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Italian Food Words

Also see the Italian Culture Page's section on Restaurants (how to order, etc.)

Bibite (Drinks)

Coffee words are in the Italian Culture Page's Bars and Cafes section
  • da bere? = to drink?
  • acqua frizzante/con gas = fizzy mineral water
  • acqua naturale/senza gas = still mineral water
  • vino = wine
  • vino da tavola = table wine
  • vino da casa = house wine
  • bianco/rosso/rosa = white/red/rosé
  • dolce = sweet
  • limoncello (or limoncino) = lemon liquor
  • grappa = grape liquor (made from the skins of wine grapes)

Descrizione (Description)

  • crudo = uncooked
  • cotto = cooked (e.g. ben cotto = well done, poco cotto = rare...or also al sangue "bloody"; medio = medium)
  • dolce = sweet
  • amaro = bitter
  • sale = salty
  • piccante = hot/spicy
  • al forno = in the oven
  • alla brace = grilled
  • marinato = marinated
  • al spiedo = rotisserie (or spiedini = skewered)
  • fresca = fresh

Cucina (Kitchen)

  • olio (d'olivo) = (olive) oil
  • aceto (balsamico) = (balsamic) vinegar

Verdure (Vegetables)

  • funghi = mushrooms
  • pomodoro/i = tomato(es)
    • San Marzano = long, oblong (longer than "Roma" you find in the States), the most famous in Naples, from the slopes of Vesuvius, good for pizza sauce
    • Sorrentino = large, speckled with green even when ripe, from Sorrento, good for insalata caprese (see below)
    • datterino = "date" tomato, tiny and very sweet, from Sicily, good as side dishes
  • melanzane = eggplants (aubergines)
  • peperoni = peppers (not the spicy sausage US pizza topping!)
  • fichi = figs
  • aglio = garlic
  • cipolle = onions
  • basilico = basil
  • zuchini = "courgettes" for our UK friends
  • Funny-Looking Italian Veggies
    • rucola = arugula (rocket)
    • friarielle/rapini = broccoli rabe (bitter, a bit like collared greens, popular in Campania, often mixed with sausage)
    • finocchio = fennel (looks like onion, tastes like licorice)
    • fave = fava beans (big green beans, can be eaten raw or sauteed)
    • broccoletti = relative of cabbage family, blue-green leaves
    • scarola riccia = curly endive (frizzy look)
    • indivia = endive

Pasta

There are thousands of varieties (just go to an Italian grocery store or check out the Wikipedia Pasta Page) but here are the main popular ones in Campania (The Nibble Glossary and Pasta Recipes Made Easy also have interesting information about many types of pasta):
  • paccheri = big thick tubes (popular in Naples)
  • bucatini = like spaghetti but with a hole in the middle ("little holes")
  • ziti = thin tube pastas, traditionally served at weddings
  • penne = hollow cylinders ("pens")
  • gnocchi = potato dumplings ("wood knots")
  • tagliatelle = thin wide noodles (thinner and wider than fettuccine, "cut things")
  • pappardelle = even wider than tagliatelle
  • farfalle = bowties ("butterflies")
  • orecchiette = tiny, bowl-shaped ("little ears")
  • scialatielli = flat but thick pasta popular on Amalfi coast

Carni (Meats)

  • pollo = chicken
  • manzo = beef
  • maiale = pork
  • tachino = turkey
  • coniglio = rabbit
  • buffala = buffalo
  • prosciutto = salted cured ham
  • pancetta = cured pork belly
  • salsiccia = sausage

Frutti di Mare (Seafood, literally "Fruit of the Sea")

  • pesce = fish (note: easy to confuse with pesca = peach...just remember that fish has a "sh" sound)
  • cozze = mussels
  • vongole = clams
  • gamberi (or gamberetti) = shrimp
  • acciuga (or alice) = anchovy
  • tonno = tuna
  • salmone = salmon
  • pesce spada = swordfish
  • polpo (or polipo) = octopus
  • aragosta = lobster
  • spigola/branzino = seabass
  • seppia = cuttlefish ("black" pasta is often dyed with nero di seppie, or cuttlefish ink)
  • alla pescatora = "fisherman's style," aka with lots of seafood
  • ...also see About.com's list of fish words

Pizza

  • margherita = pizza with tomato sauce, basil, and cheese (either fior di latte or mozzarella)
  • marinara = pizza or sauce with tomatoes, basil, and oregano
  • More pizza words/terms are on the To Eat page

Campania Dishes

  • insalata caprese (sometimes just called "caprese") = "Capri-style salad" of tomatoes and mozzarella (often with basil and olive oil)
  • zeppole = fried dough balls (or zeppoline = small fried dough balls)
  • arancini = fried rice balls (often colored orange or red)
  • crocché/crochette = fried potato balls
  • zucchini alla scapece = zucchini marinated with vinegar, garlic, and mint
  • frittura napoletana = "Neapolitan fried stuff," like zeppolini, arancini, crocché, fried anchovies, fried zucchini...
  • gnocchi alla sorrentina = "Sorrento-style potato dumplings," with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil (like a pizza margherita made into pasta!)
  • pasta e fagioli = a kind of bean soup, pronounced in Neapolitan something like "pasta fazzo" (like in "When the stars make you drool...")
  • ragù = a world apart from the brand in the states: in Naples, it's a slow-cooked, rich meat sauce
  • ragù genovese = "Genoa-style," which for some reason means with lots of onions—it tastes like pot roast!
  • torta caprese = a "Capri-style" cake, which is fairly dry, made with almonds and chocolate—a bit like a brownie
  • acqua pazza = "crazy water," a stew of mixed seafood

Utensils

  • piatto = plate
  • forchetta = fork
  • cutello = knife
  • cuchiaio = spoon
  • bicchiere = cup/glass
For other food words, see the Italian Food Forever Glossary.
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