Stop Ordering These Items At An Italian Restaurant, Order These Instead

Stop Ordering These Items At An Italian Restaurant, Order These Instead

It’s tempting to want every dish in an Italian restaurant. From mouth-watering pasta dishes to heavenly desserts, who truly knows what to order? We’re here to help you narrow it down with 10 dishes to forget about and 10 that need immediate ordering.  

1. Mozzarella Sticks

Mozza sticks aren’t exactly authentic Italian eating. If you’re at a traditional Italian restaurant, veer away from items you’d find in your everyday East Side Mario’s—chances are those mozza sticks are bland and might even be frozen.

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2. Fettucine Alfredo

While it’s a classic menu item, broaden your horizons the next time you’re out. Not only is fettuccine alfredo something you can make at home, it’s something you can make healthier at home, too. 

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3. Spaghetti and Ketchup

The chef wasn’t thinking ketchup when they put “tomato sauce” on the menu. Stop dousing your spaghetti in the stuff, especially with so many available options. Even if you need a toned-down dish, there’s bound to be something else you’ll enjoy. 

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4. Garlic Bread

Garlic bread is either done right or an unfortunate waste of money. Prepare to take the gamble next time you’re out, or better yet, just don’t order garlic bread. Real Italian restaurants have all kinds of other delicious starters.

Louis-Hansel-Yl33Be56Sbg-UnsplashPhoto by Louis Hansel on Unsplash


5. Caesar Salad

Just about every restaurant has Caesar salad, either as a main or a starter—and that’s exactly why you shouldn’t order it. You can find it anywhere, it’s ultimately uninspired, and it’s also a dish you can whip up at home. 

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6. Margherita Pizza

It’s not that the dish itself is disappointing, it’s that it’s hardly worth the cost. The odds of you stumbling into a life-changing Margherita are pretty slim, so it’s best you try something else.  

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7. Caprese Salad

Caprese salad is often reserved for Italian restaurants, making it a rarer delicacy to indulge in. However, mind when you order it because when tomatoes aren’t in season, your salad won’t have the burst of flavor it’s known for. 

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8. Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e pepe is frankly a simple dish you don’t need to spend money on. Eating out is all about trying new things or ordering items you can’t make at home—and this is one even novice home cooks can prepare. 

Sebastian-Coman-Photography-Mvwqrsnnbhg-UnsplashPhoto by Sebastian Coman Photography on Unsplash

9. Bruschetta

Bruschetta suffers the same coin toss as garlic bread: it’s either incredible or needs significant improvement. Unless you know the restaurant can deliver, order a different starter. The last thing you want is bruschetta that’s burned or drowning in olive oil. 

Mike-Van-Den-Bos-F4Qvqfkg2Aw-UnsplashPhoto by Mike van den Bos on Unsplash

10. One Glass of Wine

There’s nothing wrong with a glass of wine at dinner, especially in an Italian restaurant! However, keep an eye on the price tag because glasses of wine are often heavily inflated. Ask yourself if you really need it or consider sharing a bottle to try and get more bang for your buck. 

Thomas-Martinsen-Eo9Znteuh Y-UnsplashPhoto by Thomas Martinsen on Unsplash

Now let’s dive fork-first into which items are worth it in Italian restaurants. 


1. Lasagna

Where else are you going to eat authentic lasagna? Sure, you can probably make one at home (or suffer through the boxed kind), but real Italian restaurants have lasagna that blows your socks off. 

Marie-Dehayes-7Foqkhlfwxe-UnsplashPhoto by Marie Dehayes on Unsplash

2. Braised Dishes

Leave braised dishes to the professionals. While traditional menu items like osso buco focus on braised veal, you can also score braised beef entrees or enjoy braised meat in stews. 

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3. Traditional Multi-Course Meal

Some restaurants come with traditional multi-course feasts, and it’s something to keep an eye on. Bring your appetite and indulge one of these days—you’ll get anywhere from four to five courses, and your money’s worth. 

Jay-Wennington-N Y88Twmgwa-UnsplashPhoto by Jay Wennington on Unsplash

4. Gnocchi

Often confused for pasta, gnocchi is actually made of mashed potatoes, which technically puts it in a league of its own. Consider it next time as this dish brings nothing but flavor and is sure to properly fill you. 

Sebastian-Coman-Photography-Zmhi-Omdvbw-UnsplashPhoto by Sebastian Coman Photography on Unsplash

5. Fresh Soup

Some people shy away from soup in a restaurant, mainly because it’s a dish you can make at home. While that’s technically true, soup in authentic Italian restaurants is homemade and loaded with flavor. Even if it’s a flavor you’ve tried at home, give the restaurant’s a try to truly learn the difference. 

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6. Family Style

If you’ve got something to celebrate, family style is the way to go. Heaps of food are brought to the table for everyone to enjoy, allowing dinner guests to share and transport themselves to the Italian countryside. The variety also ensures everyone gets a taste. 

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7. Veal Dishes

Order a dish like osso buco to really make your tastebuds sing. It might be on the more expensive side, but it’ll be worth it—the meat falls off the bone and comes with a perfectly complemented sauce.

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8. Tiramisu

Tiramisu is the real deal in an Italian restaurant—and it’s one of the lightest ways to end the evening. Its creamy texture pairs beautifully with a rich coffee flavor, one that isn’t overpowering.

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9. Fritto Misto

Why settle for garlic bread when fritto misto’s available? For those unfamiliar, the dish is simply a mix of lightly battered fried seafood and vegetables, often accompanied by a lemon wedge to help bring out the flavor. 

Joanie-Simon-Cotv-D5Oska-UnsplashPhoto by Joanie Simon on Unsplash

10. Arancini

Unlike other menu items on this list, arancini isn’t one easily made at home. That’s precisely why you should indulge the time you’re out. Just keep in mind that they can be a bit heavy, though that does make them perfect to share.  

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