Italian Food Glossary with PDF

The great thing about the Italian food vocabulary is that we already know many words since we’ve adopted them directly into the English language. Words like pizza, pasta, gelato, and spaghetti need no translation. 

Then there are the English words that we’ve borrowed from Italian food, but then modified them slightly, such as “zucchini” instead of the Italian word zucchine; or words that we’ve taken but then changed the meaning: for example, we’ve taken the Italian word peperoni, which refers to sweet peppers, and made it pepperoni, which are the sliced pieces of salami that we put on pizza.

This discussion of Italian food terms could go on and on, but it’s probably more useful just to list the food-related words in Italian and their translations into the food words we know in English. Because, if you want to eat like an Italian, you should probably learn to also talk like an Italian… at least at the dinner table!

And if you want to download this as an Italian Food Glossary pdf, just click the button here (no sign-up required):

Italian Food Dictionary

Acciuga:  anchovies 

Acerbo: sour; unripe 

Aceto: vinegar

Aceto balsamico:  balsamic vinegar

Acido:  sour, acidic; sharp-tasting

Acqua:  water; (acqua minerale is mineral water)

Affettati:  cold cuts, sliced meats

Affumicato:  smoked

Aglio:  garlic 

Agnello:  lamb

Agrodolce:  sweet/sour

Agrumi:  citrus fruits

Al dente:  firm; literally, “to the tooth”

Alici:  smelts 

Amaretti: crisp cookies made with bitter almonds

Amaretto: a sweet liqueur flavored with almonds

Amaro:  bitter; also after-dinner drinks

Ananas:  pineapple

Anguilla:  eel

Anguria:  watermelon

Anice:  anise

Anisette:  a colorless liqueur flavor with anise

Antipasto:  literally “before the meal;” appetizer course

Aragosta:  lobster

Arancia:  orange 

Arancini: fried rice balls with ragù and peas

Arborio:  medium-grain rice used for making risotto

Arrostito:  roasted (adj.)

Arrosto:  a roast (noun)

Asparagi:  asparagus 

Asperigno:  somewhat tart or sour

Assaggio:   a taste

Baccalá:  salted cod 

Barbabietola:  beets

Basilico:  basil

Ben cotto:  well done

Bere:  to drink

Bevande:  beverages, drinks

Bibita: beverage, drink

Bicchiere:  drinking glass

Birra:  beer

Biscotti: cookies (lit: twice cooked)

Bistecca: (beef) steak

Bocconcino:  any bite-sized food, a little mouthful 

Bollicine:  bubbles

Bosco:  woods; forest

Botte: (wine) barrel

Bottega:  shop

Braciola:  chop of cutlet, usually pork but also lamb, beef, or game (and even fish)

Braciole: stuffed rolls; can be meat or sometimes fish

Brasato:  braised beef or pot roast 

Brioche:  generically breakfast pastries; (pronounced as in French)

Brodo:  broth

Bruschetta:  toasted bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil 

Bucatini:  long thick spaghetti with a small hole 

Buongustaio: someone with good taste; gourmet

Burro:  butter

Caffè:  coffee, espresso

Calamari: squid

Calice:  wineglass

Cameriere:  waiter

Cannella:  cinnamon

Cannellini: white kidney beans

Cannoli:  pastry filled with ricotta

Capesante:  scallops

Capocollo: a hot, spicy ham

Caponata:  eggplant side dish

Capperi:  capers

Capra:  goat

Carciofi:  artichokes

Carne:  meat

Carote:  carrots

Carpaccio:  sliced raw beef 

Cassata: a Sicilian cream-filled layer cake

Cavolfiore: cauliflower

Cavolo: cabbage

Ceci:  chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

Cena:  dinner

Cibo:  food

Cicoria:  chicory

Ciliege:  cherries

Cinghiale:  wild boar

Cioppino: shellfish stew

Cipolla:  onion 

Colazione:  breakfast

Coniglio:  rabbit

Conserva: preserves

Cotolette: cutlets

Cotto: cooked

Cozze: mussels

Crema: egg custard

Cremoso:  creamy or thick 

Crespelle: crepes

Crostata:  a sweet or savory tart

Crudo:  raw; cured

Cucina:  kitchen; cuisine, style of cooking

Cuoco:  cook, chef

Dolce:  sweet

Dolci: sweets and pastries

Dragoncello: tarragon  

Equino:  equine as in horse, donkey, or mule meat

Fagiano:  pheasant

Fagioli:  beans

Fame:  hunger, appetite

Farcitura: stuffing or filling (noun)

Farcito:  stuffed, topped (adjective)

Farina:  flour

Farro: a whole grain similar to spelt

Fegato:  liver 

Fico:  fig

Filetto:  tenderloin, filet mignon

Finocchio: fennel

Fior di latte:  mozzarella cheese made from cow’s milk 

Focaccia: flatbread 

Formaggio:  cheese

Forno:  oven; bakery

Fragole: strawberries 

Frantoio:  olive press

Frittata:  an omelet 

Fritto:  fried

Frutta:  fruit

Frutti di mare:  seafood

Funghi:  mushrooms

Fuori stagione:  out of season

Gamberetti:  little shrimp 

Gambero:  shrimp

Giardiniera: mixed pickled vegetables

Gassato:  carbonated

Gnocchi:  pasta dumplings served with a sauce or in broth

Grana Padano:  a cow’s milk hard cheese

Granchio: crab

Grappa:  liqueur made from the must of grapes

Grissini: breadsticks

Grano:  grain; wheat

Griglia:  grill 

Gusto:  flavor 

Imbottito:  stuffed

Impanato:  breaded

Insalata caprese:  sliced tomatoes and mozzarella with fresh basil and olive oil

Invecchiato:  aged, seasoned

Lamponi:  raspberries

Lardo:  cured pork fat 

Lenticchie:  lentils

Lepre:  hare

Lesso:  boiled

Limoncello:  lemon liqueur 

Limone:  lemon

Lombata:  loin

Lumache:  snails 

Macinato:  ground; minced

Maiale:  pig; pork

Mandorle: almonds

Manzo: beef

Marinara: a plain tomato sauce

Marinare: to marinate

Mascarpone: creamy, soft, mild cheese

Melanzane: eggplant

Mela: apple

Melagrana: pomegranate

Menta: mint

Mercato: market

Merluzzo: cod 

Miele:  honey

Minestra: soup (usually thick)

Minestrina: thin soup

Minestrone: thick mixed vegetable soup

Mortadella: a large cured and spiced pork sausage

Mozzarella: a white soft cheese

Nocciole: hazelnuts

Noci:  nuts; walnuts

Odori:  herbs; (synonym: erbe) 

Olio di Oliva: olive oil

Origano: oregano

Ostriche: oysters 

Orzo:  barley

Pancetta:  salt-cured pork; similar to bacon

Pane: bread

Panella: fried chickpea bread

Pangrattato:  bread crumbs

Panna: cream

Panna Cotta:  literally “cooked cream,” served for dessert

Parmigiano: a hard cow’s milk cheese

Pasta Frolla:  pastry dough

Pasticcio:  pie, pastry, or cake

Pastella:  batter

Pecorino: sheep’s milk cheese

Peperoni: sweet peppers

Peperoncini: hot peppers

Pesto: a sauce from grinding ingredients, such as basil, pine nuts, Parmigiano, oil

Pepe nero: black pepper

Peperonata: stew of sweet peppers, onions, and tomatoes

Pesca: peach

Pesce serra: bluefish, mackerel

Pesce spada: swordfish

Piccante: spicy

Pinoli:  pine nuts

Piselli:  peas

Pollame: poultry

Pollo: chicken 

Polenta: a type of cornmeal

Porchetta: whole, deboned roast pig cooked with herbs and garlic

Porcini: meaty wild mushrooms

Polpette:  meatballs

Polpettone: meat loaf

Polpo, polipo: octopus

Pomodoro: tomato 

Pompelmo: grapefruit

Porco: pork

Porro: leek

Pranzo:  lunch 

Prezzemolo: parsley 

Prosciutto: cured ham

Provola: fresh buffalo’s milk cheese

Prugna:  prune, plum

Rabarbaro:  rhubarb

Ragù: meat sauce for pasta

Razza: skate; ray

Rape: broccoli rabe

Ribollita: Tuscan bread and vegetable soup

Ricotta: a fresh, mild cheese

Ripieni: stuffed

Riso: rice

Risotto: rice cooked and stirred with broth until creamy

Romano: a hard Pecorino (sheep’s) cheese

Rosmarino: rosemary

Ruspante:  free-range

Rustico: rustic, simple

Salami: ground meat cured, seasoned and shaped like a sausage

Salsa: sauce

Salsiccia: sausage

Sale: salt

Saltato: sautéed (literally “jumped!”)

Salumi: collective name for cured meats

Salvia: sage

Sambuca: a liqueur made from anise

Scaloppine: thinly sliced meat

Sedano:  celery

Scorfano: an ugly Mediterranean fish often used in soups

Seppia: cuttlefish

Sgroppino: a Venetian after dinner drink make from sorbet and vodka or other alcohol

Sgusciati:  shelled (meaning, a shellfish that has been taken out of its shell)

Sfogliatelle:  pastry filled with flavored ricotta

Soppressata: a type of salami

Spiedini: anything cooked on a skewer

Strega:  a yellow liqueur made from herbs

Stufato: stew

Sogliola:  sole

Speck:  a type of smoked prosciutto 

Spezie:  spices

Spigola:  sea bass, striped bass; syn: branzino 

Spinaci:  (pl.) spinach

Spuntino:  snack

Timo:  thyme

Tonno:  tuna

Torta: cake; tart

Totano:  squid

Triglia: red mullet

Trota:  trout

Unto:  oily, greasy

Uova: eggs

Uva:  grapes

Uvetta:  raisins 

Vaniglia:  vanilla 

Verdure: green vegetables

Vongole: clams

Vitello: veal

Zabaglione: dessert of egg yolks, sugar, and Marsala wine.

Zafferano: saffron

Zampone: sausage-stuffed pig’s hooves

Zenzero: ginger

Zeppole: a fried pastry

Zuppa: soup 

Zucca: pumpkin; squash, winter squash; 

Zucchero: sugar

Zucchine: summer squash, zucchini

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