You can't possibly go on holiday in Italy without tasting the country's delicious regional specialties! Although food is almost always wonderful anywhere you eat in Italy, there are a number of restaurants where the cuisine is so spectacular that you're likely to remember it for as long as you live!
On this page we've put together a list of our favorite restaurants, the ones we eat in when we are travelling around Italy on business of pleasure. From Michelin restaurants to market stalls. Because in Italy the important thing is that the food is genuine and cooked with love.
Eating out, Italian style
Like to dawdle over breakfast? Enjoy the "full English"? That just isn't the Italian way to start the day. For an Italian "la prima colazione" - the first meal - is a quick sugar fix - perhaps one of those amazing pastries - plus a caffeine kick - a shot of espresso or a cappuccino - taken at one of the many bars. Capuccino, which the Italians have no later than 10.00 a.m., is a large, frothy, milky coffee topped with cocoa powder.
Trattoria/ Osteria? Pizzeria? Ristorante?
Once upon a time the different categories of Italian eating places were clearly defined.
For inexpensive, no frills, traditional family food and house wine you would choose a Trattoria.
In an Osteria you would find cold cuts and a better quality wine.
For pizza you went to a pizzeria.
And you patronized a ristorante if you were smartly dressed and up for a meal of, at least, three courses.
Today, the marked distinctions between each type of eating place have blurred. - Trattorias have extensive wine lists, and in Osterias you will find interesting, modern cuisine. The most upmarket ristorante will be happy to present just two courses.
Unlike breakfast, lunch is the main event in Italy. Restaurants usually have very long lunch periods, beginning at 12.30p.m. Dinner, except in busy tourist areas, is rarely served before 20.00 - and continues, especially in the South, well into the night.
In Italy it is traditional to begin the meal with a starter, "antipaso", and follow with a pasta or rice dish, a "primo", then to have a "secondo" of meat or fish, (if you would like vegetables remember to order these in addition). To finish: a delectable "dolce", or dessert.
To tip or not to tip?
You do not have to tip. In Italy, the "corperto", or service charge is, in most cases, included in your bill. It's up to you.
By law, a receipt should always be issued when you pay.
Bringing the kids?
The Italians' love of children is legendary. You and your youngsters will be enthusiastically welcomed.
But don"t expect the place itself to be child friendly. Check ahead if you need facilities - high chair, special meals etc.
Meals on the run are part of the Italian street scene - stalls with inexpensive, just made, pizza, panini, chestnuts, fried delicacies abound.
Need a filled roll? Call into the grocers, "alimentari", and have them make you up a fresh one.