You Need an Awesome Italian Restaurant Menu Guide

Part of the experience of visiting Italy is discovering the nation’s incredibly rich cuisine. The trouble is when confronted with a Italian restaurant menu in Italian, it’s not always that easy to understand what you should order.

How many of you have played it safe and gone for the Italian restaurant menu items you recognise? Go on, admit it! What you need is an Italian restaurant menu guide – like this one.

Understand menus in Italian with this handy guide

Understand menus in Italian with this handy guide

Now, most food experts will tell you to avoid restaurants which offer bilingual tourist menus which come in Italian and English. Often, though by no means always, restaurants in Italy which offer customers menus in English do not offer the highest quality food. Moreover, they’ll probably offer familiar tourist fare such as the omnipresent lasagna or tortellini in brodo.

If you do venture a little off the beaten path and find an Italian restaurant menu which is 100% Italian, you probably order lasagna, or plump for something with spaghetti in the name. By doing this however, you are probably missing out on regional delights such as ‘cartoccio’ * simply because you have no idea what it is. This is perfectly understandable, but, alas, it means you are not getting the most out of eating in Italy.

The same applies to wines in that you’ll probably keep an eye out for familiar Chianti and ignore other fabulous Italian wines such as Soave, Dolcetto, Verdicchio, Fiano di Avellino or Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, to name but a few.

What you need is a solution, something which can help you work out just what is on that Italian menu. Well,  Andy Herbach has a solution for you: Eating & Drinking in Italy: Italian Menu Translator & Restaurant Guide – it’s small and easy to take with you when traveling in Italy.

Those who have invested in Herbach’s guide are very happy they did:

This book is awesome, we live in Italy most of the year and dining out has proven to be difficult at times. This book is small enough to carry with you and easy to understand and very informative. A real must for anyone traveling or dining out in Italy.”  Bonnie K. Graham

I just wanted to say thank you to the author of this book. I have been to Italy many times but still always had a difficult time ordering. Usually the places I go in Italy do not have English translations for their menus. I traveled for about a month last year throughout Italy and went to many different little towns and no matter what they had on the menu — it was in this book! You guys are awesome!”  Lisa Peterson

Herbach’s guide does contain restaurant recommendations, but not all readers have been too happy with these, so it’s probably best to identify places which sound good or have been reviewed using other means, but you can use this book to help you understand menus in Italian more or less wherever you choose to eat.

Before coming to Italy, or while you are lazing about on the beach, become familiar which the cuisine in the area of Italy in which you find yourself – menus change from one region to another and while some dishes can be found all over Italy, the most interesting are often only to be found in the areas in which they are specialties.

You can even use this book to help you out with an Italian restaurant menu in eateries in your own country which have menus in Italian – Italian restaurants in San Francisco have a habit of doing this apparently.

Do yourself a favor and order a copy before coming to Italy, or why not give a copy as a gift to a friend who is Italy bound? It’s not expensive either: Eating & Drinking in Italy: Italian Menu Translator & Restaurant Guide and there’s a handy Kindle edition too: Eating & Drinking in Italy: Italian Menu Translator & Restaurant Guide

The only time this book is not likely to be of much help is when you find yourself in a restaurant with a ‘spoken’ menu and such eateries are not that uncommon in Italy. Still, after having studied Eating and Drinking in Italy a little, you’ll stand a fighting chance of understanding just what is on that spoken menu.

*Cartoccio is a spaghetti and seafood dish cooked in paper and it is delicious!

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  1. says

    Hi Alex,

    Liked your review of Herbach’s Italian Menu Guide. If you liked the book, you might also be interested in
    a new iPhone app that translates Italian food and restaurant menus to English. See for a preview.

    We would like to give you a free promotional copy of this app to try out as it might be a tool of interest to your readers.

    It is aimed at English-speaking visitors to Italy as well as Italian food lovers. We believe it to be the first-ever app that has been designed to help travellers read and pronounce Italian restaurant dishes, unlike other general translation and phrasebook apps.

    If you are interested, this app will launch next month (September 2013) and you can sign up for the launch on . (Note, the promotional copies are only available after this launch date.)

    If you want a full press-release and images for your blog, you can find them here:

    Please send me a note if you are interested or if you have any queries, and I will make the arrangements.


    Elise Taylor

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