Common American restaurant request that irritates Italian servers

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Image credit: Explore

Italian food ranks highly among American favorites, holding the third spot on the list of popular “ethnic cuisines” according to a study by Chef’s Pencil. Whether it’s pizza, pasta, or risotto, Italian cuisine is widely beloved. However, there’s a common mistake U.S. diners make that’s frowned upon in Italy: asking for substitutions or changes to a dish. This practice, often considered an insult to the chef’s expertise, is a big no-no in Italian dining.

In Italy, requesting to alter a dish is akin to someone rearranging your home decor as soon as they walk in—it’s disrespectful. Italian chefs prepare dishes based on culinary traditions, seasonality, and availability, ensuring the meal tastes its best. Altering ingredients can diminish the intended flavors and overall experience.

The only exception to this rule is for severe allergies, where diners can ask the restaurant staff if accommodations can be made.

Italian dining also has other quirks. For instance, some dishes common in the U.S., like spaghetti with meatballs, aren’t typically found in Italy and might invite quiet judgment from your waiter. Instead, it’s best to embrace local meals with fresh ingredients.

Moreover, pairing the wrong drink with your meal is another faux pas. Italians reserve cocktails like spritz for aperitivo before the main meal, and cappuccinos are strictly for breakfast. Ordering a cappuccino after lunch or dinner might result in being ignored or gently mocked by the waiter.

Other dining don’ts in Italy include:

  • Never add cheese to seafood pasta.
  • Avoid asking for a spoon with spaghetti.
  • Don’t request tap water; bottled is the norm.
  • Skip asking for extra sauce for your pizza crust.
  • Be mindful of regional specialties and order accordingly.

By respecting these traditions, you can better enjoy and appreciate the authentic Italian dining experience.

Re-reported from the article originally published in Explore.

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