5 Tips When Ordering Dessert in Italy

Pasticceria and Bakery guide of Rome

You’re in Italy so why not indulge and allow yourself to sample the sweets. Here are a few hints when deciding on what to order from the menu of dolci

  • A ‘crostata in Italy is basically a tart or flan with a pastry crust. Be warned that these are often just made with jam though, so when you see apricot or berry crostata this does not mean it will include real fruit or frangipane as you would find in other countries
  • In most places in Italy the tiramisu’ is delicious, however, some touristy restaurants might try to use cream instead of the traditional mascarpone and eggs in order to cut costs. If you’re dining somewhere that looks like it caters to tourists, be sure to ask whether their tiramisu’ is made with real mascarpone – which is the crucial ingredient.
  • In cafés, bars and on the dessert menu of restaurants, you’ll probably see ‘torta della nonna‘ (grandma’s cake) and wonder what this ambiguous yet intriguing sweet entails. It’s a classic here in Italy and is basically a shortcrust tart with a lemon custard filling topped with toasted pinenuts. You can often find this traditional dessert as a gelato flavor too!
  • Cantucci are another popular dessert choice here in Italy. These almond biscuits (also known as biscotti) are crisp, sweet and sometimes lightly spiced, and when dipped in Vin Santo (or any other dessert wine or coffee) they absorb the liquid and dissolve in your mouth. Perfect for when you can’t really fit in dessert but you want to finish the meal with a sweet bite or a nightcap.
  • Generally, Italians will never order coffee with dessert. Everything has its moment in the Italian dining experience and a short black (or what Italians call an espresso or caffé normale) is ordered after the desserts have been devoured. Don’t even think about ordering a cappuccino after dinner if you’re trying to blend in like a local.


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