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Apr 22, 2009 07:03 AM

Sharing dishes--OK or too too embarassing?

My husband and I love to eat, but we don't have huge appetites and we definitely don't have a huge budget for our upcoming trip to Northern Italy. In the US we routinely order a single appetizer, two entrees and a single dessert. No one sneers. Can we do something similar on this trip? Then we'll have room for gelato later.

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  1. of course. We always share one or more courses and this is faciliated by giving us extra plates where we have only ordered one item in a course. We also swap plates at times,
    Remember that there will be primi (pasta/risotto/soup) before the secondi (entree/main course) and that often the primi can be more of a highlightof the meal than the mains. If I can generalize, we often share a salad, order two primi and share a main and a contorni (veg) if one appeals. Dessert is rarely worth eating in most italian restaurants - your gelato idea is a good one.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jen kalb

      We just came back from a 10 day trip to Italy with our two daughters and whatever you want goes! My daughter had fresh fruit one time only - we most often ordered pasta as the main course although it is not usually listed that we - we all tasted each others dishes and exchanged plates - it was NOT a problem - the biscotti are so delicious that I wouldn't miss this for some of the desserts!

    2. Ignore the horrendous generalisation above about desserts (dolce) in Italian Restaurants but Gelato is the highlight of any trip to Italy.

      There is absolutey no problem in sharing dishes in my experience. The most useful phrase in the Italian language? Una per due - one for two.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Tuscanlover

        when we started visiting italy 30 years ago (that sounds awfully long!) there were very few restaurants that even offered dessert on the menu. Fruit yes, but rather than ending a meal, sweets were more often something that one ate and purchased away from the meals, at specialist pastry shops or whatever. Coffee too was not traditionally taken at the end of our italian meals years ago. One would go to a cafe or bar instead Over the years the trend has been to more restaurant desserts - simple home style for the most part, I suspect primarily to meed the expectations of tourists, or perhaps italians' own expectations are changing. I like italian home style desserts fine and make them at home but our usual experience (and its just one family's opinion after all) is that desserts, when taken, have often been the low point rather than a high point of our italian meals . Of the dessers I have had, I can remember only a handful we enjoyed (Angelo e Colleoni, raspberry brulee, Armando - poached pears and also tiramisu (!!!) whereas I have been unimpressed over and over, even by touted items (recent examples Da Fiore - gelato with licorice, Giusti - the cherry tart etc). I dont see a lot of other people posting about great restaurant desserts either. So bottom line, it would be great if you and others highlight places which do good desserts so we can target these in future excursions..

        1. re: jen kalb


          I don't much bother with dolce. I just hate ridiculous generalisations.

          Saluti e baci.

          1. re: Tuscanlover

            I generalize because it can sometimes be useful. You know how fixated Americans are on dessert - sometimes the desserts here are the biggest course in the meal! Its useful for people to know if they havent been exposed before that this taste will not generally be satisfied in Italy.

            Hope you have a wonderful trip!

            1. re: jen kalb

              No, I simply do not accept that "this taste will not generally be satisfied in Italy". That is exactly the problem with generalisations - it cannot posibly be true.

              Great dolce at La Renie in Pancole near St Gimignano for example.

              1. re: Tuscanlover

                hey look if nothing else the generalization netted two good dessert recommendations!

          2. re: jen kalb

            Warning, this a is a repeat post.
            Osteria Dell’ Arco, Alba, Italy, December 2008
            "For dessert, I ordered the panna cotta with fresh pears. I had a glass of Moscato d’Asti with it and was blown away. I’ve had great wines with long finishes, but I’ve never had a dessert with a long finish. This is what the wine did to the dessert."

          3. re: Tuscanlover

            Yes, we frequently order "una per due" and there is never any problem or negative reaction.