Restaurants, Trattorias, and Osterias
When you’re searching for dining options in Italy, there are essentially three types of restaurants in Italy: restaurants, trattorias, and osterias, although markets, food halls, food specialty shops, bars, and enotecas specializing in regional Italian wines are abundant in nearly every town and city.
In Venice, you’ll even find a new name for bar with a completely unique food culture — the bácaro — home to the famous Venetian cicchetti.
Traditionally, restaurants in Italy are the most formal of establishments and typically more expensive than the other two. You can expect a menu of the chef’s creations for the day, often a sommelier, linen tablecloths and napkins, an appropriate amount of silverware for a meal from the antipasto through both main courses, and hopefully service matching the price.
A trattoria is less formal than the restaurant. There are daily specials but those won’t match the creativity offered by a chef in a formal restaurant and the ambience is more relaxed and perhaps a bit noisy.
The most casual and smallest of the three is an osteria with a fairly limited menu of simple Italian food items like pizza, pasta dishes, sandwiches, and sometimes the meat or fish of the day. Some are communal with tables shared with other guests, a nice way to converse with locals and brush up on your Italian. Buon appetito!