When you’re on holiday in Italy, one of the first things you should learn is how to order food or drinks in Italian. If on the one hand asking for directions is becoming more and more obsolete, due to internet, online maps and apps that you can download to find anything you’re looking for, on the other hand knowing how to order and ask for things in Italian, at the coffee shop or at the restaurant, is fundamental if you want to get by, unless the locals can speak your language.

This article will teach you everything you need to know to order in Italian, whether it’s a pizza, an ice cream or a cocktail at the bar.

Asking politely

1) Vorrei

Vorrei (I would like) comes from the verb volere (to want), and by using it in the conditional tense, your request will sound much more polite.

Vorrei una pizza margherita, per favore. I would like a margherita please.

Vorremmo due birre e un bicchiere di vino. We would like two beers and a glass of wine.

 

2) Posso avere…?

Another way of ordering food in Italian is by saying Posso avere? (Can I have?). Posso comes from the verb potere (can), whereas avere (to have) is used in the infinitive form.

Posso avere la bistecca? Could I have the steak?

Posso avere una bottiglia di Chianti? Can I have a bottle of Chianti?

 

For a more formal approach, you could replace posso with potrei (could):

Potrei avere due cappuccini per favore? Could I have two cappuccinos please?

Ask informally

3) Prendo

Prendo (I take) is the first person of prendere (to take) in the present tense. It means I’ll have. This is a more informal way of asking for things, whenever you feel like the environment is more friendly and doesn’t require a formal approach.

Prendo un caffè macchiato e due cornetti. I’ll have a macchiato coffee and two croissants.

Prendo l’insalata, ma senza carote per favore. I’ll have the salad, but without the carrots, please.

 

4) Per me

If you’re in a restaurant with other people, and the waiter goes around the table asking each person what they would like, you could use the expression per me (for me), and in case you’re ordering on behalf of other people you could say per lei (for her) or per lui (for him).

Per me gli spaghetti al ragù, per lei la zuppa di pomodori. For me spaghetti al ragù, for her the tomato soup.

Or, if you want to keep it simple…

If you think you’d struggle to remember any of the words above, don’t worry! There’s a trick you could use to effectively order food or drinks in Italian.

If you’re asking for one thing only, all you need to do is say the item you want, followed by per favore (please).

Un latte macchiato, per favore. One latte, please

Un panino al prosciutto e formaggio, per favore. A ham and cheese sandwich, please.

 

If you’re asking for more than one item, just remember to say how many you’d like, and to change the ending of the word to reflect the plural.

Due gelati al cioccolato, per favore. Two chocolate ice creams, please.

Tre panini al prosciutto, per favore. Three ham sandwiches please.

(Remember: in Italian it’s panino (singular) and panini (plural)!)

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