Tagliatelle or calzone? We decode your favourite Italian dishes
Open the food menu with confidence next time you dine at an authentic Italian restaurant. From explaining your fettuccine and your linguine, and your antipasti from your primi, this guide will ensure you know exactly what you are ordering. Most of us would have been in a situation where we just didn't understand what we were ordering, but you can become the Italian food connoisseur you've always wanted to be.
Get to know your pasta
The different shapes and sizes of pasta are made for different sauces and dishes, so here is a quick guide to help you next time you are stuck trying to figure out which pasta is which at the restaurant.
|Angel hair||Very fine and delicate long strands||Light sauces|
|Linguine||Long noodle about 6-9mm wide, with an elliptical cross-section||Most sauces|
|Fettuccine (or tagliatelle)||Long flat noodle, wider than linguine||Thick, meat-based sauces|
|Spaghetti||Long, round, thin strands||Nearly any sauce, as well as stir-fry dishes|
|Penne||Small tubes||Thick sauces and baked dishes|
|Rigatoni||Short tubes with ridges||Thick sauces and baked dishes, similar to penne|
|Conchiglie||Small, shell-shaped with open cavity||Soups and most sauces|
|Rotini||Short, spiral-shaped||Pasta salad or most sauces, as it holds bits of meat, vegetables and cheese|
|Farfalle||Bow-tie shaped||Most sauces due to thickness|
|Ravioli||Square or round pillow-like shapes with a filling inside||Red sauces or even butter, oil or cream|
Even bread and pizza have different styles
There may come a time when you decide to order a different pizza to the one you have been getting your whole adult life. When that time comes, you'll want to be prepared. Depending on the restaurant you go to, you may find yourself a little confused by some of the terms used to describe types of pizza and bread. We've explained a few terms used to help build up your pizza-picking confidence.
|Cooked in a wood-burning oven, making for a thin crust with a puffy edge, with a tomato base||Made without a tomato base, usually replaced with oil and garlic||Traditional pizza folded in half|
|Type of flat bread made with yeast and olive oil and usually flavoured with herbs||Round or moon-shaped piece of dough folded with fillings inside, deep-fried||Crispy base, usually with lots of toppings|
Reading the menu
Of course it's good to know your rotini from your fettuccine, but it's also vital that you know whether you are ordering an entrée, main or dessert. Some authentic Italian resaurants tend to write in Italian on their menus, so read on to find out what these words actually mean.
Three meal types:
- Colazione = breakfast
- Pranzo = lunch
- Cena = dinner
|Antipasti||Appetisers such as cured meats and cheeses|
|Primi||Means 'first dishes', such as pasta, risotto and soup or other entrées|
|Secondi||The main dish, which usually involves vegetables, meat or fish|
|Contori||Side dishes such as vegetables, salads and potatoes|
|Dolci||Desserts such as gelato, tiramisu and cannoli|
|Digestivi||Hard liquor used to help digestion, such as grappa and limoncello|