Linguine linguistics

Don't get lost in that extensive menu. Use SunSpot's glossary of Italian food terms to impress your waiter.

By Alexis Sweeney

Special to SunSpot

February 7, 2000


Does the bevy of vowels on a standard Italian menu confound you when it comes time to order? Don't let a glut of As, Es, Is and Os intimidate you into making a bad selection. This glossary of common Italian restaurant fare should help you order with ease. Buon appetito!

Aglio e olio -- Garlic and oil, often served over pasta. Roberta cut back on the aglio e olio after a startling cholesterol reading.

Al dente -- Pasta that's not fully cooked. This al dente spaghetti is not too soft or too crunchy -- it's just right!

Antipasti -- An assortment of hot and cold appetizers. I don't see buffalo wings listed on this antipasti menu.

Baccala -- Dried salt cod; usually served on holiday eves. Vinnie remembers the days when his grandmother served baccala on Christmas Eve.

Bruschetta -- Bread toasted with garlic and olive oil. Bruschetta is a tasty antipasti.

Calamari -- Squid. It's often served fried as an appetizer. Fried calamari is a tasty antipasti, too.

Cannelloni -- Lasagna noodles rolled up around ricotta cheese, meat and other goodies, and baked in a tomato or cream sauce. This cannelloni contains everything but the kitchen sink.

Escarole -- A variety of endive resembling spinach. Momma says eat all your escarole.

Focaccia -- Flat, salted potato bread made with olive oil. We like sandwiches served on focaccia bread.

Formaggio -- Cheese. Smile and say formaggio!

Gelato -- A creamier, richer version of ice cream. Have you tried this new cherry-flavored gelato?

Parmigiana -- Made with Parmesan cheese. I like my salad to be parmigiana.

Pasta fagioli -- Thick, souplike mixture of macaroni and white cannelloni beans with a thin tomato sauce. Pasta fagioli is a comforting treat on a cold winter day.

Pizzaiola -- Spicy tomato garlic and oregano sauce, usually used on meats. The linguine pizzaiola is a house specialty.

Polenta -- Hot Italian corn meal. Gigi was full so she skipped the polenta.

Prosciutto -- Italian spicy ham. Tommy likes prosciutto and provolone sandwiches.

Saltimbocca -- Thin slices of veal rolled up with ham, cheese and sage. Maria prefers saltimbocca to parmigiana.

Vitello - Veal. I'll have the vitello parmigiano.