Ristorantes are the nicest places to eat. Usually people dress up and plan on having a nice meal for a celebration at a place like this. They are also the easiest to identify, because of the obvious similarity between restaurant and ristorante.
Trattoria, Ostaria, Pizzeria, Paninoteca, Enoteca, and Pasticceria are all other versions of food places.
- An authentic Trattoria serves local food specialties, but the term is sometimes used in larger areas to sound more "folksy." Usually you can view the menu outside these places and will be able to know if they serve something you are interested in eating without going inside.
- An Osteria is a more casual place, more like an American "bar and grill." Often an Osteria is a family run establishment that serves local wine and food. An Italian told me, it is "where the truck drivers eat" so that means it serves good food and is affordable.
- The Pizzeria is just what it sounds like. It is a place that prepares authentic Italian pizzas, usually over a wood fired grill.
- A Paninoteca sells bread. Sometimes it also sells sandwiches to take with you.
- An Enoteca is a wine bar, which can serve appetizer-type foods, such as cheese and salami.
- A Pasticceria is one of my personal favorites. These businesses sell pastries, cakes and sweets. Occasionally they will sell some pizzas or other foods you can take with you.
Of course, I have forgotten to mention a familiar term to Americans, the "bar." A bar in Italy is primarily a coffee shop, but it serves pastries or sandwiches. However, there is usually wine and types of liquor available as well.
Who knew it would be so complicated to figure out where to grab something to eat? I have left out a good deal of other types of shops, because I am still learning what some of these shops are!
Thanks to Cristiana, the teacher and guide to my "Benvenuti" class for helping me learn this stuff!