Not About Food


Italian Menus in the U.S. - Why Not Just Use English?


Not About Food 120

Italian Menus in the U.S. - Why Not Just Use English?

billyparsons | Aug 13, 2007 08:06 AM

Last year I was in Italy. I hit a lot of really great restaurants. And I do mean a lot. Funny thing I noticed is that even if I found a place that was bit more “Americanized”, they still wrote out the menu in Italian. The dishes weren’t titled in English with a translation below. Could you imagine a menu that said:

HAMBURGER: uno rinforza il tortino con due parti di pane. Sottaceti e cipolla.

Italians would probably shake their heads and walk out.

I have a friend that recently went to a nice Italian restaurant in Denmark and, same thing, it was all titled in Danish and described in the same language.

Does anyone else find it odd that Italian restaurants find it necessary to “school” their patrons, translating what the dish would be called if they were in Italy?

I was viewing the menu through the glass of a small Italian restaurant in Port Chester (NY) and noticed that the titles (written in big bold Italian) were sometimes as long as the descriptions written in English (smaller text and harder to read italic). Is it that we won’t believe it’s an Italian dish unless it’s first written in Italian?

There have been a number of great Italian restaurants breaking away from this tactic. I spent a few hours at Del Posto in New York City recently and was delighted to see their menu was, for the most part, straight forward English.

And I’d like to make sure everyone understands that I draw no correlation regarding the amount of Italian verbiage vs. the quality of the food. Just look at a menu entry from Roberto’s, the highest Zagat rated Italian restaurant in the Tri State area:

Orecchiette con salsiccia e broccoli di rapa $21
Orecchiette with Italian sausage and broccoli rabe sautéed in garlic and oil

Can anyone name other countries that mimic this practice?

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