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antipasti, primi, secondi-- how to pace yourself?

Philadelphia, USA
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384 posts
12 reviews
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antipasti, primi, secondi-- how to pace yourself?

With both lunches and dinners out.....how to order the several courses at restaurants without overdoing it? Of course we will do picnics and find places that serve simple sandwiches for lunch, but is it okay to just order a secondi or maybe antipasti and primi in restaurants? (Not the five star ones, of course.) Okay to split a secondi after ordering two primi?

(Can't wait to try the faro zuppas.)

alaska
Destination Expert
for Siena
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1,702 posts
16 reviews
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1. Re: antipasti, primi, secondi-- how to pace yourself?

We often split an anti and primi and get our own secundo, then splitting a dolce. WE also alternate the nice big meal between lunch and dinner. Its not just about money but when traveling for weeks at a time it's hard to eat that much at every meal.

Montepulciano, Italy
Destination Expert
for Tuscany
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7 reviews
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2. Re: antipasti, primi, secondi-- how to pace yourself?

Oh I sympathise for it's so difficult at first. I recall vividly one of our first holidays in Italy together when we discovered a little trattoria down a back street that served sensational three course lunches and dinners for less than the price of a single pizza anywhere else, so for ten days we ate two three course meals a day plus the occasional ice cream. In photographs taken on this vacation I begin to look several months pregnant towards the end as I’ve put on so much weight!

Remember that this style of eating developed when people had a more labour-intensive life so needed all the sustenance that a four course lunch provides, and were still starving in the evening! Few Italians I know eat two big meals a day nowadays. Although it's slowly changing, especially in the northern cities where a sandwich snack at lunchtime and a larger meal in the evening is coming about, most professional Italians I know have a couple of courses at lunchtime and possibly only soup and fruit in the evening.

However, why not do what our Italian friends do and simply eat whatever you fancy, there really are no rules and restauranteurs are very accommodating. They often ignore an antipasta (tho’ when we're alone we tend to share an irresistible plate of crostini or salumi) - yet almost always order a primo. Here, maybe consider a soup rather than pasta as that's sometimes lighter, with the possible exception perhaps of zuppo di farro as that can be a delicious meal in itself! In summer, I sometimes order a salad such as panzanella (tomato and bread) to start. It's very common to share a secondo and note sometimes the dish is served with a small portion of vegetables on the side so you don't always need to order these separately at additional cost. Personally, I can never resist dolce but, again, one dish / two spoons is always accepted.

Note also that it's far easier to order smaller, single portion dishes in "osteria" rather than "ristorante" or even "trattoria" and this is where I usually lunch when I'm on my own. Your zuppa di farro should be on the menu, as will be delicious pane pomodoro - bread and tomato stew-like soup that makes a great lightish lunch or supper. Another good option for a light meal is in an enoteca where you often find plates of mixed cold cuts (salumi) or assorted crostini or pecorino or combinations of both.

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Italy
Italy
Europe
Sydney, Australia
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25,672 posts
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3. Re: antipasti, primi, secondi-- how to pace yourself?

I almost always have an antipasto and a main, Nick a pasta primi and/or a main. If there is a good gelato bar nearby we might skip the dolce.

Many of the antipasti or primi have luxurious things in them and may cost as much as a main course, say pasta with cream and truffle sauce, or peeled figs and proscuitto. There is no need at all to wade through the whole menu.

Our first meal ever in Rome we didn't know Italian menus and thus didn't order any vegetables. The waiter obviously thought we were mad. The veal duly arrived with no veges and the penny dropped.

We had an interesting experience in a beautiful restaurant in Norcia where I ordered an antipasto and Nick a primi and they served me first, waited till I had finished, then served his primi. Now we ask for them to come together.

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Rome
Rome
Lazio, Italy
Saint Marys, Ohio
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8,678 posts
36 reviews
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4. Re: antipasti, primi, secondi-- how to pace yourself?

We can't begin to eat an entire meal. We eat light for lunch, but for dinner we often have a salad or antipasti, primi, and a contorno (side), with a liter or bottle of wine. Dessert is always a gelato, both after lunch and after dinner. We really enjoy walking around the cities/towns after dinner and enjoying the monuments, bridges, churches, and piazzas lit up. I take a lot of pictures as we do this.

Eating this way and walking we usually drop about 6 pounds on every trip.

Philadelphia, USA
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384 posts
12 reviews
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5. Re: antipasti, primi, secondi-- how to pace yourself?

Grazie for the great advice. Won't worry about splitting dishes. Don't want to look pregnant at my age!

6. Re: antipasti, primi, secondi-- how to pace yourself?

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