Traveling to a foreign land is not complete without tasting the local delicacy and menu of the place. It would not definitely be complete to travel in Italy without tasting the country's own pasta and pizza. Just imagine, it's like visiting the United States without tasting their burger, shake, fries and hotdogs.
It's a must to dine out at least once at an Italian's local restaurant, autogrill, osteria or the trattoria. But before you engage yourself to the sumptuous Italian dishes, you have to painstakingly order something right? Do not be scared in reading the Italian words in the menu. The thing is that, menus in Italian restaurants are entirely done in the Italian language. To clue you in further, you only need to know the food under Italian descriptions which follow the order of the meal. It is common in Italy to serve different plates for specific orders so expect to find groups of food under certain categories like before meals, main course and dessert.
To translate the Italian categories from the menu, we start with food like mozzarella in carrozza or crostini. These types of food are served "before the meal" so it's called L'antipasto in Italian.
First course servings already include pasta, risotto and soup (zuppa). It is called "Il Primo" in Italian. Next is the second course serving and it includes heavy meals and it is also considered as the main course. Meat, poultry or fish are what this meal offers and it is called by Italians "Il secondo".
Then, there's also the side dish and dessert after the main course. Usually, the Italian side dish consist of melanzane (eggplant), spinaci (spinach), or insalata mista (mixed salad), yes, it's all vegetables and it's called "Il contorno" by Italians.
Now the dessert is plainly called "Il dolce" and as always, it's mostly sweets. There are a wide variety of desserts served in Italian restaurants but most of it is made of custard.
There, now that you know how to properly identify Italian food from a menu, you can now truly enjoy your meal and your stay in Italy.