7 Italian Cooking Terms Any Foodie Should Know

italian cooking terms to know

Knowing these Italian cooking terms will help you cook and order Italian food more successfully!

If you are like most people, you love Italian food: both cooking it and eating it. However, there are some terms you may come across in recipes and on menus that aren’t immediately understandable. So, to make sure you can understand your recipes to the fullest—and understand what you’re ordering—we’ve compiled a list of some of the essential Italian cooking terms to know. 

Al Dente

The literal translation is “to the tooth,” but al dente is often used when referring to pasta with some “bite” to it. This means not overcooking the pasta. You want to make it soft enough to wrap around your fork but hard enough so that it has a bit of a snap to it. 


In Italian, cacciatore means “hunter.” When used as an Italian cooking term, it is often used in phrases such as Pollo alla cacciatora, which means “hunter-style chicken.” Usually, dishes that are labeled cacciatore are prepared with wine, herbs, peppers, tomatoes, and onions. 


This refers to appetizers or starters. Typically, in Italian cooking, antipasti include specific, bite-sized snacks like cured meats, cheeses, olives, and bruschetta. 


While this may look and sound like the popular pizza topping, don’t be fooled! Peperone refers to peppers. If your dish has just one pepper, it will note “pepe.”


This word translates to “little orange.” It is used in Italian cooking when naming the deep-fried risotto balls. These arancini are typically stuffed full of peas, ragu, and mozzarella but can be made with various combinations. At Giolitti Deli, our arancini are filled with beef, peas, and cheese. 


Ribollita is a hearty Tuscan soup that includes leftover bread, beans, and a variety of vegetables. The literal translation of this soup is “reboiled,” referring to the soup’s leftover origins. 

Buon appetito!

Of course, once you have cooked or ordered your delicious food, you will want to find a way to celebrate it. The best way to do so is to wish everyone “Buon appetito” or “enjoy your meal!” Then, it’s time to “mangia,” or eat! 

Authentic Italian Cuisine From Giolitti Deli

Giolitti Deli is a full-service Delicatessen in Annapolis, MD, specializing in authentic Italian cuisine. Founded in 1992, we use the freshest ingredients to make time-honed recipes from scratch, with no MSG or preservatives. We believe in real food and offer many healthy options, including vegetarian and vegan menu items. At Giolitti Deli, we make our own sauces, mozzarella, grilled and roasted vegetables, bread, pizza dough, and desserts, and our sandwiches, salads, pasta, pizza, and entrees are made to order. Owner Mary Giolitti has combined her passion for great food and fine wine to offer Annapolis a true taste of Italy!

Team members who also make the business possible include Manager Kathy Hunter, Manager and Catering Director Cheryl Molesky, Head Baker Porfirio Diaz, Chef Alfredo Escobar, and Deli Manager Noe Merino. To contact us, please visit our contact page or give us a call at 410.266.8600. Also, be sure to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and our blog!

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