While visiting Italy you will notice different types of places that offer food: Osterie (Taverns), Trattoria, and Restaurants, and you wonder what is the difference between them.
To tell the truth, today’s differences are not as defined as they were in the past. But generally speaking Trattoria have a more rustic, more homely food, a bit like what you eat at home. The Restaurants should instead be more formal premises with waiters and professional chefs who have more elaborate dishes and consequently a more expensive bill. The Osterie once served only to drink, wine to be exact, and simple dishes that were used only to not drink on an empty stomach.
Today there are many types of osterie some are even more elaborate and elegant than the restaurants themselves. Sometimes places keep the old name for tradition only, even if the cuisine and decor upgraded significantly. While the restaurants may enjoy that status because of their prime location.
I should mention the Pizzerias as well. Initially they served exclusively pizza, but now they all offer a full menu. A good rule of thumb is if the name is Pizzeria-Ristorante it is mainly pizzeria with other food offerings. If it is Ristorante-Pizzeria, than expect a restaurant that also serves pizza. It’s different, and probably also in the service and prices.
Therefore you cannot go by the name only, to be sure to eat well avoid places too close to the main tourist attractions and check the menu well.
How do you say in Italian?
Starter – Antipasto
First plate – Primo piatto
Main plate – Secondo piatto
Vegetables on the side – Contorno
Desert – Il dolce
The bill, please – Il conto, per favore