The Bread Is Not Free!
A lot of times, sitting down at an Italian restaurant you will be served water and a basket of bread. If you’re from America, you probably assume this is free. It isn’t. You will be charged something called coperto, which is essentially a cover charge or bread and butter charge as some call it. Even if you aren’t served bread you can still be charged coperto simply as a “cover” for sitting down in the restaurant. These charges are not always easy to spot unless you’re looking for them. They are generally around $2 per person. But if you’re somewhere in say, Piazza San Marco like Caffe Florian, your cover charge includes a “live music” charge (even if you’re sitting inside, unable to see) and totals to about $10 per person. If you’re just one person, or perhaps a couple, this fee doesn’t seem that bad. But for a group for 8 to 10 people, you could see how this charge could get out of control.
Come Hungry! There Are Lots Of Courses
I can not tell you how many weird looks my boyfriend and I were given when we sat down and ordered an appetizer and a small pizza to share. Italy is famous for it’s slow dining experiences, sitting down for hours of indulgent food and wine, talking and laughing into the late hours of the night. Don’t get me wrong, I love eating. I love food. But when we sat down next to locals and watched them order an appetizer for the table and then they each ordered their own pasta, meat dish AND PIZZA. We were blown away. Then they proceeded to all order dessert. Italians certainly have a thing or two to teach Americans about enjoying life, they really take their dining experiences to a whole different level.
Take Advantage of the Wine
Ordering wine when dining out at a restaurant in America can get expensive, but in Italy? So affordable. And so necessary. Here, I would probably pay about $8 to $10 on average for a glass of house wine. But in Italy? I found I was able to order a glass of house wine for about 3 Euros. And it’s Italy, you’re not really visiting Italy unless you drink the wine.
If It’s Monday, Call Ahead
Something that we forgot on more than one occasion, is that many businesses and restaurants are closed on Mondays. Unfortunately, we would forget this little morsel of information and hop on the ferry to say Murano or Burano only to find the restaurant we spent an hour searching side streets for was closed. So, moral of the story. When making plans on a Monday – always call ahead.
Try A Cappuccino
I pretty much refuse to drink cappuccinos at home. It’s just a tasteless lump of foam on top of a burnt shot of espresso usually. Obviously this isn’t true everywhere. I live in Washington and Seattle’s coffee game for the most part is pretty on point. But, I’ve found that a good cappuccino is a hard thing to come by. Not in Italy! Almost EVERYWHERE you go will serve cappuccino and pretty much at every hour. Even after dinner, they ask if you’d like a cup of coffee or cappuccino. Every morning I drank two, and then if I was feeling crazy – I had another after dinner. You hardly even need sugar. Italy knows how to do coffee. Coffee and food.
If It Looks American, It’s Not Italian
We noticed that in a lot of more touristy areas there would be the random restaurant that would have a menu that was almost entirely pictures and almost entirely meals that you might see at a Denny’s. There two reasons why you should steer clear of these places. The first being, it’s not Italian fare. And it’s not going to be what you’re expecting. You can’t go to Italy, order American food and expect it to taste just like American food. That’s not how it works. You’re in Italy, order Italian food. The second reason is this, it will be overpriced. Basically, if everything is in English, don’t eat there. If the entire menu is pictures, don’t eat there. If anything on the menu or in the title of the restaurant says “American”, don’t eat there.