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Italian A-Z Food Dictionary


Abbacchio – milk fed lamb; lamb in general
Acciuga; pl. acciughe – anchovies; anchovies
Acerbo – sour; unripe; harsh
Aceto balsamico – balsamic vinegar; the best quality is called ” aceto balsamico tradizionale ”
Acido – sour, acidic; sharp-tasting
Acqua – water; acqua minerale is mineral water
Acquacotta – vegetable soup, usually spiced with peppers and thickened with bread, sometimes containing egg and cheese
Affettati – cold cuds, sliced meats
Affumicato – smoked
Aglio – garlic; aglio e olio, literally, garlic and (olive) oil, a quick sauce for spaghetti of olive oil and sautèed garlic, sometimes with PEPERONCINO and/or parsley
Agnello – lamb
Agnolotti – ravioli – like pasta usually filled with meat
Agro – all’ with olive oil and lemon
Agrumi – citrus fruits
Alici – anchovies often served fresh
Alloro – (foglia di) bay leaf
Amaro – bitter
Amatriciana – all’ (for pasta) with tomatoes, PECORINO and GUANCIALE
Ananas – pineapple
Anatra col pien – venetian stuffed duck
Anguilla – eel
Anguria – watermelon
Anice – anise
Antipasto, Antipastino – appetizer, appetizer course; antipasto all’italiana, prosciutto, salami, and a few pickled vegetables
Aragosta – clawless lobster; rock lobster; (langouste)
Arancia – orange (the fruit)
Aranciata – orange drink, orange soda
Aringa – herring
Armelin – apricot
Arrosticini – skewers of roast sheep meat
Asino, Asina – donkey
Asparagi – asparagus; Asparagi selvatici – wild asparagus
Asprigno – somewhat tart or sour
Assaggio – a taste
Assaggi – little taster or small portions
Azzurro, pesce – “blue fish”, including many of the stronger tasting, darker-fleshed fish, such as TONNO, SGOMBRO, ARINGA, PESCE SPADA, ACCIUGA
Bacaro – Venetian wine shop or wine bar serving an OMBRETA and CICHETI
Baccala’ mantecato – Venetian specialty of boiled STOCCAFISSO beaten with olive ooil into a thick cream
Baccala’ bacala’ – salt cod, except in the northeast, where it is air-dried stockfish (STOCCAFISSO) and salt cod is known as BERTAGNIN
Barbabietola – beets
Basilico – basil
Bavette, Bavettine – pasta similar to Linguine
Ben cotto – well done
Bere – to drink
Bertagnin – salt cod
Bevande – beverages, drinks
Bibita, pl.bibite – beverage, drink
Bicchiere – drinking glass
Bicchierino – paper cup for ice cream
Bietola – Swiss chard
Biroldo – a type of Tuscan sausage with raisins and pine nuts
Birra – beer
Birra rossa or scura – dark beer
Birra chiara – light beer
Biscotti – generic term for cookies
Bocconcino – any bite-sized food, as the word simply means little mouthful; most often used for stewed veal; little fried rolls or balls of veal, ham, and cheese; small oval FIOR DI LATTE cheeses
Bollicine – bubbles, perlage
Bolognese – alla outside Bologna, and especially outside Italy, the tem designates a substantial meat sauce for pasta containing almost no tomato: in Bologna the sauce is known simply as a ragu’
Bordatino – Tuscan soup with corn flour, beans, vegetables, and (possibly) fish
Bosco – woods; wild; misto di bosco, mixed berries
Botte – barrel
Bottega – shop
Bovoleto – snail
Braciola – chop of cutlet, usually pork but also lamb, beef, or game (and even fish)
Brasato – braised beef or pot roast , often al Barolo, that is red wine
Brioche – not usually the French brioche, but generically breakfast pastries; pronounced as in French, Brioche is called also cornetto, because of its shape
Brodo – broth
Bruschetta – toasted bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil, sometimes with the additon of tomatoes or other toppings
Brustolini, Bruscolini – toasted ZUCCA (squash) seeds
Bucatini – long thick spaghetti with a small hole, almost always served all’ Amatriciana or alla Gricia
Bue – beef
Bufalo, Bufala – water buffalo, the meat of which is eaten in some southern areas and whose milk is used for MOZZARELLA
Burro – butter; pasta al Burro has only sweet butter and Parmesan cheese


Cacciagione – game
Cacio – cheese
Caffe‘ – generally coffee, but in a bar the word used alone means EXPRESSO
Calice – wineglass
Cameriere – waiter, steward; Cameriera – maid, waitress
Camomilla – chamomile, chamomile tea
Canarini – small artichokes (Venice)
Canditi – candied fruit
Cannella – cinnamon
Cannellini – elongated white beans; very pale light white wine of the CASTELLI ROMANI
Cappalunga – razor clam
Capperi – capers
Cappesante, Capasante – scallops
Capra – goat
Caprese Insalata – mozzarella and tomato salad with basil
Capricciosa pizza – pizza topped with various ingredients, supposedly chosen at whim but which are usually artichoke heart, prosciutto, and mushrooms
Capriolo – roe deer; venison
Carciofini – small artichokes or artichokes hearts, often marinate in olive oil
Carpaccio – originally thin-sliced raw beef with mayonnaise dressing, invented and named at Harry’s Bar in Venice; now used for thin-sliced raw (or sometimes smoked) fish or other meats
Cardi – cardoons
Carne – meat, flesh (of anything); carne macinata, ground meat
Carote – carrots
Carpaccio – originally thin-sliced raw beef with mayonnaise dressing, invented and named at Harry’ Bar in Venice; now used for thin-sliced raw (or sometimes smoked (fish or other meats
Carpione – a kind of trout. Fried and then marinated in vinegar, herbs, and spices
Carre‘ – roast loin (usually veal or pork) or saddle
Carrozza mozzarella – mozzarella between slices of bread, floured, dipped in egg, and fried
Castraure – small wild artichokes, most notably of the islands of the Venetian lagoon, available in spring
Caviale – caviar
Cavoli, cavolini, cavoletti di Bruxelles or Brusselle – Brussels sprouts
Ceci – chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
Cedro – citron
Cena – supper dinner
Ceneri – ashes
Cerfoglio – chervil
Cervo – stag, venison
Cesta – basket, any number of basket -bag lunch, often sold at railroad stations or prepared by hotels on request
Champignon – cultivated button mushroom
Chiacchiere – strips of fried or baked pastry dusted with powdered sugar, traditional during Carnevale, known by various names
Ciambotta – vegetable stew with potatoes, tomatoes, egg plant, onion, and peppers
Cibo – food
Cicoria – chicory or endive, in many varieties; cicoria di Bruxelles, Belgian endive
Ciliege – cherries
Cinghiale – wild boar
Cipolla – onion
Cocco, noce di cocco – coconut
Colazione – sometimes lunch but usually breakfast, which is correctly prima colazione
Coniglio – rabbit
Cotoletta – cutlet (veal unless otherwise specified) usually breaded and fried, though geographic attributions indicate a variety of preparations. See also COSTOLETTA
Cotto – cooked
Crudo – raw, rare; for salami and fish often means cured
Cremoso – creamy or thick, as opposed to liquid or runny
Cucina – kitchen; stove, range; cuisine, style of cooking
Cuoco – cook, chef
Desco – table; dining table
Dindo – turkey
Dragoncello – tarragon


Equino – equine: horse, donkey, or mule; carne equina, horse meat
Fagianello – young pheasant
Fagiano – pheasant
Fagiolo, pl. fagioli – beans
Fame – hunger, appetite
Farcito – stuffed
Farina – flour; farina gialla, cornmeal (cf.POLENTA)
Fegato – liver, usually calf’s most famous served “alla veneziana”, sautèed with onions; fegato grasso, foie gras
Figa‘ – liver
Figa garbo e dolce – liver breaded and fried, with a touch of vinegar and sugar; figa’ col radeselo, liver cut up, wrapped in sage leaves, and fried in butter (Venice)
Filetto – tenderloin, filet mignon
Finocchio – fennel, finocchio selvatico
Fior di latte – mozzarella like cheese and made from cow’s milk
Fiorentina – the famous Florentine beefsteak, a thick T-bone from the LOMBATA, ideally from CHIANINA beef, grilled very rare over coals
Formaggio – cheese
Forno – oven; bakery
Fragole – strawberries
Fragoline di bosco – tiny wild strawberries. Both are served with sugar and lemon juice or with CREMA GELATO, or, much more rarely with balsamic vinegar
Fragolino – read sea bream
Frantoio – olive press
Frittata – an omelette that has been turned over, not folded in half
Frutti di mare – shellfish
Fuori stagione – aout of season
Gallo – cock, rooster
Gambero – shrimp; gambero di fiume, cloves
Gassato, gasato – carbonated
Gattuccio – dogfish (small shark)
Ginepro – juniper
Grano padano – Parmesan like cheese from the Po Valley, Denominazione di Origine
Granchio – crab
Granelli – veal testicles; meatballs
Grano – grain; wheat
Granoturco – sweet corn
Grigette – small snails
Griglia – grill; alla griglia, grilled or broiled
Gusto – flavour (e.g ice cream); taste; pleasure
Imbottito – stuffed
Impanato – breaded
Indiviola – a wild endive
Insalata caprese – sliced tomatoes and mozzarella with fresh basil
Invecchiato – aged, seasoned
Kasher – kosher
Lamponi – raspberries
Lampreda – lamprey
Lardo – cured pork fat; fatty bacon, fat back; lardo rosa di Colonnata, a particulary prized type
Latte fritto – fried custard dessert
Lauro – bay leaf
Legno – wood; forno a legna , wood burning-oven
Lenticchie – lentils
Lepre – hare
Lesso – boiled
Limoncello – lemon liqueur, once associated with seaside resorts and sun-kissed islands, now ubiquitous
Limone – lemon
Lombata – loin
Lumache – snails, usually quite small and cooked in tomato sauce
Lupo di mare – lobster
Maccarello – mackerel
Macinapepe – pepper mill
Macinato – ground; minced
Maiale – pork; maialino da latte – suckling pig; cf. PORCHETTA
Mais – corn, swet corn; fiocchi di mais, cornflakes
Malfatti – a type of gnocchi
Mandorle – almonds; mandorla amara, bitter almond
Manzo – beef
Maracuja – passion fruit
Mazoro a la valesana – wild duck cooked in a terra-cotta pot with herbs, sardines, and capers
Mazzancolla – large Mediterranean shrimp
Mela – apple
Melagrana – pomegranate
Melanzane – eggplant
Menta – mint
Mercato – market
Merluzzo – fresh cod ( as opposed to Baccala’)
Mestolone – a wild duck
Miele – honey
Moleche, moeche – soft-shell crabs from the Venetian lagoon, usually deep-fried
More – blackberries
Moscardino – a kind of octopus, usually tiny
Moscato – noce – nutmeg
Muschiata, anatra – Barbary duck


Negroni – cocktail of Campari and gin
Noci – nuts; walnuts; noce di cocco, coconut; noce moscato, nutmeg
Odori – herbs
Orzo – barley; a small barley-shaped pasta used in soup
Panforte (di Siena), or (Sienese) – cake with almonds and dried fruit
Pastella – batter
Pastinaca – parsnip
Patanabo‘ – Jerusalem artichoke
Pavese – zuppa alla broth with bread, egg, and cheese (sometimes like French onion soup with egg instead of onion)
Pecorino – sheep’s milk cheese (the name comes from pecora, sheep); the family is large and varied, but most often its members are on the hard and sharp side. Pecorino Romano, a hard, sharp cheese, is one of the major pecorino cheeses; it is produced in a geographically limited zone, which includes Lazio and Sardinia, as well as part of Tuscany.
Peoci – mussels
Pepe verde – green peppercorns
Pepe – black pepper
Peperonata – stew of sweet peppers, onions, and tomatoes
Persa – marjoram
Pesca noce – nectarine
Pesca, pl. pesche – peach
Pesce serra – bluefish, mackerel
Pesce spada, pescespada – swordfish
Piccante – piquant; spicy
Pinoli – pignoli pine nuts
Piselli – peas; piselli alla fiorentina, peas cooked with onion and PROSCIUTTO CRUDO
Pollame – poultry
Pollanca – young turkey
Pollo – chicken; pollo alla diavola, achicken, split, flattened under a weight, brushed with oil and grilled
Polpette, polpettine – meatballs, patties, including meatless “meatballs” of other ingredients
Polpettone – meat loaf, often cooked in a pot rather than backed
Polpo, polipo – octopus
Pomodoro – tomato; pomodoro con il riso, tomato with rice, a large tomato filled with rice and baked, with potatoes on the side, eaten, usually in summer, as a PRIMO PIATTO
Pomplemo – grapefruit
Porcini, funghi – boletus mushrooms, cepes
Porco – pig
Perro – leek
Pranzo – lunch, dinner
Prezzemolo – parsley
Provola – fresh buffalo’s milk cheese similar to SCAMORZA
Prugna – prune, plum
Puttanesca – a quick-cooked tomato sauce for spaghetti that contains black olives, capers, anchovies, and red pepper
Rabarbaro – rhubarb
Ragu‘ – generically, a hearty sauce usually meat sauce, and subject to great regional variation; cf. BOLOGNESE
Razza – skate (ray)
Ribollita – bread-thickened kale soup (Tuscany)
Robiola – creamy, rich white cheese
Rosmarino – rosemary
Rotini – wheel-shaped pasta
Ruspante – free-range
Sale – salt
Salvia – sage ( herb)
Sambuca – anise flavoured liqueur, customarily served con le mosche (“with flies”) meaning with three coffee beans floating in it
Sarda – sardine
Scalogna, scalogno – shallot
Scorfano – Mediterranean scorpion fish (rascasse)
Segale – rye
Sepia – cuttlefish; seppioline, very small cuttlefish; uova di sepia, cuttlefish roe, which is white, mild flavoured, and somewhat scallop-like in form
Sfuso – (in) bulk; i.e., not packaged; vino sfuso, is bulk wine
Sgroppino – liquid sorbet containing alcohol
Sgusciato – shelled
Sidro – cider
Sogliola – sole
Soppressa – a Veneto sausage
Speck – a typed of smoked prosciutto
Spezie – spices
Spigola – sea bass, striped bass; = BRANZINO
Spina – birra alla spina – draft beer
Spinaci – (pl.) spinach
Spuntino – snack
Storione – leek
Pranzo – sturgeon
Testoni – young eels
Timo – thyme; thymus gland
Tiramisu‘ – literally it means pick me up; ubiquitous rich, layered dessert of sponge cake with brandy and ESPRESSO, MASCARPONE with egg, and chocolate
Tonno – tuna
Torrone – nougat candy made of honey, nuts and eggs whites
Totano – squid
Triglia – pl. triglie – red mullet
Trota – trout; trota iridea, rainbow trout; trota salmonata, a pink fleshed trout
Unto – oily, greasy
Uva spina – gooseberry
Uvetta – raisins
Vaniglia – vanilla
Verza – savoy cabbage
Vitella, vitello – veal
Vongole – clams
Vongole veraci – small clams with a pair of tiny “horns” on the meat
Zabaglione – a dessert of egg yolks, sugar, and Marsala, or an ice cream of the some flavour, sweetened egg custard with Marsala; often spelled Zabaione
Zafferano – saffron
Zenzero – ginger; red pepper
Zucca – pumpkin; squash, winter squash; see also fiore
Zucchero – sugar
Zucchine, zucchini – summer squash, zucchini

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