Reading Italian Menus: Il Secondo (cont’d)

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel

As I mentioned in the last blog post on this topic, when I first traveled to Italy as a college student, I had difficulty at first when I tried to read and order at an Italian restaurant. I thought back to how many lessons I had had in Italian through high school and college and then realized that the reason was simple: Italian courses in school did not focus on the vocabulary I needed as a traveler.

Years later, when members of the Italian-American Society of Peoria asked me if I could help them with Italian before a trip to Italy they had planned—for vacation or to visit long-lost Italian relatives—I remembered my own difficulties, and I created the Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books. These books focus on the vocabulary and phrases we all need to know to enjoy our trip to Italy!

Along these lines, members of the Conversational Italian! Facebook group have been discussing their favorite main course dishes and, of course, these include fish dishes. The Italians know many wonderful ways to prepare fish—as you would expect, because they are surrounded by the sea and fresh fish are in abundance. They also import fish from their Scandinavian neighbors.

Fish is also important as an appetizer in Italy. One of my favorites is called “fritto misto,” fresh fish and shellfish fried in a light batter and presented beautifully on a large platter for all to share.

I’d love to hear about more Italian favorites! Continue the conversation on this blog, and join us on our Facebook group if you like!

Read the list below of common fish and shellfish that are served as a delicious main course or appetizer in Italy, taken from Chapter 17 of Conversational Italian for Travelers. See if this list reminds you of one of your favorite Italian dishes!


Fish and Shellfish in Italian


la sogliola filet of sole
la trota trout
il merluzzo cod
il baccalà cod (dried)
 il pesce spada swordfish
il branzino sea bass
il tonno tuna
il salmone salmon
i calamari squid
la seppia cuttlefish (like squid)
i gamberi shrimp
gli scampi large, shrimp-like crustacean from the
Mediterranean Sea
le capesante scallops
l’aragosta lobster
le cozze mussels 
le vongole clams
le ostriche oysters
le acciughe anchovies
le sardine sardines
l’anguilla eel
i granchi clams
le lumache snails
il polpo octopus
l’aringa affumicata smoked herring


Learn Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers Textbook

Available on  www.Learn Travel

2 thoughts on “Reading Italian Menus: Il Secondo (cont’d)

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.