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Nov 16, 2013 09:22 AM

How to tip at a Michelin * restaurant in Italy?

Given that gratuities are not a norm at restaurants in Italy, am I expected, and do most people, tip at a high end restaurant in Italy when service isn't included in the price? If people do tip, what's the expected percentage? Thanks for the help!

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  1. Service is almost *always* included in the price.

    That said, you're probably good to go with 10-15%.

    1. Service/gratuities in Italy is included in the final check. In any respectable Michelin restaurant, the price printed on the menu includes tax and service; if not, then there is a line printed on the menu stating that a certain percentage will be added to the price. The check presented to you will have that addition. Only unscrupulous places add any extra because they think tourists don't know any better. One is not obligated to leave any additional tip. My Italian friends rarely leave any additional tip and if they think the service is beyond what they are accustomed to, 5 to 10 euros for two people at a high end restaurant. During our annual two months stay in Italy (mainly Venice) for the past 20 years or so, we do the same.

      4 Replies
      1. re: PBSF

        Thank you! Ristorante Quadri in Venice told me their prices only includes VAT but not service. It's certainly good to know the expected tip amount is similar to the rest of the world - I prefer not to under tip at such a fine establishment!

        1. re: GourmetPiggy

          I have the similar reaction to Quadri's policy as Allende below. We ate at Quadri's bar this April and didn't notice on the menu nor was told that service was not included in the price. Our experiences at Alajmo's Le Calandre and their trattoria in Rubano is that the service is included in the price. In all our eating out in Venice, we never give a thought that the price did not include service and usually don't leave a tip. It has nothing to do with the place being "a fine establishment". Tipping etiquette is different all over the world; just have to learn what is proper for each.

        2. re: PBSF

          It's funny, we were in Rome recently and went to a place called Falcone (down the block from Pizzarium). Their food was really good and when we got the check, there was a 10% service charge added. When I questioned the waiter, he sent over the restaurant owner, who sat down at my table with the American menu, scrolled through the eight pages of that menu, and showed me the "10% service charges will be added to the bill" written on the last line of the menu..which he circled IN PEN on the plastic. Of course the next thing I said was that I'd like to see the Italian menu, and he brought this over as well, and went through the same routine, and yes, it was on the Italian version as well. When I asked him why this was, he lost it on us. He said, and I quote, "you Americans, you're all the same. You come here to Italy to eat our food, and you think that every Italian is in the Mafia". With that, he took 20 of the 40 Euro I had on the table, and announced (to a basically empty dining room), GET OUT!! He literally followed me outside to the sidewalk, and repeated the same line again. Talk about soup nazi' can't make this stuff up. Of all of the restaurants I've been in in Europe and especially Italy, I've never seen service added, nor have I ever been accosted by such a strange's too bad, his food was really, really good!!

          1. re: sockster

            here's another take on this issue

        3. Always a touchy subject.

          I pay cash in Rome (stay every year), even at fancy/pricey places. Leaving the change from the bill on the plate is good form. Leaving more than five per-cent of the tab is not something I would do.

          5 Replies
          1. re: steve h.

            Very definitely agree with steve h. Leaving more than five per-cent has them laughing at you as you walk out the door. They are hysterical. "We got another dumb American."

            Of course, people can leave whatever they want, but what linguafood said is just totally wrong if you're going to go by Italian norms. Unless someone wanted to make a show to his foreign friends, no self respecting Italian would ever leave 10-15 % of a total bill. Only Americans would do it and while the staff would be happy, they would say "those crazy Americans who haven't a clue about what we're about."

            Staff get paid good wages and benefits because this is their profession. They are not out of work actors as so many are in The States.

            @GourmetPiggy: You said: "It's certainly good to know the expected tip amount is similar to the rest of the world."
            There is no expected tip and Italy, in so many ways, operates very differently from the rest of the world. Do not leave a 15% tip. Do treat the staff with a lot of respect. It goes much much further than money and is appreciated.

            Over and over again on this site, people want to go where the locals go, eat what the locals eat and blend in with the locals. The locals do not leave 10-15% tips. It's interesting that Quadri would say that service is not included. In all of Alajmo's other places, it is. But then again, this is Venice, in San Marco. Nonetheless, the staff is getting paid full wages and a 10-15% tip is not expected, except by foolish Americans.

            1. re: allende

              Thanks to you, and to PBSF for, once again, covering this oft-debated topic with an informative and well-written explanation. I never understood why many tourists are unable to comprehend the fact that tipping customs in Italy are NOT the same as those in the US and that it is NOT appropriate to leave 15% of the bill on the table.

              1. re: allende

                Whether "Quadri" said it or a particular waiter said it is subject to debate. Servers in luxury restaurants in a place like Venice are certainly capable of trying to take advantage of ignorant Americans with or without the knowledge of their management - when the waiter at Da Fiore tried this out on us a few years ago it was pretty upsetting. Travelers who ignore local customs in insisting on tipping American scale are essentially paying twice for service and are making it more likely that their compatriots get fleeced . Like Erica says, its best to be respectful and appreciative and adhere to local custom - and like PBSF says, overtipping does not garner respect but the opposite.

                1. re: allende

                  My bad. It's different in Germany, and I agree that 15% really is pushing it.

                  When I went to a 2-star Michelin restaurant in Berlin, I felt awkward not leaving *any* tip, so I left a little under 10%. Unheard of in the US, obviously.

                  Thanks for the friendly clarification.

                  1. re: linguafood

                    Thanks everyone! I've definitely read a lot about not having to tip in Italian restaurants (which is the same custom as in Japan, where I heard staff see tips as demeaning/ disrespectful), so when I saw Quadri's response about service not being included in the price I was a little surprised. After all that's the only restaurant I've inquired where tip is not included (although they don't charge a flat fee which some other places do). Thanks you for all your clarifications, I definitely don't want to be seen as a "stupid american" and prefer to do what the locals do.

              2. well--- the fact is that waiters are paid a salary in italy and benefits. Tipping is not Italian, one would leave a tiny tip--- but not necessary anywhere.

                in USA waitstaff lives on the tips as they are paid little or nothing.