Dinners in general are gastronomically pleasing experience. But of course, one can’t just shove every piece of food he/she sees on the dining table like a hungry lion, there must have some sort of class and etiquette involved in this sumptuous activity to at least justify the tasteful and delightful experience.
Now, in Rome, there are certain practices that you should avoid or shouldn’t do completely if you don’t want to get walk out in a restaurant in shame. So just before you partake in the feast, please do take note of these helpful tips.
This may sound bizarre, but while Rome, never expect for breakfast (unless your hotel provides it). Don’t expect your first meal of the day to be anything like back home. Most Italians start their day with a mere coffee, or a coffee and cornetto. Cereal is starting to hit grocery-store shelves, but it still seems a rare choice, and if you’re looking for good old scrambled eggs and pancakes, forget about it! If you can’t start your day without, either pick a hotel that exclusively offers Western-style brunch or plan to grocery shop and cook your own food.
Eating bread before the meal should be avoided as well (though is not totally prohibited). The sole reason for this is bread is an accompaniment to your primi and secondi, especially to dip into leftover sauces, not as a way to fill you up pre-dinner.
Another practice you should try to avoid is requesting parmesan for your pizza. It doesn’t even matter if you know how to say it (parmigiano). Putting it on pizza is seen as a sin, like putting Jell-o on a fine chocolate mousse. In fact, putting parmesan on anything with which it isn’t explicitly offered. Remember that many pasta dishes in Rome aren’t meant for parmesan. For example, the traditional cheese is pecorino, and that’s what goes on classics like pasta carbonara, calcio e pepe, and amatriciana. Not parmesan. As a rule of thumb: If they don’t offer it to you, don’t ask for it.
Finally, avoid eating on the go while in the city. Much like the Parisians, Romans look down on anyone nibbling down on bus, metro, or on foot. It’s anathema to the entire philosophy of eating: Dinner should be a meal that you sit and enjoy, preferably for two, even three hours. Eating while doing anything else is seen as sloppy, desperate (can you really be that hungry?), and missing the whole point. The one exception: Gelato, which you’ll see whole families tucking into on their Sunday evening strolls.