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Primi and secondi piatti

Boston...
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114 reviews
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Primi and secondi piatti
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Forgive me for another ignorant question, but is it expected that each person order an antipasto as well as a first and second course at restaurants? That would seem like too much food. Unless portions are typically tiny — are they? (I am coming from the US where portions are large by European standards, but even correcting for remembered portions in France, three courses seems a bit much.) What about a couple sharing the antipasto, then ordering first and second courses and sharing those as well? Is sharing frowned upon in Italian restaurants? Thanks once again for the pointers.

Montreal
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17,790 posts
1. Re: Primi and secondi piatti
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There is no obligation to order three courses, and courses can be shared; ask for "uno in due". But it might be frowned upon if a couple decided to share *every* course.

Portions are not tiny (except in some upscale restaurants), but they are smaller than in the US. Bear in mind also that, with few exceptions, the second course is *only* meat or fish. Vegetables, potatoes, salads ("contorni") have to be ordered separately; contorni can also be shared.

Chicago, Illinois
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43 posts
24 reviews
39 helpful votes
2. Re: Primi and secondi piatti
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For most dinners, we shared an antipasti and then each ordered our own dish, sometimes pasta, sometimes fish. There was never any pressure to order more courses. Portions are smaller than the US, but it is plenty of food.

San Diego
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3. Re: Primi and secondi piatti
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I have shared a pasta first course and then ordered my own main dish with no probs. I also would not share every course!!

Boston...
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114 reviews
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Would it be okay for one person to order a pasta (primo piatto) and for the other to order a meat or fish dish (secondo) and then for the two of them to discretely "trade" parts of their dishes? Thanks again.

Montreal
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17,790 posts
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No, it wouldn't. For one thing, except in touristy restaurants, they would not be served at the same time: secondo *follows* primo. For another, pasta and secondo are never eaten together. Again, in touristy restaurants, almost anything goes.

Le Marche, Italy
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29 reviews
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My husband and I never eat three courses and we almost always share at least one course.

First of all, we order *either* an antipasto *or* a primo, never both. In a group, an antipasto might be shared among several people who each are ordering a primo, but I have never seen anyone order an antipasto and a primo to be eaten by the same person.

For the second course, one of us usually orders a secondo and the other orders a contorno, and we share them.

Sometimes my husband orders a primo and I order just a secondo. In that case, we ask them to bring them out together and it has never been a problem. We've done this in our own town, which is not a touristy town by any stretch of the imagination. I never eat pasta in the evening, so if he wants pasta, and if none of the antipasti appeal to me, this is the best way to do it

Le Marche, Italy
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37,771 posts
29 reviews
47 helpful votes
7. Re: Primi and secondi piatti
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I have also fairly often seen people order an antipasto *after* their primo, in place of a secondo. This is completely out of order, but the composition of an antipasto is often similar to that of a secondo. For example, in a seafood restaurant, a plate of mussels is often offered as an antipasto, but it can also make a nice secondo after a plate of seafood pasta. Or a cheese antipasto might substitute for a meat dish.

Most restaurants are very accommodating in this respect. Many Italians are now following strange diets, such as those that have proteins at one meal and carbs at another, but never both together. It's no inconvenience to the restaurant to present the dishes out of order, because they're preparing all of the courses simultaneously in the kitchen. However, some things would be totally beyond their comprehension. I wouldn't try to order a side of spaghetti, as you often see offered in the US, because they really wouldn't know what you were talking about. And if you do order both a primo and a secondo, the primo has to come first.

United States
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449 posts
9 reviews
7 helpful votes
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Very rarely do I order an antipasto, a primo and a secondo (gotta leave room for dessert!)...

I usually share an antipasto with my husband then go for a primo OR a secondo... Ordering a pasta dish (primo) or a meat/fish dish (secondo) and sharing it is tacky... You can grab a bite from the other person's plate but def not sharing...

Montreal
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17,790 posts
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Bvlenci, That is what I meant: Pasta together with meat on the same plate is a no-no. Yes, they'll bring the pasta and the secondo at the same time if asked to, but except in the most touristy restaurants they will shudder if pasta is transferred to the secondo plate and vice-versa.

I sometimes wonder about all this concern from Americans about having to eat too much in Italy. Do these people, if eating out in a good Italian restaurant (i.e., not Olive Garden and its ilk) in the US, ask to share every course?

United States
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449 posts
9 reviews
7 helpful votes
10. Re: Primi and secondi piatti
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Lighten up Zerlina, we're just talking about food... :)))

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