Define: Italian Meals, Course by Course

Traditionally, the main meal in Italy is a lengthy affair, composed of a number of small courses. Dishes typically are relatively simple, with seasonal and fresh ingredients.

Related To:

Antipasto 
Before the meal comes the antipasto, which translates to just that — "before the meal" — and it is meant to be a little something to whet the appetite. Antipasti can be either simple or complicated, and they often include olives, vegetables, salad and bruschetta.

Primo 
The first course of the actual meal, called the primo, is typically a small serving of soup, pasta, gnocchi, rice or polenta.

Secondo 
The secondo is a small serving of fish, chicken or meat, often grilled and served without sauce.

Contorno 
The contorno is a simply cooked seasonal vegetable to accompany the secondo. One or more may be served at a meal.

Dolce 
Italians finish the meal with a dolce, which means "sweet," and it is traditionally fruit or biscotti. You might also try a fruit pie, called a crostata, but fancy desserts, such as cakes, are more likely to be reserved for special occasions.

Next Up

Guide: Salumi & Italian Meats

You can find cured meats all around the world, but nowhere is the tradition as rich as in Italian cuisine.

Thirsty Thursday: The Negroni

In need of inspiration for your post-work libation? Give the Negroni a try. This Italian cocktail is usually enjoyed as an aperitif, so it’s a perfect pick at happy hour.

Pantry: Italian Essentials

A well-stocked pantry makes whipping up delicious Italian meals a snap. Countless dishes can be made from ingredients on hand, but with a quick dash through the express line for perishables, the options are limitless.

On TV

Pizza Masters

7:30am | 6:30c

Brunch at Bobby's

8:30am | 7:30c

Brunch at Bobby's

9:30am | 8:30c

Burgers, Brew & 'Que

10:30am | 9:30c

Burgers, Brew & 'Que

11:30am | 10:30c

Carnival Eats

12pm | 11c

Carnival Eats

12:30pm | 11:30c

Carnival Eats

1pm | 12c

Carnival Eats

1:30pm | 12:30c

Carnival Eats

2:30pm | 1:30c

Man v. Food

3pm | 2c

Man v. Food

3:30pm | 2:30c

Man v. Food

4pm | 3c

Man v. Food

4:30pm | 3:30c

Man v. Food

5pm | 4c

Man v. Food

5:30pm | 4:30c

Good Eats

6pm | 5c

Good Eats

6:30pm | 5:30c

Good Eats

7pm | 6c

Good Eats

7:30pm | 6:30c
On Tonight

The Zimmern List

9:30pm | 8:30c

The Zimmern List

1:30am | 12:30c
What's Hot

The Best Thing I Ever Ate

Sundays 10|9c

So Much Pretty Food Here