Just arrived in europe...question regarding restaurants. Kind of silly. Do you just sit down at any of the outdoor tables you see, or do you have to be seated? Is it ok just to order a main dish and no appetizrs or salad? When do we order the wine? If someone could just run me through an ordering scenario, I could breathe easier, thanks!
Kristin, first I want to say I'm jealous. I am craving good Italian food. Seat yourself. I never remember having to be seated, its normal to grab an empty table. Order wine as soon as they come to you (I always like trying the house wines). Its perfectly fine to just order a main dish without any app or salad (I rarely do). Normally when you order, you'll order everything at once, so if you want dessert, be sure to order that also when ordering your main meal. Enjoy, you'll die over the food!
I thought it was expected of us to order all the courses but boy, that really adds up (money wise) so we ended up eating more pizza and paninis than I wanted to. The one time we did just order the main course, that's all we got--just a little meat--no veggies.
There were a few places in Paris that had a plat de jour (I'm sure that isn't spelled correctly) and it was a nice meal for a good price. We never found that in Italy.
Connie is correct. In Italy, the main dish is just that. If you want a side with it, you'll need to order a salad or one of the contorni (sides dishes). If you order pasta, it will be served before the main dish. You can wait to order dessert until after your main dish in Italy. Coffee is served at the very end of the meal in both France and Italy.
You can skip the 2nd course entirely, as per one of Rick's suggestions (cut/pasted from the script of his "Caesar's Rome" TV episode):
"Travelers can enjoy better restaurants without going broke by indulging in the appetizers and first courses. I find the antipasti and pasta dishes more varied and interesting than the more expensive secondi or entree courses."