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Feb 21, 2007 12:32 AM

Cuts of Meat in Italian (aka how to avoid kidneys)?

Last night we went out to eat at the mildly tasty and new Osteria dell'Memmo "I Santori" (formerly Il Primoli...) which incidentally is right down the street from Orso 80 and does the same sort of thing where they pile antipasti della casa on your tables. After that, I ordered "Agnello con Patate Arroste" - Lamb with roast potatoes - my Italian's that good, at least - and I got a really bony chunk (not a recognizable "cut") of stringy meat with a kidney attached. I usually make it a point not to eat pieces of the excretory system - that's just a personal preference - so I was wondering if someone could explain the cuts of meat: bistecca, filetto, lombo, lombarda (or was it lombardino?) so I can order more specifically next time. Also, is it uhhh... normal for when you order "pork" or "lamb" that some restauranteurs just feel free to give you whatever hunk of the animal they've got? (Was I wrong to expect a shoulder, leg, or chop?) I have gotten extraordinarily bony/fatty chunks of meat elsewhere, too - with very little actual meat. I prefer ordering secondi out because I make tons of pasta at home, so any guidance would be really, really appreciated.

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  1. I think that you can expect to get pieces of meat with bones in them if you order a dish that just names the meat and that does not specify the cut. Lots of people (me included) think that bones make the dish more tasty and like to gnaw the bones. In my experience Its more uncommon to get the kidney unless you order a dish of kidneys directly.

    I didint find a good online link with the info you want - usually this kind of stuff is in phrasebooks or menu translator books, which are readily available.

    I think filetto is going to be "filet" bistecca, beefsteak , lombo, I think is roast (should be a hunk), costelette = chops , scallopini=boneless thin slices, etc. (but in rome scottaditto would likely be baby lamb chops), the names are variable around italy, too. Terms like "grigliata" or "arrosto" (my spelling may be off) will also give you clues. You are going to get the tasty bony bits in lower cost places mostly - the more upscale places will be more likely to give you the plainer protein humks like lombo di vitello.

    Hope you have sampled "coda" (stewed Roman oxtail, wonderful)

    1. Your best bet might be to buy a copy of the Marling Menu Master for Italy. Marling MM are probably the best menu guides available. They translate menu & food terms in a foreign language (Italian, French, German, etc.) into English and from English into a foreign language.