Italian A-Z Food Dictionary / Glossary

Italian A-Z Food Dictionary

A-Z of Italian Cheeses

Travelling to Italy and plan on eating out? Print this useful Italian- English food glossary to help you with the menus and avoid foodie misadventures!


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 in - 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 la - 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
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 , alla - literally =, whore's-style; 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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