In Florence, a night out at a great restaurant tends to differ greatly from going out to eat in the U.S. Aside from the Italians’ separate courses (you order a pasta dish and a meat dish, if you’re hungry enough — meat doesn’t always come with a side), there are some other little-known ways an Italian restaurant experience varies from American.
So far in Florence, we’ve been lucky enough to be graced with copious amounts of free wine and liquor. It may be because we are young female Americans or Italians are just amazing people — I think it’s both. A small restaurant in an alley by il Duomo (domed church) gives bottles on bottles of free wine to student customers. We plan to return there soon.
If not free, wine is still very inexpensive in Florence. At the supermarket, good bottles of wine start around 3 euro ($4). Even in restaurants, a half-liter of wine can start around 7 euro ($9.33). Wine is everywhere, it’s inexpensive, and yes, it is delicious — red, white, dry or sweet.
The most un-American thing about Italian restaurants is as follows: YOU DO NOT TIP THE WAITER. There is often a service or seating fee included on a restaurant bill; even if not, tipping is considered inappropriate in Italy. I’ve become so accustomed to not figuring out a tip, I fear I may accidentally stiff many waiters once back in America.
Florentine waiters and waitresses bring out food as it’s prepared. This means once a dish is ready to be served, the customer gets it — there’s no balancing platters of eight meals at a time. Food is usually served very quickly, so I am rarely left waiting for long if my friends get served first.
Speaking of service, I’ve found that Florentine waiters and waitresses never visit the table to ask “Do you need a refill?” or “How’s everything tasting?” throughout the meal. It’s considered rude to interrupt the customers. Water often comes in a big pitcher and wine by the bottle so restaurant goers are kept happy without repetitive visits from the waiter.
Finally, the Florentine “condiments” are a little different from American. Where every table in any given American restaurant has salt, pepper and ketchup ready to use, Italian restaurant tables hold just oil and balsamic for the customary bread that comes before the meal. Extra pinches of salt aren’t needed here — things are cooked just as they need to be.blog comments powered by Disqus