Italian Food Places – Osteria, Trattoria or Else?

Planning a trip to Italy?
When you check the recommendation sites or a travel guidebook, you may be confused about the variety of different terms that are used for Italian food places. One good solution is always to come with us on a Food Hopping Food Tour Italy – our guides love to explain the terms with amusing details, and you’ll taste the best local choice!

As a little upfront preparation, here’s a short introduction to Italian food places:

Best known from Italian Food places abroad is the term Pizzeria. When you visit a Pizzeria in Italy, it is usually a modest place where they offer a large selection of pizzas, but usually other dishes, too, often for take-away as well. You can also have a drink and a dessert there – but don’t expect fancy decorations or linen tablecloths.

The same is with the Spaghetteria, they specialize in pasta dishes of all kinds, but also have other dishes on the menu.

A Caffè or Bar is basically the living room of the Italians. Here they eat their (usually frugal) breakfast, read the newspaper, have a chat, watch football, in between always a “caffè” and in the evening the “Aperitivo” drink before dinner. And all this usually standing at the counter, not sitting. They serve several beverages and often also small sweet or salty snacks, even some pasta dishes.

A Vineria or Enoteca is a wine bar, with a wide selection of national and international wines and various snacks. You can expect more knowledge and recommendations about wines here, often they sell the wines to taste there, or also the bottles to take home with you.

The Birreria is like a beer pub, serving drinks, simple dishes and also pizza. It is a popular meeting point, often with loud music, to start a night out.

The Osteria was originally a tavern where you could bring your own food, and buy the drinks from the bartender. Today it is “the inn around the corner”, where there are simple food and abundant drinks at fair prices.

A Rosticceria is rather a kind of snack bar than a restaurant. During regular store opening hours, you get hot and cold – mostly fried or grilled – food for takeway or eat at instance.

The Trattoria is a simple restaurant, serving regional dishes at affordable prices. As well, there is usually a daily menu with choices of four complete courses. It is quite popular to have a business lunch option there, so this places are filled with office workers during lunch time.

A Ristorante is a proper dining place with full menu choice, from antipasti -starters, primo – often pasta – and secondo – the main dish – to dessert, coffee and digestif. This is the place to go for a family celebration or to spoil your partner on a date night…

Salumerias are originally a shop to buy cold cuts, salami, ham and cheese. Today, they often serve tasting platters to eat at the spot, together with some pairing wines – like a delicatessen shop.

A Paninoteca offers a wide selection of so-called “panini caldi”. The hot buns are covered with salami, cheese or ham and garnished with vegetables or salad. In addition, there are also toast -focacce – or “Pizza al taglio” Slices of Pizza with different toppings that they heat up when you order it. A good place for a quick snack on the go.

Following up to the sweet side, a Pasticceria is a pastry shop, where you can usually enjoy a cup of coffee or a hot chocolate and taste the delicious pastries and cakes.

And last but not least there is the Gelateria, the famous ice cream parlor, offering a multitude of different ice creams. The Italian ice cream is considered the best in the world, its production almost as an art and the recipes closely guarded secrets. Usually you order first the desired size of icecream by price at the cashier, and go then with the receipt to the counter to order the tastes you like. In addition, in most gelaterias there is the “granita” – a slushy, wonderfully refreshing sorbet ice drink, flavoured with mint, fresh lemon or fruit sirup.

Did you enjoy this overview of Italian food places?
Come and join one of our Food Hopping Italy Food Tours  – See you soon with Food Hopping!