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Dinner budget

Wife has us budgeted for roughly 45 euros a night for the two of us for dinner. Nothing fancy and we are not big wine drinkers - she may have a glass with dinner but not I.

Is that being realistic? We will be paying with our credit cards but I just thought that she was being a little too optimistic there......

Posted by
13161 posts

I agree with you.

I travel solo and drink only water (not that house wine is more expensive than bottled water), and I have rarely had a sit-down meal in an Italian restaurant that cost less than 20 euros, including meals in places considerably less expensive than Rome. I was last in Italy in 2015 and generally chose just two courses. I'd only be reasonably sure of coming in within your wife's budget if I ate at a pizzeria every night. Much as I like Italian pizzas, I don't want that every night.

Your wife may not be aware that the main course (secondo) generally does not include vegetables, so if you want a well-balanced meal you need a side order of vegetables. And secondo + contorno doesn't allow you to try a pasta or something from the antipasto list. I agree with Rick that the pastas and appetizers are often the most interesting things on Italian menus.

With the two of you traveling together, you have the significant advantage of being able to order multiple courses and share them. Still, I think 45 euros for two is extremely optimistic.

Edited to add: I don't mean that I think your cost is going to be a great deal more than 45 euros, just that I think it is consistently going to exceed that figure.

Posted by
410 posts

Last spring in Sicily, my casual pizza or pasta + 1 glass of wine dinners were running €16-€22. A nicer dinner (2 or maybe 3 courses) with a glass of wine ran about €30. A splurge dinner with wine was €50. In a not-so-touristy area in Rome, pizza for 3 plus 1 drink each was €35.

Posted by
2810 posts

I think that budget is tight, but you may be able to manage it by alternating between simpler (under 45 euro) and nicer (over 45 euro) dinners so that they average out to around your budget. You may also have to look for restaurants that don't have a service charge, which would limit your options.

Posted by
3048 posts

Our meals have consistently run 25-35 each with 1/2 carafe of house wine. More if you can't resist those lovely deserts or wonderful after dinner coffees. Keep in mind those are averages, sometimes dinner is a picnic on the balcony of our apartment, or a pizza.

Posted by
4150 posts

I like to keep things simple.

What does "dinner" cost you at home? I'm not very familiar with the cost of living (or eating) in Charlotte, NC but I'm guessing it's similar to costs in most other US cities of the same size.

Like much of western Europe, I think the costs for dining out in ITaly are not terribly different. If you stick to the main tourist areas (whether in Charlotte or Cortona) or want fine dining, you'll pay more; if you shop around or order carefully, you'll pay less. Overall Italy may be slightly more expensive than at home, but not dramatically so. Keep this sort of perspective and you can remove a lot of complexity and worry.

That said, you can always fine more (and less) expensive places anywhere if you put in a little effort (or if you're careless/clueless). And some countries certainly do cost more (eg Scandinavia) while others clearly costs less (eastern Europe). For dining in Italy, I'd figure it costs about the same as at home (for me, Seattle), maybe plus a tiny bit more.

Posted by
981 posts

Hi Herf,

You could do it for about 45€ at a pleasant restaurant; especially since you won't be ordering wine. If you go to a more touristy restaurant, you will pay the higher price of course.

For me, I enjoy Pinot Grigio, so I would order one glass with my dinner. It was 5€, but I enjoyed it, and they weren't skimpy with the wine. I would think a pasta dish or pizza would be inexpensive compared to the second course -- meat or fish and vegetables. But, I guess it depends on the restaurant.

Some restaurants charge for bread. If you and your wife are not bread eaters, then perhaps tell the waitstaff ahead of time as you sit down. It's usually about 1,30€ to 1,50€ for most average restaurants.

Most evenings, I ate at my local restaurant which is close to Termini. But, the location may not work for some travelers.

As I walked through Campo de' Fiori and Piazza Navona a few times, the restaurants seemed full, but the outside tables appeared to be seated with travelers.

There is Ristorante Campo de' Fiori on via della Corda, 3 right near the market area down a little alley, very, very good with reasonable prices. Check out their menu.

If you pay by credit card, just make sure to pay the amount in euro and not the DCC.


Posted by
204 posts

Thanks all - and thanks for the reminder Girasol. We had to make sure that we didn't do Dynamic Conversion when we were in Prague a few months ago!

Posted by
4835 posts

45 euro = $50

If you can dine at home for that then you can do so in Italy.

It will depend on where you are and what kind of restaurant you choose.

How much you spend for dinner will likely be affected to some degree by what you do for lunch. You may want to think of a budget on a 'daily' basis, not just dinner.

Posted by
725 posts

There are wonderful inexpensive restaurants and eateries in Rome, and there are also terrible expensive restaurants in Rome. Well, not really terrible, but restaurants which make you wonder whether the price was worth it.

An anecdote: I was in Paris in around 2006 and wanted to eat at a famous brasserie. We were seated, and the menu seemed expensive to my ex-wife and my inlaws. Dishes were selected on the basis of price, and at the conclusion of the meal, I felt like I was missing something. Two years later, without the inlaws, I decided to return and order what I wanted without concentrating on price. We both had lovely meals, wine, dessert, and an after dinner cognac. It was an exceptional meal, one I have remembered over the years. The bill for two was about 30% more than the previous dining experience. So, yes, it was more expensive, but it was exponentially better.

How often do you get to go to Rome? The dining experiences are part and parcel of the vacation. Rather than low end budgeting for dinner meals (which are often more expensive than lunches), be creative. Eat your larger meal at lunch with pizza or aperitivo munchies for early dinners. Divert some "souvenir" money (chachkes like "kiss me, I'm Italian" aprons or St. Peters Basilica coasters) into experiences like seeking out really great meals that, while not expensive, are still priced a little higher, but are of amazing quality.

Posted by
204 posts

Well.....we definitely aren't going to cheap out. Just that we wanted to get a rough idea of what to budget for the trip. She is a VP with Bank of America so financial concerns are her forte, lol

Posted by
7557 posts

Just FYI, a soft drink with dinner will cost you more than a glass of wine. And remember, no tipping.

One more tip (no pun intended): If you're ever in a hurry to leave a restaurant and can't/don't want to wait for the check, you can go up to the cash register to pay. Just show them where you were sitting and they'll ring you up. Italians do this all the time.

Posted by
19456 posts

I personally think 45 E is little on the low side for two. We budget a 100E and are under that most of the time. We tend to skip lunch with the idea of having a really nice, white table cloth, sit down, evening dinner so we might tend to spend a bit more. And do not expect your check without asking for it. And please don't scribble in your hand. Just politely ask for, Check please.

Posted by
204 posts

I think we were just spoiled in Prague, where everything is so reasonable. Spain and France were a couple of years ago and particulars have been somewhat forgotten, lol

Posted by
1049 posts

I wouldn't go budget for dinner in Italy. Italian cuisines are among the best in the world. I want to eat my very last dinner there.

Posted by
204 posts


We don’t intend to go cheap. Just that when we ask what type of budget to set aside we get replies that it varies so we sorta budgeted along the lines of our last trip to Prague 4 months ago (mistake). I thought it was on the low side so I posted to confirm

Posted by
2031 posts

It is possible - but not for every dinner.

A better way to think of it is to set a food budget for the day (or even the week). Some days you may want a very cheap lunch (slice of pizza, sandwich from a stand, whatever) so you can splurge a little on dinner and go somewhere fancier. Other days you may want a picnic dinner, leaving some money left over for a nice lunch or the next days dinner. Some days you may fill up so much on the breakfast buffet that you don't need a meal until an early dinner. Etc - flexibility is the name of the game. I'd rather have one nice $100 dinner and be frugal for a few days before or after than spend every meal trying to meet a moderately low limit.

Posted by
1615 posts

I've only visited Paris and then Switzerland, but dinner in Italy is very reasonable comparatively.

I think averages are 45-50 Euro for 2, and that is for Rome, Florence, Naples, Salerno, Taormina. Some a little more, some a little less. And this is for 1 appetizer, 1 pasta, 2 carne, 1 dolce (dessert) and a half-carafe of house wine, plus VAT (value-added tax), no tip.

Posted by
3048 posts

For a daily budget, depending on which city we're in is €150. This covers lunch, dinner, wine/coffee in a cafe and of course Gelato. We do breakfast in our apartment which is not included in that total.

If we end up in a more upscale place, who cares. 😊 It still averages out.