How to Order: From Primo to Dolce

In a Roman sit-down restaurant, whether a ristorante, trattoria, or osteria, you're expected to order at least two courses. It could be a primo (first course, usually pasta or an appetizer) followed by a secondo (second course, really a "main course" in English parlance, usually meat or fish); an antipasto (starter) followed by a primo or secondo; or a secondo and a dolce (dessert). Many people consider a full meal to consist of a primo, a secondo, and a dolce.

If you're not too hungry, try a pizzeria, where it's common to order just one dish. The handiest places for an afternoon snack are bars, caffè, and pizzerie. For a quick lunch or dinner, head to a tavola calda, kind of like a cafeteria where you can order from what's available at the counter and sit and eat at a table.

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