film & videos

  food & wine
  italian american

  free email
  link directory

new york
events, links, forum

events, links, forum

events, links, forum

events, links, forum

san francisco
events, links, forum

los angeles
events, links, forum

about us

you can help us!
We're an all volunteer website and need your help to keep going. Here are five ways you can contribute:
1 Donate
2 Buy something
3 Submit a story
4 Volunteer
5 Advertise

get in gear!
New in the gift shop, logo wear and use items!
  PLEASE NOTE: We are experiencing unexpected technical difficulties caused by our web host. We apologize for the inconvenience. During your visit you may experience service and page interruptions - we are in the process of fixing everything and hope to be fully back on our feet soon.
Gourmet Pastas and Sauces on-line

italian table etiquette
Alice Ann Pazzaglia
(return to food)

Children are taught etiquette at an early age. They often accompany their parents out to dinner and have many chances to learn proper etiquette at the table.

Watch your hands, elbows and..

  • Keep elbows close the the body so as not to disturb those sitting on either side.
  • Keep both hands visible on the table (not resting on in your lap lap). In times past this was necessary to show that the person was not holding a weapon under the table! It works well for Italians because they can gesticulate with both hands while conversing.
  • Food is managed with both hands. The fork in the left hand and the knife in the right hand. (or vice versa for left-handed people).
  • Pieces are cut one at a time.
  • Whenever possible, fruit is eaten with a fork and a knife -- when in doubt, watch the host(ess).
  • One eats with the fork in the left hand while holding the knife. This style of eating is almost universal in the Western World, the U.S.A. is different.
  • When you are finished eating, the knife and fork are placed on the plate together, diagonally across the plate.

Come bearing gifts...
If you have been invited to dinner, never arrive late. Chances are the hostess is preparing a first course risotto or pasta and neither one can wait to be eaten.

You should arrive with a gift - a bottle of excellent wine or flowers. This thanks the hostess in advance for preparing a good meal. "Vengo a bussare con i piedi" I will come and knock on your door with my feet means that your arms are filled with gifts.

Be prepared for the shortest cocktail hour on record - more like a cocktail minute. You will be offered an aperativo which is usually a drink with a tiny bit of alcohol in it. Everyone goes "Salute" , drinks it down and then you move to the table.

Setting the table

  • The knife and soup spoon are placed to the right.
  • The fork(s) are placed on the left.
  • Water and wine glasses are placed to the upper right.
  • The large plate for the second course holds the smaller plate for antipasto.
  • When the smaller plate is removed, it is replaced by a bowl for soup or risotto or pasta.


  • The most important lady is served first; then the most important gentleman is served and the hostess is served last.
  • Serving plates are passed around informally.
  • The antipasti can be passed around twice.
  • Bread should be in small pieces so it is not necessary to cut it at the table. After it is served to you, you may rest the bread to one side on the tablecloth - do not ask for a bread plate.
  • Each course is served in a serving plate.
  • Warm antipasto should be served before cold antipasto
  • Broth and soups should be served in soup bowls the serving bowl is not passed around and seconds are never offered.
  • Pasta, on the other hand, should be served in a large serving plate and seconds can be offered.
  • Fish is served whole and divided afterwards.
  • Roasts are served already cut or divided into pieces. Never carve a roast (or turkey) at the table.
  • Salad is served in a plate put to the left of each person and must be dressed after it arrives at the table and served before the course it acompanies. Salad is served in a glass, china or wooden bowl never in a metal bowl.
  • When cheese is served, at least 4 different kinds must be offered. The cheese should be removed from the refrigerator at least one hour before it is served.
  • Before dessert is served the bread must be removed from the table.
  • Sweets and gelato are served immediately after the cheese and before the fruit.
  • Cakes are presented whole and then cut into pieces at the table.
  • Pastries are served on a tray with dessert wines and coffee.
  • Clean plates and food are served to the left and plates are removed from the right one at a time.

Wine and Water

  • Water is on the table when the guests are seated. The water glasses are filled never more than one-half full.
  • Wine can be served by the man of the house at any time. Again, the glass is filled only half full.
  • Water and wine are served from the right.
  • If different wines are served, the glasses must be changed. Wine should be served in the following order:
    • light, white wine
    • light red wine
    • heavy red wine
  • Red wine should be opened ahead of time.
  • Dessert wine is served at the table.
  • Coffee and liquers should be served in the livingroom


© 1998-2005 by unless otherwise noted