In Italy food isn’t just about nourishing the body with enough energy to go about your daily tasks. Eating is considered a social event; an occasion to spend time with friends and family which is savoured and enjoyed, no matter what the time of day.
From espressos in street-side cafes to huge family feasts; eating is the cornerstone of Italian life, so it’s no surprise that Italy is home to some of the most delicious food in the world. Naples is the home of pizza; risotto originated in Piedmont; and cannoli comes from Sicily. Not to mention other favourites such as gelato, biscotti, and tiramisu!
Luckily for us, we don’t have to jump on a plane to sample authentic Italian food as we have some incredible Italian restaurants right on our doorstep. If you’re a fan of Italian food, or know someone who is, then our restaurant gift cards make the perfect gift. The Restaurant Choice gift cards can be used at some of the UK’s most-loved Italian restaurants including Jamie’s Italian, Zizzi, and now, Pizza Hut Restaurants, too!
What is Italian Food?
When you think of Italian food it’s probably pizza, pasta, cheese and meat that springs to mind, and you wouldn’t be far wrong!
Italian cuisine varies from region to region, but generally you’ll find that Southern Italian cuisine is the one that comes to mind first. Southern Italian cuisine incorporates all of those traditionally Italian ingredients such as tomatoes, olive oil, peppers, capers, and sardines. You’re more likely to find lamb as a main course than beef, along with fish and pork dishes. Buffalo mozzerella is also widely used in Southern Italian cuisine due to a high number buffalo being farmed in that area.
The South is also where you’ll find the biggest selection of pasta dishes, with a mind-boggling selection of dried pasta and noodles available. Northern Italian cuisine has been largely influenced by its European neighbours. Expect to find butter more widely used than olive oil, and rice more than pasta. In fact, risotto is one of the most popular rice dishes in Northern Italian cuisine.You’ll also find plenty of polenta, pesto, parmesan and gnocchi. Not forgetting beef, bologna and proscuitto, too.
What are the Italian Food Courses?
Our favourite meal of the day has to be cena. Cena, or dinner, is the time that Italians take to relax with friends and family. For a truly authentic experience when dining at an Italian restaurant, be sure to follow the unwritten rules of eating like an Italian. As they say; When in Rome, do as the Romans do! This could not be truer than when dining in Italy. Whether you’re visiting the country for yourself, or are enjoying a meal out at one of your favourite Italian restaurants, understanding how Italian food courses work can help you enjoy your meal even more.
A traditional Italian dinner typically includes five courses; antipasto, primo piatto, il secondo, contoro, and dolce. Of course, you don’t have to have all five courses, but we’re not one to argue with tradition…
The meal begins with antipasto which is a small serving of savoury bits and pieces such as cured meats or olives. These dishes perk up your palette and prepare your tastebuds for the delicious dishes that are to come.
The second course is the “primo piatto” which translates as “first plate”. This is usually a pasta or risotto dish, or soup if you’re looking for a slightly lighter meal. This is what we might refer to as a starter, or appetiser, so the portions are slightly smaller to allow room for the main course, or il secondo.
The third course, confusingly referred to as “il secondo” is what we consider the main course. The focal point of this course is meat or fish, and the dishes tend to be fairly simple due to the rich pasta or rice dish that came before.
The fourth course is actually a part of the third. The contoro refers to the vegetable dishes which accompany the main meal. Again they are often simple sides, but the complement the main perfectly.
Last, but by no means least, comes il dolce, or the sweet, to finish the meal off. Il dolci is one of our favourite courses and can be anything from a deliciously creamy tiramisu to crisp and crunchy almond biscotti dipped in your coffee. If you spot “torta al cioccolato” then be sure to make sure at least one of your party orders it (along with an extra fork or two). This delectable chocolate cake is simultaneously rich and creamy, dense yet light and smooth; a real must-try for those with a sweet tooth!
Why Choose an Italian Restaurant?
Italian cuisine is always a crowd-pleaser. With such a wide variety of dishes on offer, even the fussiest eater will have no problem finding a dish that they can’t wait to tuck in to.
The cosy atmosphere of most Italian restaurants also makes them the perfect destination for everything from romantic dinner dates to family gatherings. Our Italian restaurant gift cards are the ideal present for a friend who enjoys eating out or perhaps a corporate gift as an incentive or thank you to hard working staff members.
Our restaurant gift cards can be used at hundreds of restaurants up and down the UK. So whether you’re looking for the perfect present for a friend who loves eating out, or perhaps a corporate gift as an incentive or thank you to hard working staff members, you can’t go wrong with Restaurant Choice.
Buy your restaurant vouchers and gift cards online, and have them delivered directly to your door. Give the perfect gift with Restaurant Choice.
BUY A GIFT CARD