Italian Menus

Sep 17th, 2002, 03:31 PM
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Italian Menus

Hi, We will be in Tuscany for 5 days and
I was wondering are all the menus in Italian only? I've been brushing up on my Italian but
wondering if thats enough to know what I'm eating.
Sep 17th, 2002, 04:13 PM
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We just returned from two weeks in Italy. Unless you are going off the beaten track, you'll probably have a waiter/waitress that speaks enough English to provide menu help.

In the major cities, Florence/Rome etc., they may even have Italian and English on the menus.
Sep 17th, 2002, 05:12 PM
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I would recommend knowing enough to read Italian-only menus. Multi-language places may lack the charm and value of Italian-only places.
Sep 17th, 2002, 05:59 PM
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We encountered two restaurants in Rome that had separate English and Italian menus. But in both cases the English menu had only a fraction of the variety on the Italian menu. For better or worse we look like American tourists from a mile away, so were always handed the English menu - but we'd been brushing up on our "menu" Italian, so always asked for the Italian menu as well. You can get small books that translate menu terms - we had one and found it invaluable.
Sep 17th, 2002, 06:49 PM
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Dorothy, Go to and look at their menu translation guide--it will help you understand the courses.
Sep 18th, 2002, 02:35 AM
Alice Twain
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I strongly invite you to eat only at restaurants which have only Italian only menus. Multilingual menus usually are found in tourists-only restaurants, places that offer food made for th foreigners visiting Italy and which often have little knowledge of the Italian cuisine and therefore will eat "anything" that looks Italian enough. These places offer opnly tourists food, wich has little to do with true Italian food. For instance, tagliata con rucola, which some tourists belive is a typical Tuscan food, was actually a recipe created in order to satisfy the taste of Japanese tourists.
Sep 18th, 2002, 03:55 AM
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I took a small dictionary with me in which a special 'restaurant' section. And we found the waiters to be very helpful to describe the ingredients of their dishes.
Sep 18th, 2002, 05:49 AM
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I agree with the above that a list of terms & translation is the best thing to have. Such pages are pretty readily available. Learn to recognize your favorites and the ones you simply CANNOT stand. And go with the flow. Our best meals were at restaurants where we simply listened to the advice of the waiter and dispensed with menus altogether. We never were disappointed.
Sep 19th, 2002, 03:52 AM
Alice Twain
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Another bgood technique is to pay attention at what the Italian people sitting at the same restaurant are eating and ask the same thing if it looks nice. I did it in Greece with great success ^_^
Sep 19th, 2002, 05:32 AM
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Ignore Alice Twain. Many fine restaurants NOT geared for tourists have the sense to print English versions of their menus these days. It has nothing to do with being a "tourist" place. Do not be put off by a restaurant which also has their menu printed in English!
Sep 20th, 2002, 04:35 AM
Alice Twain
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I do not know whaere are you writing from, where you live and where have you found in italy any quality restaurant with the menu translated in English, but I live in Italy and I go to restaurants pretty often (also belonging to a community whose main interest is food, cooking and eating out) and I have never found one quality restaurant with a menu printed in English too.
Sep 20th, 2002, 07:26 AM
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Hi Dorothy! We brought and Italian-English phrasebook that had a good section on food. I complemented it with a 'cheat sheet' that I prepared from various websites. You can also get a menu master. When restaurant owners would see me looking at my 'cheat sheet' they would come over and try to help with the translations. It worked!
Sep 20th, 2002, 08:44 AM
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Here's my rule of thumb-if you are OFFERED a foreign language menu right off the bat, the food probably won't be great. If you have to ask for one, mo worries. Every restaurant I ate at that had a printed menu had at least one translated into English(as well as a few other languages) and I wasn't stopping in tourist dives. I had dinner at the "best" retaurant in Parma, where I never even saw another English-speaking tourist, and they still had an English menu. My first dinner in Rome was at Uno e Bino, a "foodie" place very well reviewed by all of the food magazines(Gourmet, Food & Wine, Time Out). They obviously don't get many tourists, as they had only one menu in english and I had to share it with my boyfriend.

I think the places to avoid have all of the translations on one page, ie.
Spaghetti al pomodoro
Pasta with tomato sauce
Spaghetti avec une sauce des tomates...
You get the idea.

I used the menu translations in my TimeOut Rome guide, and made sure to memorize the name sof organ meats, which I don't eat. If you speak any Romance language, I don't think you will have too much difficulty with any menus you might run across. Do keep in mind ta translations are into British English. I saw a salami appetizer translated as dried bangers--not too tasty sounding.

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