Elena De Luca is a professional tour guide from Venice. She offers travelers unique insights and practical tips to explore and enjoy Italy's most romantic city.
When you're dining in Venice, it's easy to get confused by menu items, especially if you're unfamiliar with Italian cuisine. One item you might encounter is "contorni," which may perplex those unacquainted with Italian dining customs. In essence, contorni are side dishes, usually served with secondi (main courses). They typically consist of vegetables, potatoes, or salads.
However, contorni isn't the only term you might struggle with. So, let's delve deeper into the world of Venetian menus and help you navigate your dining experience with ease.
Let's Decode the Italian Menu Together 🍝
Italian menus are often divided into several sections, each representing a different course. This might include antipasti (starters), primi (first courses, usually pasta or risotto), secondi (main courses, often meat or fish), and dolci (desserts). Contorni, as mentioned, are the side dishes.
Navigating Venetian Menu Lingo: What Does It All Mean? 🇮🇹
Aside from the course names, here are a few other terms you might encounter:
- Al forno - baked
- Al vapore - steamed
- Alla griglia - grilled
- Al dente - literally 'to the tooth', meaning pasta that is cooked so it's still firm when bitten
- Con - with
Knowing these terms can help you understand how your food will be prepared and what it will be served with.
Understanding Italian Menu Terms
Test your knowledge on common Italian menu terms.
Venetian Delights: Must-Try Dishes in Venice 🍴
Venice has its own unique culinary traditions, with many dishes featuring seafood from the lagoon. Here are a few Venetian specialties you might find on the menu:
- Sarde in saor - sardines marinated in onions, vinegar, and raisins
- Risotto al nero di seppia - risotto with cuttlefish and its ink
- Fegato alla veneziana - Venetian-style liver, usually served with onions
If you see these dishes on a menu, don't hesitate to try them - they're part of the authentic Venetian dining experience!
One such traditional dish that exemplifies Venetian cuisine is the Risotto al nero di seppia, a creamy risotto made with cuttlefish and its ink. Have a look at this classic Venetian dish below.
The striking black hue of the risotto comes from the cuttlefish ink, adding not just color but also a unique flavor to the dish. It's a must-try when you're in Venice!