Restaurants in Italy were once distinguished by name. So an osteria would be different from a ristorante and different from a trattoria. Today it’s not so simple as owners choose names on a whim.
But I was lucky because while in Modena, my friend Andrea from Taste Bologna, helped me understand the history of different types of restaurants in Italy.
Not surprisingly you can order alcohol here. Locals also come for their morning coffee, inexpensive snack or sandwich during the day. You will find people standing up at the bar, but be warned if you choose to sit at a table and a waiter serves you the price will be higher.
The same concept as a bar but with another name. Come here for a drink and bite to eat at night or inexpensive snack and caffé during the day.
A pastry shop and café. If you’d like more elaborate pastries or sandwich with a morning cappuccino head here.
A wine bar, but you can also find cheese and cured meats. Some may have a kitchen, which would also include pizza or simple main dishes.
While osteria once meant a traditional wine bar with fairly priced food, it is not so simple today.
Back in the day osteria meant a place of relief with wine and accommodation. The term “osteria” now often reflects a desire to cook traditional dishes but price can vary. Most notably in Modena, Osteria Francescana is a Michelin star restaurant with the price tag to boot.
Generic restaurant, expect to pay more than a pizzeria but the price varies wildly. Take note that in any restaurant, no matter the name, it is customary to order more than one course.
Exactly as it sounds, although some are more formal with a dining room and pasta options while others are for take-out. Regardless, this is a great place to dine on a budget. In some cases you can buy a slice of pizza. Ask for pizza al taglio and point to what you’d like, how much and pay by the weight.
Cafeteria-type restaurant, great for those on a budget.