Six Italian Cooking Terms

You love Italian food, and you have no problem picking out the most authentic spots, but how familiar are you with Italian cooking words on a menu? Here are six Italian cooking terms to know.

Al Dente

Al dente literally translates as “to the tooth,” and we got in more detail about this common term in our pasta preferences post.  When it comes to pasta, al delta is typically the ideal. It means the cooked pasta still has a little bite to it, somewhere in between undercooked, which is too raw, and overcooked, which is mushy. Al dente is also useful in cooking vegetables, since the same degree of tender snap is best.


Antipasti describes appetizers or starters – the traditional first course. Antipasti, or the singular antipasto, often includes a selection of cured meats, cheeses, olives, marinated vegetables, and usually bruschetta.


If you’re guessing this relates to pepperoni, we’re doing to stop you right there. Peperone actually means peppers, and the singular is a jaunty pepe.


Cacciatore translates to “hunter,” and is used to describe dishes that are served “hunter-style.” In other words, they’re prepared with wine, herbs, tomatoes, onions and peperone (you know this one!).


This Tuscan word describes a dish enjoyed throughout all of Italy. Panzanella is a specific kind of salad that includes tomatoes and delicious toasted bread.


Ceci is a little word for a little legume – chickpeas. Ceci can often be found in a variety of soups and pasta dishes.

Look for these classic Italian cooking terms, and others, the next time you enjoy a meal at La Famiglia Ristorante Italiano in Reno.

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