Italian food words vocabulary glossary

Comprehensive Italian Food Glossary: Mastering Italian Cooking Terms, Restaurant Vocabulary, and Culinary Delights



Immerse your palate in the flavors of Italy with this expansive glossary of Italian food vocabulary. From staple ingredients like pasta and olive oil to regional specialties like tiramisu and pesto, this definitive guide equips you with the essential culinary terminology to savor la dolce vita.

I’ve thoughtfully organized this guide into separate sections, each dedicated to a specific aspect of the culinary world. This intentional structure is designed to enhance your learning experience, allowing you to focus on specific categories and gain a deeper understanding of Italian gastronomy at your own pace.

Learn the Italian names for produce, dairy, meats, seafood, and more to build fluency for dining out, following recipes, and expanding your foodie lexicon. Read on for an edible education through all the essential courses of an Italian meal, iconic pasta shapes, signature sauces and herbs, frozen treats, and types of dining establishments.

With this robust cucina lexicon by your side, from primi to dolci, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the language of Italian cuisine as passionately as the country itself. Now let’s explore some vocabulary highlights across categorie alimentari so rich and appetizing, you’ll want to eat every word.

Must-Know Italian Food Names

From staple ingredients to regional specialties, this section covers the essential terms for mastering Italian cuisine. Learn key vocabulary for produce, dairy, meats, seafood, and more to build fluency in discussing Italian dishes, ordering at restaurants, and following recipes. 

Italian Food Groups

Let’s start with the building blocks: Italy’s main food groups.

Food groups are called categorie alimentari or gruppi alimentari in Italian.

Ortaggi e frutta – Vegetables and fruits

Latte – Milk

Cereali – Cereals

Legumi – Legumes

Carne, Pesci, e Uova – Meat, Fish, and Eggs

Grassi e oli da condimento – Fats and cooking oils

Italian Food Courses

Next, we’ll look at how an Italian meal progresses from start to finish, by learning the words used to describe each course.

Courses are called portate in Italian. The longer name for many of the following would be the name + portata. Ex: prima portata, seconda portata, terza portata.

So if a meal has 7 courses, you’ll say: “ La cena ha 7 portate”.

Antipasti – Appetizers

Primi – First Courses

Secondi – Second Courses

Contorni – Side Dishes

Dolci / Dessert – Desserts

Italian Grains

With pizza, pasta, and bread being among the most famous staples of food, the base of Italian cuisine begins with grains and flours, and so does our vocabulary list.

The general term used to refer to all of the following food names is cereali, although sometimes you might also hear them referred to as grani.

Frumento – Wheat

Riso – Rice

Mais – Corn

Farro – Spelt

Avena – Oats

Orzo – Barley

Malto – Malt

Segale – Rye

Semola – Semolina

Farine – Flour

Amidi – Starch

Cereali – Cereals

Pasta – Pasta

Pane – Bread

Polenta – Polenta

Italian Vegetable Names

Those grains would be tasteless if we didn’t add a few vegetables. In this section, you’ll learn the names of the vibrant produce that flourishes year-round in Italy.

Verdura and verdure are both used to refer to vegetables in the plural form. However, verdura is mostly used when speaking in general about vegetables – Ex. I don’t like vegetables, which translates to “Non mi piace la verdura”. 

Verdure is mostly used to refer to multiple types. For example, “How many vegetables do we have in the fridge?”, translates to “Quante verdure abbiamo nel frigo?”

Aglio – Garlic

Asparagi – Asparagus

Barbabietola – Beetroot

Broccoli – Broccoli

Carciofi – Artichokes

Carote – Carrots

Cavolfiore – Cauliflower

Cavolo – Cabbage

Cetrioli – Cucumbers

Cicoria – Chicory

Cime di rapa – Turnip Tops

Cipolla – Onion

Fagiolini – Green Beans

Finocchio – Fennel

Melanzane – Eggplant

Patate – Potatoes

Peperoni – Bell Peppers

Pomodoro – Tomato

Radicchio – Radicchio

Rapa – Turnip

Ravanelli – Radishes

Rucola – Arugula

Sedano – Celery

Spinaci – Spinach

Zucca – Pumpkin

Zucchine – Zucchini

Italian Fruit Names

Whether you are a fruit lover or not, we can’t forget about all the sweet fruits that thrive in Italy’s ideal climate.

Fruit is called frutta in Italian, and that’s the plural. The singular word is frutto.

Albicocca – Apricot

Ananas – Pineapple

Arancia – Orange

Avocado – Avocado

Banana – Banana

Cachi – Persimmon

Castagne – Chestnuts

Ciliegie – Cherries

Cocco – Coconut

Cocomero – Watermelon

Datteri – Dates

Fichi – Figs

Fragole – Strawberries

Gelsi – Mulberries

Kiwi – Kiwi

Lamponi – Raspberries

Limone – Lemon

Mandarino – Mandarin

Mandorla – Almond

Mango – Mango

Mela – Apple

Melograno – Pomegranate

Melone – Melon

Mirtillo – Blueberry

Mora – Blackberry

Pesca – Peach

Nespole – Medlar

Noci – Walnuts

Nocciole – Hazelnuts

Olive – Olives

Pere – Pear

Pesca – Peach

Pinoli – Pine nuts

Pistacchi – Pistachios

Pompelmo – Grapefruit

Prugne – Plums

Uva – Grapes

Italian common pasta names

Italian Pasta Names

Did you know that there are over 300 pasta shapes in Italy? I obviously can’t share them all here. We can do that in a separate article. For now, let’s focus on the names of the most popular ones.

Pasta shapes in Italian are referred to as “formati di pasta”.

Spaghetti – Long, thin cylindrical pasta.

Penne – Short, tube-shaped pasta with angled ends.

Fusilli – Corkscrew-shaped pasta.

Farfalle – Bow-tie or butterfly-shaped pasta.

Rigatoni – Large, ridged pasta tubes.

Tagliatelle – Long, flat ribbons of pasta.

Lasagne – Wide, flat pasta sheets often layered in a baked dish.

Orecchiette – Small, ear-shaped pasta.

Linguine – Long, flat, and thin pasta similar to spaghetti.

Cannelloni – Large pasta tubes often filled and baked.

Conchiglie – Shell-shaped pasta.

Pappardelle – Wide, flat pasta ribbons.

Gnocchi – Soft dumplings, often made with potatoes.

Ravioli – Small pasta parcels filled with various ingredients.

Tortellini – Ring-shaped pasta, typically filled and folded.

Fettuccine – Flat, wide pasta similar to tagliatelle.

Strozzapreti – Short, twisted pasta.

Casarecce – Short, rolled pasta with a groove.

Cavatelli – Small pasta shells with a concave shape.

Paccheri – Large, ridged tubes of pasta.

Trofie – Short, thin, twisted pasta.

Ditalini – Very short, small tube-shaped pasta.

Ziti – Long, hollow pasta tubes.

Busiate – Spiral-shaped pasta, often twisted by hand.

Italian Protein Foods


Although Italians might not eat as much meat as the Americans, we still use our fair share. That’s how we make our delicious Fiorentina steaks, Italian sausage dishes, Bolognese, and much more. Let’s learn the Italian names for those meats.

The general name for meat is carne in Italian.

Carne bianca: pollo, tacchino, coniglio, capretto e agnello;

White meat: chicken, turkey, rabbit, kid, and lamb;

Carne rossa: manzo, bue, vacche e cavalli;

Red meat: beef, ox, cows, and horses;

Carne rosata: vitello e maiale;

Pink meat: veal and pork;

Carne nera: selvaggina, cinghiali, lepri e caprioli.

Dark meat: game, wild boars, hares, and roe deer.

Italian fish names


Many Italian regions – like Liguria and Sicily – live on fish, so if you plan to visit them you may want to learn all the fish names so you can order your favorite ones.

Fish is pesce in the singular form and pesci in the plural.

Acciuga – Anchovy

Branzino – Sea bass

Merluzzo – Cod

Orata – Sea bream

Pesce spada – Swordfish

Persico – Perch

Rombo – Turbot

Salmone – Salmon

Sardina – Sardine

Scorfano – Scorpionfish

Sgombro – Mackerel

Sogliola – Sole

Tonno – Tuna

Triglia – Red mullet

Trota – Trout

The main categories are pesci di mare – saltwater fish, e pesci d’acqua dolce – freshwater fish.


The Italian coastline also offers beautiful shellfish and seafood. Let’s learn the names of those most caught and eaten.

But first, you must learn that seafood is “frutti di mare” in Italian, translating to sea fruits. What a poetic name!

Seppia – Cuttlefish

Calamaro – Squid

Polpo – Octopus

Cozze – Mussels

Vongole – Clams

Tartufi di mare – Sea truffles (seafood delicacy)

Capesante – Scallops

Ostriche – Oysters


Since eggs are technically a protein and not a dairy, I am listing it at the end of this section. We’ll move on to dairy food next.

We call eggs uova in Italian; one is uovo and many are uova.

There’s only one name for eggs but there are many types of eggs that Italians like to enjoy and cook with. Have a look:

Uova di quaglia – Quail eggs

Uova di faraona – Guinea fowl eggs

Uova di tacchino – Turkey eggs

Uova di anatra – Duck eggs

Uova di oca – Goose eggs

Uova di struzzo – Ostrich eggs

Uova di lompo – Lumpfish eggs

Uova di salmone – Salmon eggs

Bottarga – Bottarga (cured fish roe)

Caviale – Caviar

Italian Dairy Foods

Italian cuisine wouldn’t be the same without dairy food. Think about the fresh milk in the Alps, all the ice cream produced and sold throughout the country, the parmesan and grated cheeses that beautifully finish pasta dishes, the bechamel for the lasagna, the butter for all the cakes, and all the delicious cheeses you can eat as part of antipasti boards. 

In Italian, we call dairy food latte e derivati or latticini. Here’s a list of the most important ones.

Burro – Butter

Panna – Cream

Yogurt – Yogurt

Latti fermentati – Fermented milk products

Ricotta – Ricotta

Formaggi freschi – Fresh cheeses

Formaggi stagionati – Aged cheeses

With nearly 500 Italian cheeses, we can’t list them all here. So for now you should learn the names of these popular cheeses. 

The best way to do so is to go to your local cheese counter and buy them all, one or two at a time. Once you try them, you’ll be able to remember their name. And I am pretty sure you will also find a few new favorite cheeses to add to your weekly shopping list.

  1. Parmigiano-Reggiano
  2. Grana Padano
  3. Mozzarella
  4. Pecorino Romano
  5. Fontina
  6. Gorgonzola
  7. Provolone
  8. Asiago
  9. Taleggio
  10. Stracchino
  11. Mascarpone

Italian Sauce Names

Italian pasta and main courses wouldn’t be tasteless without all the signature Italian sauces to top those dishes.

In Italian, we call sauces in various ways depending on their thickness, whether they contain meat, and also their uses.

Salsa, sugo, and ragù are the main terms we use.

Salsa is the translation of sauce. Salsa can be both raw and cooked. While sugo is always cooked. The main difference is that we like to top food with salsa while we mix the sugo in with pasta or protein.

Ragù is also cooked and thick, similar to sugo, but contains chunks of meat. Nowadays, you can also find vegetarian versions with beans and tofu.

But this category also includes the famous pesto and paté. The difference between the two is that pesto has a rough consistency because the ingredients are crushed raw and then amalgamated thanks to the use of olive oil. On the other hand, paté has a thick but smooth texture where the ingredients are usually blended, from raw or cooked.

Besciamella – Bechamel sauce

Ragù alla Bolognese – Bolognese sauce

Ragù alla Napoletana – Neapolitan-style ragu sauce

Pesto alla Genovese – Genovese-style pesto

Pesto di pistacchi – Pistachio pesto

Pesto di rucola – Arugula pesto

Pesto di zucchini – Zucchini pesto

Pesto alla Siciliana – Sicilian-style pesto

Pesto alla Trapanese – Trapani-style pesto

Pesto di pomodori secchi – Sun-dried tomato pesto

Pesto di melanzane – Eggplant pesto

Pesto di fave – Broad bean pesto

Salsa verde – Green sauce

Salsa alle noci – Walnut sauce

Salsa cocktail – Cocktail sauce

Salsa agrodolce – Sweet and sour sauce

Salsa tonnata – Tuna sauce

Salsa d’aglio – Garlic sauce

Salsa di nero di seppia – Cuttlefish ink sauce

Crema di peperoni – Bell pepper cream

Tapenade – Tapenade

Maionese – Mayonnaise

Sugo di pomodoro – Tomato sauce

Passata di pomodoro – Tomato passata

Sugo di salsiccia – Sausage sauce

Paté di carciofi – Artichoke pate

Paté di asparagi – Asparagus pate

Paté di pomodori secchi – Sun-dried tomato pate

PS: “Sugo di pomodoro” and “passata di pomodoro” are both tomato-based products, but they serve different culinary purposes in Italian cuisine.

Sugo di pomodoro refers to a cooked sauce made from tomatoes. It often includes ingredients like olive oil, garlic, onions, herbs (such as basil and oregano), and sometimes additional vegetables. Sugo di pomodoro is typically simmered to develop rich flavors and is commonly used as a base for pasta dishes, pizzas, and various Italian recipes.

Passata di pomodoro is a smooth, uncooked tomato puree that has been strained to remove seeds and skin. It is essentially a pure, liquid form of tomatoes. Passata is what you use to make your pizza tomato sauce or to prepare a sugo di pomodoro unless you want it chunky, in which case you need to use polpa di pomodoro – tomato pulp.

Italian Herb Names

If you want to cook Italian food and also speak about them in Italian, you need to know the names of the herbs. Most Italian dishes wouldn’t have the same depth of flavor if it weren’t for the fresh herbs. This section covers the most loved ones in Italy.

In Italian, we call them erbe aromatiche.

Basilico – Basil

Prezzemolo – Parsley

Timo – Thyme

Maggiorana – Marjoram

Rosmarino – Rosemary

Salvia – Sage

Origano – Oregano

Menta – Mint

Aneto – Dill

Coriandolo – Coriander

Erba cipollina – Chives

Finocchio – Fennel

Italian Condiments

If you can only add one Italian ingredient to your usual food, I’d suggest you start with two Italian condiments – oil and balsamic vinegar.

The two important Italian names you need to know for this category are:

1. Olio extra vergine d’oliva – Extra Virgin Olive OIl

2. Aceto balsamico di Modena – Balsamic Vinegar of Modena

In case you want to know how to call other non-Italian condiments in Italian, I have listed a few for you below. Have a look.

Aceto Balsamico – Balsamic vinegar

Olio di oliva – Olive oil

Olio di oliva extra vergine – Extra virgin olive oil

Olio di semi – Vegetable oil

Here is what Italians call International condiments.

Olio di cocco – Coconut oil

Olio di avocado – Avocado oil

Olio tahini – Tahini oil

Miso – Miso

Salsa ketchup – Ketchup sauce

Salsa di pesce – Fish sauce

Salsa di soia – Soy sauce

Salsa Tahina – Tahini sauce

Salsa Worcester – Worcestershire sauce

Senape – Mustard

Italian Dessert Names

Much like pasta, there are hundreds of Italian desserts which we can’t list all here as it would be overwhelming. Here are the most popular ones you should not only learn about but most importantly taste.

Italians call desserts dessert if referring to what comes after a meal or dolci to refer to sweets. But dolci includes biscotti, torte, creme, gelati, caramelle, cioccolatini, torrone and much more.

For now, let’s focus on the most iconic cakes, custards, and biscuits. We’ll dive deeper into caramelle and chocolates in separate articles.

tiramisu and other Italian dessert names


Tiramisu: Coffee-soaked ladyfingers layered with mascarpone cheese, dusted with cocoa.

Cannoli: Crispy pastry tubes filled with sweet ricotta cream, often with chocolate or pistachios.

Cassata Siciliana: Sicilian dessert cake with sweetened ricotta, candied fruit, and sponge cake.

Pastiera Napoletana: Neapolitan Easter pie with ricotta, wheat berries, and orange blossom water.

Panna Cotta: Creamy dessert, “cooked cream,” often flavored with vanilla, served with fruit.

Pan di Spagna: Classic Italian sponge cake used as a base for various desserts.

Pasticciotti Leccesi: Pastry tarts filled with sweet ricotta or custard from Lecce.

Torta Caprese: Flourless chocolate and almond cake from Capri, often topped with powdered sugar.

Zuppa Inglese: Layered dessert similar to a trifle with sponge cake, custard, and fruit.

Torta Paradiso: Light and airy sponge cake, often flavored with lemon zest.

Strudel di mele: Traditional apple strudel with layers of pastry filled with spiced apples.

Torta Gianduia: Hazelnut and chocolate cake, often featuring Gianduia spread.

Torta Sbrisolona: Crumbly almond and cornmeal cake from Lombardy.

Torta Diplomatica: Layered dessert with puff pastry and custard, often adorned with chocolate.

Torta di mele: Classic apple pie or cake with layers of sliced apples.

Babà Napoletano: Small, rum-soaked cake from Naples, often served with whipped cream.

Torta Mimosa: Festive cake resembling mimosa flowers, enjoyed during Women’s Day.

Torta Tenerina: Moist and dense chocolate cake from Emilia-Romagna.

Torta Gelato: Ice cream cake with layers of sponge cake and gelato.

Colomba: Easter dove-shaped cake, similar to Panettone but with a different shape and flavors.

Panettone: Traditional Christmas sweet bread studded with candied fruit and raisins.

Pandoro: Christmas sweet bread with a star-shaped design and powdered sugar coating.


Amaretti: Almond-flavored cookies, often crisp and crunchy.

Krumiri: S-shaped butter cookies, originating from Piedmont.

Cantucci: Almond biscotti, twice-baked and perfect for dipping in coffee or dessert wine.

Savoiardi: Ladyfinger cookies, light and sponge-like, commonly used in desserts like tiramisu.

Ricciarelli: Almond-flavored, chewy cookies, traditional in Siena during Christmas.

Canestrelli: Shortbread-like cookies, often crumbly and flavored with citrus or vanilla.

Baci di dama: “Lady’s kisses,” hazelnut cookies sandwiched with chocolate.

Strufoli: Deep-fried dough balls, typically coated in honey and sprinkled with colorful confetti.

Torrone: Nougat confection made with honey, sugar, and nuts, often enjoyed during holidays.

Custards & Pastry Creams

Crema pasticcera: Italian pastry cream, a rich custard often used in pastries and desserts.

Crema Chantilly: Chantilly cream, sweetened whipped cream often flavored with vanilla.

Crema alla Gianduia: Cream made with a blend of chocolate and hazelnut paste (Gianduia).

Crema al pistacchio: Pistachio-flavored cream, often used in pastries and desserts.

Crema alla nocciola: Hazelnut-flavored cream, a delicious addition to various desserts.

Crema al cioccolato: Chocolate-flavored cream, versatile in pastry and dessert preparations.

Crema al limone: Lemon-flavored cream, adding a zesty touch to sweets and pastries.

If you’d like to know the names of breakfast pastries like sfogliatelle, here’s an article all about that.

Italian gelato flavors names
Italian Gelato Flavors

Italian Gelato Flavors

There are over 600 ice cream flavors and new ones are being created all the time. Let’s learn the names of the classic ones.

Amaretto – Amaretto

Babà – Babà (rum-soaked cake)

Banana – Banana

Caffè – Coffee

Cannella – Cinnamon

Cassata – Cassata (Sicilian dessert)

Cioccolato bianco – White chocolate

Cioccolato al latte – Milk chocolate

Cioccolato fondente – Dark chocolate

Cocco – Coconut

Caramello – Caramel

Fichi – Fig

Fior di latte – Milk flavor

Fragola – Strawberry

Kiwi – Kiwi

Limone – Lemon

Malaga – Malaga (rum-soaked raisin and nut flavor)

Mandarino – Mandarin orange

Mandorla – Almond

Mango – Mango

Melone – Melon

Menta – Mint

Nocciola – Hazelnut

Panna cotta – Panna cotta

Pistacchio – Pistachio

Stracciatella – Stracciatella (chocolate chip)

Tartufo – Truffle (chocolate and nuts)

Tiramisu – Tiramisu

Vaniglia – Vanilla

Zabaione – Zabaione (Italian custard)

Italian Restaurant Names

Italy is home to a variety of dining establishments where you can sample authentic regional fare. This section covers the main types of restaurants you’ll encounter throughout the country.

Buffet – Buffet

Crispelleria – Creperie

Fast food – Fast food

Mensa – Cafeteria (usually in a workplace or school)

Osteria – Osteria (a casual Italian eatery serving wine and simple food)

Paninoteca – Sandwich shop

Pizzeria – Pizzeria

Ristorante – Restaurant

Self-service – Self-service (often used for cafeteria-style dining)

Taverna – Tavern

Tavola calda – Hot table (referring to a restaurant with pre-prepared food like mini pizzas and arancini)

Trattoria – Trattoria (an Italian restaurant serving home-style dishes)

buongustaio means foodie in Italian
Whoever is eating all this goodness is a “Buongustaio” aka a foodie or gourmet

Italian Food Vocabulary: 50 Words to Learn Now

Beyond the core ingredients and dishes covered in the previous sections of this article, there are dozens of additional Italian food terms that are equally vital to know. This section highlights 50 especially important or iconic vocabulary words that don’t fall neatly into the other categories but are nonetheless essential to advancing your kitchen fluency.

  1. Aceto Balsamico – Balsamic vinegar
  2. Aglio olio – Garlic Oil (referring to the iconic garlic and olive oil spaghetti dish)
  3. Affettati – Cold cuts
  4. Al dente – To the tooth (referring to pasta cooked firm to the bite)
  5. Biscotti – Cookies
  6. Bistecca – Steak
  7. Bruschetta – Bruschetta (toasted bread with toppings)
  8. Buongustaio – Food enthusiast or gourmet
  9. Cannelloni – Cannelloni (large pasta tubes often filled and baked)
  10. Caponata – Caponata (Sicilian eggplant dish)
  11. Ciabatta – Ciabatta (type of Italian bread)
  12. Cotolette – Cutlets
  13. Crema – Cream
  14. Crostata – Tart or pie
  15. Espresso – Espresso
  16. Focaccia – Focaccia (Italian flatbread)
  17. Formaggio – Cheese
  18. Frittata – Frittata (an egg-based dish with various ingredients)
  19. Frittelle – Fritters
  20. Gelataio – Gelato maker or ice cream shop
  21. Grana Padano – Grana Padano (hard, aged Italian cheese)
  22. Grappa – Grappa (Italian grape-based pomace brandy)
  23. Grissini – Breadsticks
  24. Lasagna – Lasagna
  25. Liquore – Liqueur
  26. Limoncello – Limoncello (Italian lemon liqueur)
  27. Macellaio – Butcher
  28. Mascarpone – Mascarpone (Italian cream cheese)
  29. Miele – Honey
  30. Minestra / Minestrone – Soup (minestra is a general term while minestrone is a hearty soup type)
  31. Mozzarella – Mozzarella
  32. Pancetta – Pancetta (Italian bacon)
  33. Panettiere – Baker
  34. Pangrattato – Breadcrumbs
  35. Parmigiano – Parmesan
  36. Pasticceria – Pastry shop or bakery
  37. Pescivendolo – Fishmonger
  38. Prosciutto – Prosciutto (cured ham)
  39. Polpette – Meatballs
  40. Risotto – Risotto
  41. Salami – Salami
  42. Salumi – Cured meats
  43. Scaloppine – Thin slices of meat, often sautéed
  44. Scarpetta – “Little shoe,” the act of using bread to mop up sauce on a plate
  45. Spiedini – Skewers or kebabs
  46. Stufato – Stew
  47. Taralli – Taralli (Italian snack food)
  48. Verduraio – Greengrocer
  49. Zucchero – Sugar
  50. Zuppa – Soup

Italian Food Descriptive Words (adjectives)

The Italian language is full of vivid, textured adjectives to describe the taste, texture, and quality of food. This section equips you with key vocabulary to properly characterize Italian cuisine and intelligently discuss dishes. Learn these essential descriptive terms to elevate your food critiques.

Here are the most common adjectives used to describe food when speaking in Italian. 

Buono – Good

Gustoso – Tasty

Sostanzioso – Hearty

Cattivo – Bad

Ricco – Rich

Naturale – Natural

Cotto – Cooked

Sano – Healthy

Freddo – Cold

Caldo – Hot

Delicato – Delicate

Tradizionale – Traditional

Proteico – Protein-rich

Abbondante – Abundant

Scarso – Poor (in quantity)

Saporito – Flavorful

Insipido – Tasteless

Salato – Salty

Dolce – Sweet

Amaro – Bitter

Squisito – Exquisite

Preferito – Favorite

Appetitoso – Appetizing

Vegano – Vegan

Nutriente – Nutrient-rich

Fresco – Fresh

Scaduto – Expired

Povero – Poor (in quality)

Secco – Dry

Crudo – Raw

Biologico – Organic

Grasso – Fatty

Leggero – Light

Pesante – Heavy

Vegetariano – Vegetarian

mangiare is an Italian food word and more exactly an eating verb
The correct expression is mangiare la pizza

Italian Cooking Verbs + Eating

Speaking fluently about Italian cuisine requires just as much verb mastery as food vocabulary. This section covers fundamental terminology for preparing, cooking, serving, and enjoying food and drink in Italian. Learn essential roots for activities like chopping, baking, and tasting – as well as dining etiquette terminology. Later on, you can progress on learning how to conjugate them.

Let’s start with eating and drinking verbs.

Eating Verbs

Mangiare – To eat

Mordere – To bite

Sgranocchiare – To crunch

Assaggiare – To taste

Saziare – To satisfy (hunger)

Assaporare – To savor

Consumare – To consume

Pranzare – To have lunch

Cenare – To have dinner

Fare colazione – To have breakfast

Fare merenda – To have a snack

Fare l’aperitivo – To have an aperitif (pre-dinner drink)

Inghiottire – To swallow

Degustare – To taste or sample (usually used for wine or food tasting)

Drinking Verbs

Bere – To drink

Sorseggiare – To sip

Let’s move to cooking verbs.

Cooking Verbs

Affettare – To slice

Affumicare – To smoke

Arrostire – To roast

Bollire – To boil

Buttare – To throw (can also mean to discard or toss in the context of cooking)

Condire – To season or dress (with a sauce)

Cucinare – To cook

Cuocere – To bake or cook

Friggere – To fry

Frullare – To blend or puree

Grattuggiare – To grate

Grigliare – To grill

Imbottire – To stuff

Imburrare – To butter

Impanare – To breadcrumb (coat with breadcrumbs)

Impiattare – To plate (arrange food on a plate)

Infornare – To bake (put in the oven)

Lessare – To boil (usually for pasta or vegetables)

Macinare – To grind

Marinare – To marinate

Mescolare – To stir

Montare – To whip (as in whipping cream)

Pelare – To peel

Pepare – To pepper (season with pepper)

Rosolare – To sauté or brown

Salare – To salt (season with salt)

Sbattere – To beat (as in beating eggs)

Sbucciare – To peel (usually fruits or vegetables)

Scaldare – To heat

Soffriggere – To sauté or fry (lightly in oil)

Spalmare – To spread

Spremere – To squeeze or press

Tritare – To chop

Ungere – To grease or oil (as in greasing a pan)

Versare – To pour

Final Thoughts on Italian Food Words

From staple ingredients like olio d’oliva to regional iconics like gelato, we hope this glossary has whet your appetite to immerse yourself in the flavors of Italy. With hundreds of essential food names, descriptive vocabulary, and cooking terminology, you now have a solid lexicon base to build upon through travel, recipes, and conversations with fellow buongustai.

This edible education in Italian cuisine is just the beginning. Keep enriching your vocabulary by trying new produce at the mercato, sampling formaggi at a latteria, and reading Italian cookbooks. Most importantly, enjoy putting these food words into practice by preparing dishes and dining on authentic regional fare. Before you know it, you’ll be thinking about cuisine as much in Italian as you savor it. 

To continue expanding your Italian food vocabulary, you can read all about famous & fun Italian food phrases here (like L’appetito vien mangiando) or learn about Italian pizza types here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some Italian food names? 

Some Italian food names include pasta, pizza, risotto, lasagne, ravioli, tiramisu, gelato, prosciutto, parmigiano, mozzarella, olive, pomodoro, basilico, aceto balsamico, olio d’oliva, and polenta.

What do Italians say when they like food? 

When Italians like food, they might say “buono!” (good!), “delizioso!” (delicious!), or “squisito!” (exquisite!).

What is the word yummy in Italian? 

The Italian word for yummy or tasty is “gustoso.”

What do Italians say when the food is delicious? 

If Italians want to say the food is delicious, they could say “è delizioso!” or “che buono!”. They may also use the word “squisito” which means exquisite.

What are 10 Italian foods? 

Ten popular Italian foods are pizza, pasta, risotto, olive oil, parmesan cheese, tiramisu, gelato, prosciutto, mozzarella, and lasagne.

Some of the most famous Italian food names include pizza, pasta, and ingredients like tomato sauce (salsa di pomodoro), mozzarella cheese (mozzarella), basil (basilico), and olive oil (olio di oliva). Tiramisu and gelato are also very well-known Italian desserts.

What’s food called in Italian? 

In Italian, food is generally called “cibo” but can also be referred to as “vivande” meaning provisions or victuals.

What are the Italian names of the most common types of pasta? 

Some of the most common types of Italian pasta and their names are: spaghetti, penne, fusilli, farfalle, rigatoni, tagliatelle, lasagne, linguine, cannelloni, gnocchi, ravioli, and tortellini.

What do Italians call soups and stews? 

In Italian, soups are called “zuppe” and stews are called “stufati.” Some examples are minestrone and beef stew (stufato di manzo).

Alessia Spampinato