Italian food is one of the most beloved cuisines on the planet. Common Italian dishes like fettuccine alfredo and spaghetti are easy enough to figure out. However, some Italian terms may have you scratching your head as you look at a menu. Here is a brief education to help you master some essential Italian cooking and dining terms.
You’ve probably heard this term as it relates to pasta. Translated directly from Italian, al dente means “to the tooth.” At Bambinos, we cook our pasta al dente – reaching the point where it’s not quite completely cooked – then typically finish cooking it with the addition of sauce and pasta water. As the pasta finishes cooking, it absorbs the sauce and flavors the noodle itself, which leads to the perfect bite of pasta.
Antipasti literally means “before food” and often refers to appetizers or hors d’oeuvres. A traditional Italian antipasti platter can range from various meats, fresh salads or small hot dishes. Take our Antipasto Salad, for example, which features lettuce and mixed greens tossed with house dressing, parmesan, onion, red peppers, cucumber, provel cheese and more.
The word “cacciatore” translates to “hunter” in Italian. Therefore, cacciatore dishes are frequently on the heartier side. Dishes prepared cacciatore-style typically include hearty ingredients like herbs, wine and veggies. You’ll see this term used most frequently with dishes that involve chicken and rabbit.
You’re probably familiar with common pasta dishes like ziti and spaghetti, which are made from flour noodles. Gnocchi, however, is a popular dish made from small dumplings that typically combine semolina flour, potatoes and ricotta cheese.
Ok. So this one isn’t technically an Italian cooking term, but if you’re from the Missouri area, you’re probably familiar with provel, a white cheese that combines cheddar, swiss and provolone cheeses. Try this tasty cheese on dishes like our delicious pizzas or atop pastas like The Zia and The Bambino on our dinner menu.
“Conosco i miei polli.”
This common Italian phrase translates literally into “I know my chickens,” but its common meaning is more along the lines of “I know what I’m talking about.” So, the next time someone asks for a recommendation of where are the best Springfield Missouri Italian restaurants, send them our way with a firm “Conosco i miei polli!”
Now that you’ve learned these common Italian cooking and dining terms, you can make your way around an Italian menu with ease. Head to Bambinos for your next evening out, and get ready to impress your friends and family with your newfound mastery of Italian cooking terms.