Ristorante?Trattoria?Osteria?What’s the difference?

When you are in Liguria you will see many, different types of places where you can eat. They are not the only ristorante but you will find also: trattoria, osteria, gastronomia, rosticceria, taverna and enoteca. What is a difference between them? Below I try to explain it 🙂

The most important thing is that nowadays the names don’t mean as much as in the past. What is more, some trattoria” or “ristorante” call themselves “osteria” and vice versa … so it is a little bit confusing. However, the majority of this places still keep their traditional significance.


Cost: €€ / €€€

Tradition: * / **

Formality:  •• / •••

It is a bit formal. Waiters and sommeliers are experienced with food and wine as well as with proper service etiquette. A menu is complete or à la carte offerings, printed and with fixed prices. Food is prepared by professional kitchen staff. Also a bill is often higher than elsewhere. However, don’t expect that food is necessarily better or more sophisticated at ristorante.


(pronounce: trattori:ja)

Cost: € / €€

Tradition: ***

Formality: • / ••

It is a traditional, family-owned, rustic eatery.  Very often mother or grandmother cooks. Father handles cash register and the kids wait tables. Decor is usually very simple. In trattoria you can eat fresh, home-made, local food. Prices are usually much lower than in ristorante.


(pronounce: osteri:ja)

Cost: € / €€

Tradition: ***

Formality: • / ••

It was a wine bar that has evolved to serve simple meals. Its menu is written on a blackboard or on sheet of paper. Osteria’s offer changes daily, according to the market. Two or three courses are offered for a fixed price, including wine. Nowadays osteria becomes very similar to trattoria cause they both serve simple, home-cooked meals. The prices in osteria are similar to the prices in trattoria.


Cost: €

Tradition: ***

Formality: •

The name means “hot table.” It is a quick-service place. It is a great spot to get a cheap, home-cooked meal.




(pronounce: gæstronomi:ja or rostit∫eri:ja)

Cost: €

Tradition: ***

Formality: •

It is a kind of a traditional fast-food that sells local dishes already ready to eat. They are cold or hot and they can be eaten inside gastronomia/rosticceria (if it has tables) or can be taken away. There is no menu only a price list. There is no wait staff so you have to set your table by yourself.


Cost: € / €€

Tradition: ****

Formality: •

In the past it was bar/tavern that has slowly transformed into osteria and trattoria. Nowadays there is no difference between them and remained only the name “taverna”.


Cost: € / €€€

Tradition: */**

Formality: • / •••

Wine shop/wine bar. In the past enotecas didn’t serve food. They were just a place to go and drink wine. Now, the most of the enotecas serve light appetizers. They are always carefully chosen to be suitable for a wine you drink. Anyway, the most important thing in enoteca is still WINE 😉


€ – cheap; €€€ – very expensive

* – not traditional; *** – very traditional

•- not formal; ••• – very formal


Now, that you can distinguish different types of places where you can eat, it is enough to find the right one, suitable for you … good luck 😉


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4 Replies to “Ristorante?Trattoria?Osteria?What’s the difference?”

  1. thanks.
    Quite helpful to me, a poor ignorant northerner.
    – -Chad

    1. That's Liguria! says: Reply


  2. Thanks a lot! I was looking for information about places like gastronomia and didn’t know what they were called. Very interesting and useful article. Elena/Moscow, Russia.

    1. That's Liguria! says: Reply

      Hi Elena! I’m very glad the article is useful! Many cheers! Agata

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