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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

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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.