What to Know When Going to an Italian Restaurant

Italian cuisine is famous all around the world. The aroma of freshly baked pizza, the taste of pasta cooked to perfection, and the exquisite flavors of its unique cuisine are enough to tempt anyone's taste buds. If you are heading to an Italian restaurant but have no idea about the customs and norms, don't worry; this article will delve into things you should know before visiting an Italian restaurant to ensure you have the best dining experience.

Dress Code

Before heading out to an Italian restaurant, you need to ensure you're dressed appropriately. Dressing up isn't necessary, but smart casual attire is recommended. Avoid wearing shorts, flip-flops, and sweatpants. Italians consider dressing well a sign of respect for others and the restaurant.

Know Your Courses

Traditional Italian meals include an antipasto, primo, secondo, contorno, and dolce. Antipasto is the appetizer course, while primo is the first course or pasta course. Secondo is the main meat or fish course, while contorno is the vegetable course served on the side. Finally, dolce is the dessert course. Decide what you want to eat beforehand and know the course's sequence so that you don't order the wrong food.


Wine is an integral part of the Italian dining experience, and it's advisable to pair food with the right wine. The waiter can suggest the appropriate wine for your meal. If you're not a wine enthusiast, still order a glass of water. Italians serve water at room temperature, so don't expect ice.

No Substitutions or Alterations

In Italy, chefs work hard to create a perfect balance of flavor, and dish alterations are not encouraged. It's not advisable to request specific alterations to the menu. For instance, if you want your pasta cooked longer or with specific sauces, it may be challenging for the chef to accommodate your request. Trust the chef and order the dish the way it is prepared.

Table Manners

Standing while eating, playing with your cutlery, or speaking too loud in an Italian restaurant is considered impolite. Italians consider dining as a social event where people communicate and bond over food and wine. Therefore, wait for everyone at the table to eat their meal before finishing. Also, avoid asking for condiments such as ketchup or hot sauce, as Italians do not usually use them.

Eating at an Italian restaurant can be a delightful experience if you know what to expect. Knowing about Italian dining etiquette, dress codes, courses, wines, and table manners will enhance your dining pleasure. Remember to savor every bite, embrace the traditions and customs, and enjoy the company of those around you while indulging in the heavenly taste of Italian cuisine.

Check out a local Italian restaurant for more info.