For Italians food and dining is serious business still playing a major role in daily life, whether a long lingering feast with family and friends or an every day lunch. The sommelier and waiter are positions held in high regard and salad is almost always served as a separate course after the main.



In Italy a Ristorante dining experience will be very similar to a restaurant in Australia, where you expect clothed tables, a menu providing multiple choices of 3 or more courses and a good wine list. Food, sourced locally as well as delicacies from further afield with attentive service will be reflected in the price. Expect options to range from good quality to fine dining and Michelin starred.

A Trattoria is more about local ingredients and familiar dishes in a less formal environment. Often run as a family affair with Mum or Grandma behind the hot stove and Dad propped up behind the cash register. Fair to say a little more relaxed and the volume just a little louder. Décor is variable from neat and clean to a less inviting establishment.

An Osteria is closer to a local gathering spot, a little more rustic, often the place to go if you yearn for a truly authentic experience. Expect 3 or 4 good quality simple dishes that change with seasonable produce, commonly for a fixed price including local wine and ordered in litre or half litre jugs.

In a Tavola Calda which literally translated means ‘hot table’ you’ll find fast food to go – eat in or take away and an inexpensive option for a home cooked meal.

Hostaria and Taverna’s were once bars or taverns, more recently transformed into osterie and trattorie, expect a more rustic bohemian style with more emphasis on local wines. 

Botiglieria, Mescita and Fiashetteria’s are all wine shops, bars or taverns. Most offer a variety of panini (small sandwiches) and light nibbles like cheese and olives with a few pasta and meat dishes.

Enoteca’s traditionally served no food, somewhere to stop on the way home or before heading on for a meal. These days most enoteca’s also serve light appetizers.

Rosticceria and Girarrosto are quick service fast food outlets offering high quality fire-roasted chicken and other birds. Usually with an eat in option as well as takeaway.

Stopping by a roadside Piadina, a little caravan, is a must for a snack on the go. A piadina is a simple peasant dish made from flour, lard, water and salt. Its simplicity is part of its appeal, as is its versatility. Delicious with salads, cheese and cured meats from hams to salami.  A piadina has lots of nicknames.

A Pizzaria needs no introduction, you will often find they have just one or two other options as well as a variety of pizza’s on the menu. Eat in or take away.

How did you go?  Sorry, no points awarded for Ristorante or Pizzaria.