Trattoria, Bistro, Osteria, Ristorante, Pasticceria, …choices, choices. So, faced with so many names, how does one decide where to assuage hunger and thirst? Let us continue in our Italian Odyssey.
The least formal of all eating places that offer you food in Italy is the Osteria. It sometimes is run by a family and offers you a place at the common table, shared with other guests. The food is always fresh, prepared from the local ingredients and often there is no menu: the owner of a waiter tells you what is served today and you choose from it.
It serves wines, often produced by the owners (‘produzione propria‘), brought to the table is carafe rather than a bottle. Recently there is a new trend to make the osterie more attractive by using a modern design or hosting ‘aperitivo‘ in late afternoons.
Next best is the Trattoria. Less formal than a restaurant more formal then osteria. It always serves local food but the main focus is on wines. The food is always simple, the choice is limited and the customers are in major part locals. It has been always an important place forthe meetings of the residents and a common space for exchanging the ideas and gossips.
The Ristorante, restaurant to the uninitiated, offers a huge variety of the formality here. There are exclusive restaurants that serve a high quality, expensive food but there are also those less expensive and well connected with the area. It is true especially in Italy where many people visit a restaurant with their families, friends and colleagues. It is worth checking with the locals which restaurant is good but if you can’t do it just pass the restaurant in the evening and judge it out of the number of cars parked in front of it. If the restaurant is not in the city centre, next to the famous touristic spots, this strategy works just fine. Especially in the countryside: good restaurants are always full of locals!
Pssst! I know that there’s a lot of people who love sweets thus I would strongly encourage you to visit bar or pasticceria in the morning. The best place to start a day in Italy is the one that bakes their sweets in situ, in their backyard. Fresh, warm sweet brioche with or without crema in the morning will lift your spirit and the espresso intenso to go with it packs a true punch. Truly, size does not matter here as these small ambrosial tributes will make the dullest day, shine.