Ristorante, Trattoria, Osteria: 3 courses for dining in Italy

(Photo courtesy of The European Traveller)

If you dine out in Italy, you’ll likely be doing so in a Ristorante, a Trattoria or an Osteria.

But what exactly is the difference between a Ristorante, a Trattoria or an Osteria?

Traditionally, an Osteria was more like an inn where passers-through could stop for a meal and lodgings. Whilst now you won’t be allowed to sleep there – no matter how great the food is and how much you might want to stay as long as possible – but you can still go there for some great local food and wine in a relaxed setting.

On the other end of the spectrum, there is the Ristorante. Here, the service is more formal, the food is more gourmet, and of course the prices are also higher. A Ristorante is generally chosen for special occasions or for more formal dining experiences, complete with linen tablecloths and napkins

In between a Ristorante and an Osteria lies the Trattoria. This is like a casual version of a Ristorante – or perhaps a more formal Osteria, as you please. The prices are mid-range and the service more casual, often family-run.

Seeking out a Trattoria, particularly in Rome, is a great way to experience a typical and great-value Italian dining experience.

The European Traveller offers some wonderful advice for dining in Rome. ‘While Rome hotels tend to be expensive, Roman trattorias tend to be an excellent value! Rome is a lively, late-night trattoria town with wonderful neighborhood trattorias (small family-owned restaurants) serving classic Roman specialties and delicious regional wines. Rome is the best place in Italy for spaghetti with clams (topped with a traditional garlicky white sauce and loaded with clams cooked in the shell) and its wonderful seasonal artichokes are world-famous. Main courses are roasted meat or grilled fish dishes prepared with olive oil and fresh herbs, and for dessert, tiramisù and creamy homemade gelato (Italian ice-cream) top the list. The regional wines, such as Frascati, Castelli Romani and those from nearby Tuscany, are very good and reasonably priced. After dinner, try a local grappa or in summer, a refreshing limoncello (both very traditional Italian digestives that differ from place to place).’

This spring, for the first time in its nearly 18-year history, The European Traveller Report is offering the The European Traveller Rome Issue and The European Traveller Florence Issue to non-subscribers! These lovely issues present the few best small luxury boutique hotels, authentic trattorias and top historic attractions in one pocket-friendly edition.

And when in Rome

To explore must-see sights in Rome’s amazing historical city centre such as The Coliseum, Arch of Constantine, Roman Forum, and the Trevi Fountain, we have small-group Rome guided tours with a great tour guide.

Our guided small-group, skip-the-line tour of the Vatican allows you to see some great collections of precious arts as you visit the Vatican Museum with a great tour guide – and skip the line to do so.

Check out Artviva Walking Tours website for more tours in Florence, RomeVeniceCinque Terre, Umbria, Naples, Pompeii and more. We also have private tours in Florence (and Tuscany), RomeVenice, and to the Cinque Terre and beyond.

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