• Samantha

Where to Eat in Italy

Last summer, as my husband and I were having dinner at our favorite Osteria when an American couple approach the very busy owner for a table. They did not have a reservation (which is not recommended in busy season) and were politely told that the restaurant was fully booked.

Instead of accepting the answer, they demanded that the owner call another restaurant in town to see if they had room. Shocked, the owner politely said he did not have the phone number to the other restaurant, to which the American couple said, "but aren’t you the same "Osteria?"

We had a giggle when we realized that they thought the word "Osteria' was a brand of restaurants and owned by the same people.

So for all of you out there that may make the same mistake, below is a quick overview of the three (3) main types of eateries in Italy. (I say "main" because I am sure some of you out there will tell me there are other variations of names. But this list will get you by.)


This is a full-service restaurant where you will get table service, with waiters and a full meal. Sometimes they can be a bit more elegant, but often they are still reasonably priced compared to back home.

Osteria or Trattoria:

This is a more casual eatery, and our favorite type of place to eat. By "casual" I do not mean Dennys, but "Italian casual" which is still very authentic, comfortable but with style. No one wears PJ’s out in Italy. Osteria's are usually a little less expensive than Ristoranti.

Caffe or Bar:

This is a casual place to grab an espresso or cappuccino or sandwich and light lunch. Do not get confused by the name "Bar". Yes, you can always get a glass of wine or beer, but they are not the same as a North American Bar. The Bar is the first place anyone goes to in the morning for their shot of espresso and cornetto (croissant) and it usually the best place for the evening Aperitivo.

Now….go eat! You are in Italy after all.

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