Eating in Italy Questions

Old Sep 10th, 2004, 05:57 PM
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Fairhope
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Eating in Italy Questions

A bottle of local wine is how many glasses?
A pizza is how many servings?
Aren't there different kinds of water? mineral & sparkling--which is what?. I can order inside and sit outside? There is always a cover included? You can arrive before 7 without reservations and get in line? I need to ask for the bill? Thanks in advance for your answers!
 
Old Sep 10th, 2004, 06:13 PM
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Depends upon how big the glasses are -- normally 4 per bottle. If you order a liter of wine, more than 4 glasses.

Pizza? Depends upon how big the pizza is.

There is tap water, bottled water with and without gas.

Order inside, sit inside

Order outside, sit outside

Cover? Depends upon the restaurant

Arrive before 7 and get a table? Most require reservations. Possible if restaurant is not full. Most restaurants, people go about 8 and spend the evening eating. No turnover like in America.

Yes, you need to ask for the bill.

Have a great trip.
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Old Sep 10th, 2004, 06:16 PM
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Number of glasses depends on the glass and how full you fill them -- average 5 to 6.
A pizza serves one hungry person or twelve anorexics. What more can I say?
Water has "gas" or "no gas", you may call it "sensa gas" if you don't want bubbles.
Many places charge different prices for eating inside and outside. I'm not sure where you would order inside then eat it outside.
Cover is generally supposed to be forbidden now, but it is often still there. It is usually just a euro or so per person, so nothing to get upset about.
Depending on the restaurant, you may never need reservations, or maybe you can't get in even when they open without them as they will be booked for the evening. Unlike the US where they try to schedule several seatings, in Italy they often book each table only once per night.
Yes, you must ask for the bill, otherwise you will be sitting there in the dark after they close the place down. Nobody will bring you a bill until you specifically ask for it. If the waiter asks if there is anything else you want and you say "no", that is not the same as asking for the bill.
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Old Sep 10th, 2004, 06:23 PM
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Just to add to Budman's post:

If you don't want a full bottle of wine, in most restaurants you can order a 1/4 liter of the house wine (2 smallish glasses). Also, we have spent a total of almost 4 weeks in Italy, and we've made two dinner reservations, although we tend to eat at the less expensive places. Most restaurants don't open until 7, although you may find some in the touristy areas opening earlier. You generally won't find as good a value there, but the people watching in the big piazzas can be fun.
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Old Sep 11th, 2004, 06:04 AM
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Hi fair,

Pzzas are usually meant for one person. For the best pizza, be sure that they have a proper wood or gas fired oven.

If you know of a restaurant that you really want to have dinner at, make reservations in the morning or afternoon.

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Old Sep 11th, 2004, 06:41 AM
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A bottle of local wine is how many glasses?
A "bottle" of wine in Italy is the same size as in the States (750 ml). You may also order house wine by the quarter liter, half liter, and liter at most restaurants in Italy.

A pizza is how many servings?
Most pizzas are all the same size here in Italy and they are usually meant for 1 person.

Aren't there different kinds of water? mineral & sparkling--which is what?
Yes there are different kinds of water. There is "naturale" or "non gassata" (no gas) and "frizzante" or "gassata" (with gas).

I can order inside and sit outside?
At bars, you can order coffee, brioche, sandwiches, etc inside and sit outside. It really depends what restaurant or bar you are at.

There is always a cover included?
Usually there is a cover of about 1.50-3.00 euro per person at restaurants. Not at bars.

You can arrive before 7 without reservations and get in line?
Restaurants usually open at 7:30 in the north and later in the south for dinner. In florence, rome, venice, you will find there are some restaurants open earlier for tourists. Depends on the restuarant whether you need reservations.

I need to ask for the bill?
Yes, you will need to ask for the bill. There will be no waiters hounding you with, "How ya doin over here? Can I bring you your bill now?" The waiters don't make their money off of turning tables here in Europe.
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Old Sep 11th, 2004, 06:50 AM
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In general, a pizza is for one person. That is, each person gets a different pizza. It amounts to a lot more than the two slices of a big pizza that you might each in the US, but it's not like eating a whole "medium" pizza in the US. There may be places where a big pizza is shared by a table as we do in the US, but I didn't see that.

Bottled water is generally mineral water. Some of it is frizzante (bubbly, fizzy) and some is just plain (naturale). (This is confusing, since the frizzante is often naturally bubbly, and not artificially carbonated.) You can also just get a pitcher of plain tap water.

Usually you need to ask for the bill. The waiters don't usually rush you out as they do in the US. (However, in Stresa, when I asked for the bill (in three places, in clear, understandable Italian), the waiter or waitress nodded and then didn't move. So the culture in that town must be different.)
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Old Sep 11th, 2004, 06:52 AM
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If you order water it WILL automatically be frizzante unless you state otherwise. The house wines seemed to have a lower alcohol content so you can drink many liters.
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Old Sep 11th, 2004, 06:54 AM
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I like to tip good service. What will the bill say so I know the waiter is taken care of (my mother is an 81 yr old waitress and will haunt me if I don't tip properly)
 
Old Sep 11th, 2004, 06:56 AM
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I admire people who are able to get a pitcher of plain tap water in an Italian restaurant. It is easy in France, but seems impossible in Italy. I can't tell you how many times I've asked, and known they understood, but still they bring bottled water, sometimes saying "our plain water isn't good" which is silly since we are in the middle of Rome. Yes, I've used all the correct phrases, so it isn't a matter of language. In a couple of cases, in fact, since I've asked for plain tap water and they brought me bottled instead, they have actually not charged me for the water. Many places simply don't believe in serving tap water.
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Old Sep 11th, 2004, 07:00 AM
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Patrick's statement regarding restaurant seating and bills is absolutely true and it speaks to the different approach in Europe compared to America. There, it is not assumed you're ready to pay the bill and leave when you say you don't want anything else. If you don't ask for the bill, you will NEVER get one. They'll probably start mopping the floor and turn to glare at you every so often.
They will not rush you out the door because the table is yours the whole evening if you want it that long. A typical American restaurant is the opposite.
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Old Sep 11th, 2004, 07:05 AM
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Patrick: Sometimes when you ask for tap water it will be served in a recylced mineral water bottle, instead of in a pitcher. so maybe you really did get tap water.

P.S. I'm going to post a question to you on that Turkey, if I can find it. thread
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Old Sep 11th, 2004, 07:10 AM
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kybourbon, I have never heard that it will "automatically" be frizzante. I am always asked by the waiter which type of water I want.

Fairhope, there is no need to tip. In fact, it is kind of a disservice to us Americans who live here. Italians don't tip, and yet the waiters in the large tourist cities almost expect the Americans to tip, but not the Italians. The waiters here in Italy do not make their living off of tips, like in the States. So save your tip money for the waiters in the States who need it.

I agree with Patrick about the water...I have never seen waiters serve tap water here in Italy. I have never seen it requested either with the people I dine with here.
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Old Sep 11th, 2004, 07:57 AM
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The SlowTrav website http://www.slowtrav.com/ has some great information on Italy in general, and about food and restaurants/cafes in Italy. click here for the Italy page with selections concerning many items: http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/

--Marv

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Old Sep 11th, 2004, 08:00 AM
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Hi Fairhope,

>I like to tip good service. What will the bill say so I know the waiter is taken care of...

Your bill includes a service charge of about 15%. This is not a tip. It is how the owner pays the staff.

If you wish to leave extra for good service 1-2 E left on the table is the usual practice.

Tips added to the CC charge are legally the property of the owner, not the waiter.
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Old Sep 11th, 2004, 08:04 AM
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cmt, I know that again in France they often serve tap water in recycled bottles (even pre-chilled in those pretty blue water bottles), but not in Italy. I'm trying to think, in fact, if I've ever even seen them bring the water to the table in Italy preopened. They normally stand there at the table and open it for the first time. Maybe somewhere it is possible to get tap water in Italy, I'm just saying it hasn't been for me, more than a time or two.
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Old Sep 11th, 2004, 08:44 AM
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I think it probably depends on the type of place, and where, and on the quirks of management. I don't always ask for tap water. But I have asked for it, and received it, and lived to tell about it.
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Old Sep 11th, 2004, 11:00 PM
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I did ask a local Italian about drinking tap water. She thought for a moment, said it would probably be OK, but then added that she had never tried it! (I stuck with bottled water.)
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Old Sep 12th, 2004, 01:59 AM
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Whoa, there's some disinformation floating around here. I can speak from the experience of living 14 years in Italy and travelling widely, though never south of Rome so far.

Wine: As stated, you can almost always get a house wine by the 1/4 or 1/2 litre. In many places it will be a decent though not stellar local wine, in others it will be something completely unrelated to the area which they happen to get cheap. Personally, I'd try something local, even if you have to buy a whole bottle - local wines are part of the food experience in Italy.

The house wine does not necessarily have a lower alcohol content. It has whatever alcohol content is normal for that type of wine.

A pizza is the size of a 12-14" plate, and is just about right for one hungry person to eat. It's thin crust with a thin layer of tomato sauce and mozzarella (usually) plus whatever else you order on it - it is only a very distant relation to the huge thick globby thing they call pizza in the US and, for my money, the Italian version is a lot better!

Water: Gassata (gazzata) or frizzante has bubbles, naturale or non-gassata does not. You can really insist on tap water if you want, but, to the Italian palate, in most places it just doesn't taste good (though it is perfectly safe to drink). Among other things, tap water in most parts of Italy is very hard with calcium. Italians drink bottled water because they prefer the taste, not because the restaurants are looking for an excuse to make you pay more. In some mountain locales where the local water is very good, they serve that in carafes.

No, gassata is not the default choice unless for some reason your waiter has preconceived notions about foreigners. The Italian population splits pretty evenly on the gas or no-gas preference, so why would any waiter assume otherwise?

Eating inside or outside - Except maybe in some very touristy places, it's more a question, at bars, of whether you eat/drink standing at the counter or are served at a table (indoors or out). Bars do care about rapid turnover, so they charge you more for table service and space.

Most restaurants charge coperta, a minimal (1-3 euro) cover charge which includes the cost of bread, table settings, etc. Most do not charge for service (though I'm sure it's built into the cost of the meal), and Italians tip only minimally. Waiting tables is actually a trained and valued job in Italy, and waiters make decent salaries. Of course they do appreciate any tip you leave but, unless you're spending more than 50 euros a head on a meal, a tip of more than 5 euros is extravagant. I usually leave 1-2 euros plus whatever loose change I want to get rid of. (NB: In the US I tip very well - many of my friends got through college on tips!)

Getting the bill in an Italian restaurant can actually be an ordeal. I don't know why, but it can take forever - maybe because only the restaurant owner has access to the cash register, and he/she may be busy chatting with regular customers.


best regards,
Deirdré Straughan

http://www.straughan.com

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Old Sep 12th, 2004, 05:46 AM
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Twice in Rome, we had waiters present us with the bill and then say "tip is extra". These were both places which obviously had many tourists, including Da Giggetto, a place I would otherwise recommend. In one of these places, near the Vatican, the waiter stood and watched us take out our money, making me feel very uncomfortable. He then presented us with a coupon for a discount on a future meal there. As if!
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