Doggie bags in Rome

Portion size at restaurants are so large. In Rome, is it impolite to ask for a doggie bag? I dont want to be an "ugly american"!

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
5725 posts

Portion sizes at Roman restaurants are not usually large. In fact, they disappoint Americans used to getting huge servings. Most people order two of the following three: Antipasto, Primo, Secondo. If you do this, you will probably find that you do not have leftover food.

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

But if you do ask, they'll wrap it up in tin foil for you. Soup becomes problematic.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
13879 posts

and you probably won't have a fridge like at home to put it in, or a microwave (watch out for that foil - and if it is soup leave a gap for the steam to escape (and smoke get out)) to warm it up in.

Unless you made the wise choice of getting a good apartment.

Posted by Sandra
422 posts

I learned to avoid doggie bags by ordering only pasta OR the meat course, depending on what the place was famous for.

Some ristorante let me take pasta with me, but Not meat. In fact, one very famous ristorante refused to let me order their steak because they knew I would Not be able to finish it and they would Not allow me to take the left-over.

This same place would write up a special menu for me; i could order only from that menu. I got the special menu in other places too.

No, I did not mind that. It was their way of doing business and taking care of me at the same time. Italy is different than here.

Posted by sondra1222
7 posts

Thanks so much to all for taking the time to answer my rather silly question. I think the the US should consider Italian size meal proportions!

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
7334 posts

Doggie bags are generally frowned upon in Rome. It may go back to the tradition of the very wealthy hosting games and festivals with food for all who attended. The poor were permitted to bring sacks and take food home from the public feast.

If you ask, the wait staff will wrap it up for you, but probably will not ask you if you want to take it home.

Posted by Laurel
Rome, Italy
4059 posts

We avoid the problem by sharing courses, and restaurants are happy to let you share. (Usually you do NOT share a pizza, though!) For a "big" dinner we share an antipasto, share a pasta and each order a secondo, or we may order two antipasti if we have trouble choosing, two pastas and maybe have a contorno and dessert. Most of the time when we share a past we are given two half-portions, which are very generous.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
6537 posts

They will let you take the half-full bottle of wine with you.

My theory - U.S. restaurants serve very large portions to "justify" their prices, since the food is a relatively small portion of their expenses. The same goes for those refillable drinks.

Posted by RoxAnne
Hoover, Al
3 posts

We have been in Italy for 7 days now. Left Rome two days ago and now in Siena. We had lunch in Florence, I had a pizza. I cannot eat a whole pizza by way. The waiter asked me if I didn't like it. I said it was "Molto bene" just needs to be smaller!. So when he brought the check he verbally itemized it with my Husband. " this is your wine, this is your water..this is your pizza..and this is(looking at me) your pizza that you did not finish" lol..he only charged me for the portion I ate! Needless to say..I will not be ordering pizza in Italy again. I would hate to think I offended them.

Posted by dmae
62 posts

I am unable to finish even one of the smaller portions of my meals in restaurants in Rome. (I have medical issues.) Therefore, I order very, very carefully, eat what I can and enjoy the fact that I have this wonderful opportunity to be able to eat at all, especially in a wonderful restaurant in Rome.

I usually peruse all parts of the menu and talk to the waiter. I let them know I have some health issues. Many times, they will bring me a half order of something, especially if I am dying to try more than one item on the menu. Sometimes I only order the secondo, other times only the primo, other times I work out a reduced portion of a couple of items. If there is a particular vegetable they have that day, I might order it alone.

You can also order one course at a time. If there is an antipasti you would like, order that and enjoy it. If you are still hungry, order another course. Enjoy that one as well. Then, if you are still wanting more to eat, order something else. Most restaurant staff want to see you have pleasure with their food.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
6537 posts

As a follow-up to Dmae, a waitress at lunchtime recently urged me not to order more than the appetizer I'd chosen until I'd eaten it because it was a large serving. She was so right!

Posted by sondra1222
7 posts

I am the one who posted the question about doggie bags and will update....just back from 10 days in Rome. I was unable to eat the number of courses suggested in Rick Steve's book, but enjoyed the food anyway. Most waiters were concerned that I didnt like the food but only one asked if I'd like to "take away". That was in Cissia Bomba which, by the way, had great food and was recommended by Rick Steves.

One place for which we did not find a recommendation, but ate there twice because it was so good was on the plazza Campo di Fiore. Reasonable price, really fun wait-staff, and excellent food. Check out Roman Beer Company at the corner of Via Cappellari as it enters the piazza. Look for the name of the place on the shirts of the wait-staff as the other signage is really confusing!

We had a great time. Thanks for all of you who took the time to post answers to my questions!

Posted by Michael
Seattle, WA, USA
6726 posts

Glad you found some good restaurants on your own. I do think that the restaurant recos are one of Rick's weaknesses, so I rely more on TripAdvisor.

Minor point. You said: " I was unable to eat the number of courses suggested in Rick Steve's book,"

I'm pretty sure Rick doesn't suggest eating a certain number of courses; instead he tells you about the various courses that are usually available. One thing we often do is to have an antipasto, then split a primo and a secondo ("da condividere"). That seems to be a nice amount of food for us.

Posted by Laurel
127 posts

I would agree with ordering only what you will eat. The culture around food and restaurants is different in Europe, and in Italy, where you get a whole pizza to yourself, you are expected to take responsibility for it. That doesn't stop people from sharing a pizza or a salad or an appetizer. As someone said, typically the portions are not too large.