Get the most out of your Italian food experience with our extensive A-Z list of Italian food. We have compiled this list of Italian food words so that even non-Italian speakers can enjoy reading menus and ingredients, further enhancing your Italian food discovery.
Distinguish “Cannella” (cinnamon) from “Cannellini” (white beans) and how to recognize that “fame” means hungry, not that the waiter thinks you are famous. We very much hope these Italian food names help you enjoy the delicious and varied Italian cuisine, buon appetito!
With Cellar Tours you can experience the best food and wine Italy has to offer on a Italian Gourmet Grand Tour
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
Acqua pazza – poached white fish
Acquacotta – vegetable soup, usually spiced with peppers and thickened with bread, sometimes containing egg and cheese
Affettati – cold cuts, sliced meats
Affumicato – smoked
Agghiotta di pesce spada – fried Swordfish served with toasted bread crostini and flavored with garlic
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
Ai frutti di mare – a seafood pizza that may be served with scampi, mussels or squid
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
Anisette – anise-flavored liqueur
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
Arancini – Deep fired rice balls stuff with ragù, mozzarella and coated with bread crumbs – typical Sicilian dish
Aringa – herring
Armelin – apricot
Arrosticini – skewers of roast sheep meat
Asiago – cow milk cheese produced in alpine area of the Asiago, in the Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige regions
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
Baccalà mantecato – Venetian specialty of boiled STOCCAFISSO beaten with olive ooil into a thick cream
Baccalà / 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
Bigoli – Pasta made with buckwheat or whole wheat flour, and sometimes includes duck eggs.
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
Bozza pratese – Tuscan bread made with flour, water and yeast.
Braciola – chop of cutlet, usually pork but also lamb, beef, or game (and even fish)
Branzino al sale – Sea bass baked in salt.
Brasato – braised beef or pot roast , often al Barolo, that is red wine
Bresaola – Salted air-dried beef that has been aged for three months, from Valtellina region.
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
Buridda – Seafood soup.
Burro – butter; pasta al Burro has only sweet butter and Parmesan cheese
Cacciagione – game
Cacciucco – Fish stew from coastal towns of Tuscany.
Cacio – cheese
Caffe – generally coffee, but in a bar the word used alone means EXPRESSO
Calamaretti – Squid
Calice – wineglass
Calzone – folded pizza with its origins in Naples.
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
Cannelloni – Cylindrical pasta served baked with a filling and covered by a sauce. Stuffings include spinach, ricotta and minced meat.
Capellini – A very thin spaghetti like pasta.
Capesante alla veneziana – Venetian-style scallops.
Capocollo – Thinly sliced dry cured pork, similar to prosciutto
Cappalunga – razor clam
Capperi – capers
Cappesante, Capasante – scallops
Cappon magro – Genoese seafood salad with vegetables and usually served with with a rich sauce.
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
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
Casatiello – Neapolitan Easter bread, embedded with eggs embedded on top and decorated with crosses made from dough on top.
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
Chitarra – Spaghetti style egg pasta typical of Abruzzo.
Ciabatta – white bread made from wheat flour, water, olive oil, salt, and yeast.
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
Ciriola – Traditional Roman bread which is crusty on the outside and with a soft crumb the inside.
Cocco, noce di cocco – coconut
Coda alla vaccinara – Oxtail stew typical Roman cuisine.
Colazione – sometimes lunch but usually breakfast, which is correctly prima colazione
Colomba di Pasqua – Tradition Easter cake
Conchiglie – Seashell shaped pasta.
Coniglio – rabbit
Coppia ferrarese – sourdough bread made with flour, fat, malt, and olive oil, and braided.
Cotechino Modena – Sausage made from pork.
Cotoletta – cutlet (veal unless otherwise specified) usually breaded and fried, though geographic attributions indicate a variety of preparations. See also COSTOLETTA
Cotto – cooked
Crescentina – bread typical in the Emilia Romagna region.
Crocchè – Similar to French croquettes mainly found in Southern Italy and Sicily.
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
Culatello – Cured air-dried pork loin of hind leg similar to prosciutto.
Cuoco – cook, chef
Dado – stock cube (Bouillon)
Desco – table; dining table
Diavolollo – spicy-hot chili pepper
Digestivo – Alcoholic drink taken after food
Dindo – turkey
Ditalini – Pasta that is shaped like small thimbles or tubes.
Dobos – Cake from Trieste
Donzelle – bread fried in olive oil (Tuscan)
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
Farfalle – A type of pasta also called bow-tie or butterfly pasta.
Farina – flour; farina gialla, cornmeal (cf.POLENTA)
Fegato – liver, usually calf’s most famous served “alla veneziana”, sautèed with onions; fegato grasso, foie gras
Fettuccine – a popular type of pasta in Roman and Tuscan cuisine. Made from flour and egg into flat thick strands similar to tagliatelle.
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
Focaccia al rosmarino – Flatbread made from focaccia dough, rosemary, olive oil and salt, sea salt. Typically serverd served as an antipasto or snack
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
Fusilli – Style of pasta formed into corkscrew shapes.
Gallo – cock, rooster
Gambero – shrimp; gambero di fiume, cloves
Garganelli – An egg-based pasta that is very similar to penne.
Gassato, gasato – carbonated
Gattuccio – dogfish (small shark)
Ginepro – juniper
Gnocchi – Small dumplings made from semoline and stuffed with potato
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
Guanciale – Cured pork cheeks.
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
Lasagne – A pasta dish made with layers of pasta alternated with sauces and ingredients such as meats, vegetables and cheese, and stopped with melted cheese.
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
Mortadella – Luncheon meat made from ground pork and flavored with ground black pepper, berries, and pistachios.
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
Oca – Goose
Odori – herbs
Orecchiette – Pasta that is popular in Southern Italy, typically made with a meat such as pork, capers.
Orzo – barley; a small barley-shaped pasta used in soup
Osso buco – Veal shanks braised with vegetables and cooked in white wine and broth.
Pancetta – Pork belly
Panforte (di Siena), or (Sienese) – cake with almonds and dried fruit
Pappardelle – A large, flat, broad style of pasta similar to fettuccine, that is originally from the Tuscany.
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
Pezzetti di Cavallo – Horsemeat dish cooked in tomato sauce.
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
Prosciutto – Dry-cured ham thinly sliced.
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
Ravioli – Dumpling mades from pasta and is usually served with a sauce.
Razza – skate (ray)
Ribollita – bread-thickened kale soup (Tuscany)
Robiola – creamy, rich white cheese
Rosmarino – rosemary
Rosticciana – pork cuts grilled on charcoal and seasoned with spices and vinaigrette.
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
Tacconi – A pasta similar to tagliatelle, made from eggs, wheat flour and bean flour.
Tagliatelle – A traditional type of pasta from the Emilia-Romagna usually server with a meat sauce.
Testaroli – A flat pancake style pasta made water, flour and salt. It is an ancient pasta thought to have it origins from the Etruscan civilization. And is sometimes garnished with pesto.
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
Tortellini – A ring-shaped pasta that are stuffed with a mix of meat, cheese, or both.
Torrone – nougat candy made of honey, nuts and eggs whites
Totano – squid
Trenette – A thin flat pasta from Genoa and Liguria, which is similar to linguine.
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