wine and Water
No Italian meal is complete without red (rosso) or white (bianco) wine (vino), either a Carafe (un litro) of a half carfe (mezzo litro) of the house wine (vino della casa) or a labeled bootle. Italians temper their wine with water, either fizzy (gassata) or still (non-gassata).


Cover Charges and Tipping
The pane (bread) charge of €1-€4 per person can be avoided, but this won't endear you to the waiters. If the menu says "servizio incluso" service charge is built in, although it is customary to round up by a few coins each. If not, tip a dlscretionary 10 per cent.


Restaurant Etiquette
Jacket and tie are almost never required, although in more up-market places reservations often are. Waiters expect you to finger over your meal, and won't rush you (some mistake this for slow service).


Bars, Pizza Rustica and Tavole Calde
Most Italian bars serve morning cappuccino and cornetto, espresso all day, and apéritifs (aperitivi) in the evening, along with sandwlches (panini), pastries and ice cream (gelato). A tavola calda is a glorified bar/cafeteria with prepared dishes behind a counter. A pizza rustica or pizza a taglio sells pizza by the slice, priced by the etto (100 grams).