Heading to Italy to eat Italian food is a bucket list goal for most people. But it turns out that there are certain Italian restaurant faux pas that never quite made it outside Italian borders. Here’s a round up of six things not to do when you’re stuffing your face in an Italian restaurant in Italy.
Ask for parmesan cheese to put on your seafood pasta One of the cardinal rules in traditional Italian cooking – of which most non-Italians are blissfully unaware – is that cheese and seafood don’t mix. Only in recent years have avant garde chefs begun experimenting with this previously taboo blend of ingredients, but sprinkling parmesan cheese on your seafood pasta is still a massive no no. Ask for it, and be prepared for a death stare.
Complain that the pasta is too hard Outside of Italy, pasta is generally boiled to limp, bland death. Inside the boot, pasta is served al dente – firm enough to bite – and if that’s too hard for you, then you aren’t asking for pasta, you’re asking for crap!
Ask where the spaghetti and meatballs are Many “Italian” dishes that have become popular outside of Italy were actually invented in the country where they’re popular. Sometimes these are traditional recipes that have been bastardized to suit the tastes of the culture (I’m looking at you, “Spaghetti Carbonara” and Chicken Parm!) and sometimes these recipes are brand new inventions. Like Italian Wedding Soup. Or Cheesy Seafood Alfredo. Stick to what’s on the menu – that’s the real deal. Hope you like octopus.
Cut your spaghetti with a fork and knife If you haven’t grown up twirling spaghetti with a fork, this might seem like the quickest solution to tackling those slippery strands. But when you’re on Italian turf, keep in mind that this act is on par with spray-painting a mustache on The David.
Expect speedy service One thing Italians love is taking their… sweet… time. Especially when it comes to eating. If you want fast food, go to McDonald’s!
Tip In Italy, as in many countries outside of the ultra tippy United States, waiters are paid a living wage and tipping is not expected. And be careful: some waiters in heavily-touristed cities like Rome and Florence are aware that North Americans tip anything that moves, so don’t let them get cheeky and ask you for a tip.
What are your best tips for dining at an Italian restaurant in Italy?