Italians are famous for their love of leisurely, multi-course meals; while it’s not true that we enjoy three-hour multi-course lunches and dinners every day, we do like to indulge in longer meals on special occasions, weekends and when dining out.
So, if you find yourself in the home of an Italian family during a festivity or head out to dine with Italian friends, here’s a simple language guide to the multi-course Italian meal.
Antipasto / Antipasti – appetizer/s, to be served before pasta; there’s more to antipasto than the classic bruschetta, the possibilities are actually endless and vary according to the Italian region.
Primo / Primi or primo piatto / primi piatti – first plate/s, usually pasta or risotto; you could also have a “bis di primi” or “tris di primi”, where they give you a small portion of two or three different types of pasta so you can sample.
Secondo / Secondi – second plate, usually meat or seafood
Contorno – side dish, usually vegetables
Frutta – fruit; Italians always tend to include fruit in their meals, and it’s eaten at the end, before dessert (although some like to have it after dessert); or, when not eating dessert, Italians often end their meal with fruit.
Dolce – dessert
Caffè – coffee (espresso)
Digestivo - digestif: liqueur, to help with digestion.
Want to create a fabulous multi-course Italian meal? Browse our Recipes section.