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The Traditional Italian Meal Structure

a person sitting at a table in a restaurant

As an Italian restaurant, our menu tends to be separated into a specific structure focused on what you expect to see in Italy as you sit down for dinner. While ordering from every course is unnecessary, most will order at least two. Another difference from the Italian style is that meals may last over two hours, depending on your company. In America, we often choose our meals based on convenience, but let's dive into what a traditional meal structure in Italy looks like.


The Aperitivio is a pre-meal drink designed to cleanse and wet your palate before beginning the first course. This drink is meant “to open” the stomach before dining, as the word is derived from Latin.


This traditional Italian meal starts with something to nibble on before the main courses commence. These appetizers can include cold and hot dishes like cheese, soppressata, and bread.


The primo is the first course to choose from; Pasta is served first as another appetizer but not the main event. You may also see soup, rice, and even polenta on the menu.


Finally, we have reached the main course. This second course in Italy consists of small portions of chicken, meat, and fish, kept simple as the primo course includes rich kinds of pasta. 


The last item a restaurant will serve you is Dolce or sweet. The dolce is not only a way many Italians complete their lunch or dinner but also the way many begin their day.


At last, the digestivo or digestive is an after-dinner liqueur like limoncello and grappa. This beverage is served in a small glass and taken straight as a shot. This tradition is meant to aid digestion after a substantial meal with multiple courses.

Visit Scampo in Beacon Hill

As the former Charles Street Jail, Scampo is a gem upon the rough. Our Italian-inspired menu offers an unrivaled culinary experience. Italian dishes are unique, and their history has proved that they are not like most foods. Call today for a reservation, and in the meantime, browse our menu. We look forward to seeing you soon.