If you’re like me, you want to eat well when you travel. If you want to eat well in many Italian cities, you have to do a bit of research and planning ahead of time, due to the abundance of tourist traps that are waiting to charge hungry diners too much for bad food (here’s my post on finding good restaurants in Italy so you can avoid the bad ones altogether).
Once you’ve decided where you want to eat (perhaps based on recommendations from your favorite local bloggers, teeheehee), you have to do something else – book a table!
This is especially true for cities like Rome, Florence and Venice, where you’ll be competing with locals and thousands of other tourists for spots, especially on Fridays and Saturdays and during the high travel seasons.
Of course, you can call ahead of time, but if you’re in another time zone and/or you don’t speak Italian, this might be difficult.
Luckily, like many other things, restaurant bookings are moving online, and there are now several restaurant reservation apps and websites in Italy.
Because I’m currently on a foodie quest in Rome that involves me trying out at least one new restaurant every week, I’ve got some additional info that relates specifically to Rome, including which popular restaurants can be booked on which apps, which Rome restaurants have an online booking system, and which great spots you can only book by phone.
Ready to plan your dream trip right down to the last bite?! Here’s my list of restaurant reservation apps and websites in Italy!
Table of Contents
Restaurant Reservation apps and websites in Italy
Before we start
All of these apps and websites have some limitations, the most significant one being that not all of the great restaurants in Italy are using these platforms.
I also had a personal experience where I booked a table with the Quandoo app, and the owner of the restaurant told us when we arrived that he hadn’t checked it, and therefore wasn’t aware of our reservation. Luckily, a table was available, but it also might not have worked out.
I’ve since used Quandoo without any issues, but it’s good to be aware of the fact that the adoption of apps and websites for making restaurant reservations is a slow process for some.
The Fork is the first restaurant reservation app I used in Italy, and I’ve found it to work quite well. It has a large number of restaurants available, especially in Rome.
The Fork’s Interface
The app’s interface is broken down by section: Nearby, Where to Spend More Yums (the Fork’s point system), Earn More Yums, Best Offers, Michelin Guide, Best Rated, Good for Groups and Insider. There’s also a Terraces category for the warm weather. You can search by cuisine or restaurant name as well. Click on any restaurant name to read reviews, see what kind of discounts are available (if any), and take a look at the menu.
Unique features of The Fork
The Fork is cool because it offers in-app discounts, especially for new restaurants. They also have the aforementioned Yum point system.
The Michelin section is a great added feature for those who like to follow their guide.
Website and links to The Fork app
Like I said above, I had an incident where a restaurant owner didn’t check his app, and therefore didn’t notice my reservation. Other than that one time, it’s worked fine.
I’ve only used Quandoo in Rome, but as far as I can tell from searching on the in-app map, it has a huge selection of restaurants available elsewhere in Italy.
The Quandoo app has a “Quick Availability” section at the top, if you want to grab a table in a hurry.
Quandoo’s other highlights include Nearby, as well as Cuisines, and Cool Areas. There’s also a Popular Picks section and a New in X Section (i.e. wherever you’re searching).
Unique features of Quandoo
A cool feature that Quandoo has that other apps don’t is that if you search for a place that isn’t available for booking through the app, it still provides you with the contact info, so you can call.
Popular Rome restaurants on Quandoo
You can book at Flavio al Velavevodetto, one of my favorites, on Quandoo.
Website and links to the Quandoo app
Dish Cult (ResDiary)
ResDiary appears to have split their operation into two: ResDiary is now for restaurant owners, whereas their customer-facing app is now called Dish Cult.
Unique features of Dish Cult
You can create a list of restaurants in Dish Cult – a good way to plan or keep track of where you want to go!
Their interface is clean, with fewer categories than the other apps. You just enter a location, date, and time and available reservations pop up. Easy!
Popular Rome restaurants on Dish Cult
While exploring the app for this post, I was surprised to see how many restaurants are on Dish Cult – Alfredo alla Scrofa (the birthplace of fettuccine alfredo), Cuoco e Camicia, and fine dining spots like Imàgo are all on there.
Links to the Dish Cult app
Part of Booking.com, Opentable operates all over the world and has a huge offering of restaurants in Italy (and elsewhere).
Opentable’s interface suggests Places to Book Today, as well as a Browse by Cuisine option, and an Explore the Area option so that you can find restaurants nearby.
Unique features of Opentable
There’s a Delivery and Takeaway tab, so if you’re feeling lazy or are exhausted after a long day of sightseeing, you can order in. Note that Uber Eats, Deliveroo, and Glovo are all delivery apps that operate in Italy.
Website and links to the Opentable app
Popular Rome restaurants with online booking on their website
Roscioli Salumeria accepts bookings through their website.
The incomparable Seu Pizza Illuminati also has an online booking system.
180 grammi in Centocelle, which serves up some of the city’s best pizza, is also bookable online. You’ve got to be quick, though – dates open up one month in advance at 12 noon Rome time every day.
Marigold, my favorite place for breakfast and brunch also has an online booking system.
Popular Rome restaurants that only accept bookings by phone or email
Felice a Testaccio, a hugely popular place, only accepts bookings by phone (+39 06 5746800). I’d bet that someone speaks English there, too, given its fame among Romans and tourists alike.
La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali in Monti, which, like Felice and Roscioli is very popular, also doesn’t appear on any apps. Call them to book at +39 06 6798643. According to Lonely Planet, the staff speaks English.
Roma Sparita, where Anthony Bourdain had his famous cacio e pepe in a bowl made of cheese, accepts reservations via email.
How to make a reservation by phone at a restaurant in Italy
So, you’ve got a place in mind and you can’t find them on any of the restaurant reservation apps and websites that I’ve covered above, so you have to make a phone call to Italy!
Someday, we’ll probably have robots to do this for us, or maybe we’ll be able to use Google translate (actually, you could probably do that now somehow), but don’t worry, until then, I’ve got you covered.
When you call a restaurant, they’re going to want to know four things – your name, the date and time of your desired booking, the number of people in your party, and a phone number.
Generally, a phone call will start with the person on the other end saying the name of the restaurant and a salutation (buongiorno during the day, buona sera in the afternoon/evening):
“Ristorante da Molly, buongiorno/buona sera”
You have two options. The first is to ask if the person speaks English:
“Buongiorno/buona sera, Lei parla inglese?”
Or you can just jump right in and go for it, asking, “can I made a reservation?”:
“Buongiorno/buona sera, posso fare una prenotazione?”
Saying the date and time
Auguri, you’ve gotten a “sì” from the other end of the line!
They will most like then ask, “per quando?” (when?)
You can reply with your desired date and time by following this formula:
(day of the week) + (date, month) + (time)
The days of the week in Italian
lunedì – Monday
martedì – Tuesday
mercoledì – Wednesday
giovedì – Thursday
venerdì – Friday
sabato – Saturday
domenica – Sunday
In Italian, the date is just the cardinal number (with the exception of the first of the month). You don’t have to add anything else (unlike English with its pesky “st” “rd” and “th”). Ordinal numbers exist and are used in other ways, but not with the date:
il primo – the first of the month
due – second
tre – third
quattro – fourth
cinque – fifth
sei – sixth
sette – seventh
otto – eighth
nove – ninth
dieci – tenth
undici – eleventh
dodici – twelfth
tredici – thirteenth
quattordici – fourteenth
quindici – fifteenth
sedici – sixteenth
diciassette – seventeenth
diciotto – eighteenth
diciannove – nineteenth
venti – twentieth
ventuno – twenty-first
ventidue – twenty-second
ventitré – twenty-third
ventiquattro – twenty-fourth
venticinque – twenty-fifth
ventisei – twenty-sixth
ventisette – twenty-seventh
ventotto – twenty-eighth
ventinove – twenty-ninth
trenta – thirtieth
trentuno – thirty-first
gennaio – January
febbraio – February
marzo – March
aprile – April
maggio – May
giugno – June
luglio – July
agosto – August
settembre – September
ottobre – October
novembre – November
dicembre – December
So, if you want to book for Friday, July 17, you can say:
“Venerdì, il diciassette luglio.”
Note that the number should be preceded by the definite article “il”, except for “otto” and “unidici” which take l’, because they begin with vowels.
Specifying the time is obviously a key part of making a reservation. Most restaurants are open for lunch, then close for a few hours, then open again for dinner. Lunch typically runs from 12-3, or somewhere in between, and dinner from 7-11, or in between.
You can also give the time in Italian by subtracting from the next hour, but for the sake of simplicity, I’ve left that way out.
at noon – a mezzogiorno
at 12:15 – alle dodici e un quarto
at 12:30 – a mezzogiorno e mezzo
at 12:45 – alle dodici e quarantacinque
at 1 (13 in Italy) – alle tredici
at 1:15 – alle tredici e un quarto
at 1:30 – alle tredici e mezza (sometimes I say mezzo and sometimes mezza, and the internet won’t tell me definitively if there’s a right way!)
at 1:45 – alle tredici e quarantacinque
at 2 (14 in Italy) – alle quattordici
at 2:15 – alle quattordici e un quarto
at 2:30 – alle quattordici e mezza
BREAK TIME! Some places have “orario continuato”, which means they don’t close. You most like won’t need a reservation for that in between time.
at 7 (19 in Italy) – note that this is very early and not all restaurants will be open at this time, but some are, especially in touristy areas – alle diciannove
at 7:15 – alle diciannove e un quarto
at 7:30 – alle diciannove e mezzo
at 7:45 – alle diciannove e quarantacinque
at 8 (20 in Italy) – alle venti
at 8:15 – alle venti e un quarto
at 8:30 – alle venti e trenta (I don’t know why I want to say 8:30 this way but I do, alle venti e mezzo/a sounds wrong)
at 8:45 – alle venti e quarantacinque
at 9 (21 in Italy) – alle ventuno
at 9:15 – alle ventuno e un quarto
at 9:30 – alle ventuno e mezzo
at 9:45 – alle ventuno e quarantacinque
at 10 (22 in Italy) – alle ventidue
Eating late gets more common the further south you go – I have eaten at dinner 10 in both Rome and Sicily during the summertime.
So, now, you can say your fully desired date and time:
Venerdì il diciassette luglio alle venti e trenta.
Friday, July 17 at 8:30.
The number of people
The person on the other end will ask, “per quante persone?” to ask how many people there are in your party.
You can simply reply “Per 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 persone”.
Your name and telephone number
The person will then ask for your name, probably by saying “Posso avere un nome?” (Can I have a name?) or “E il Suo nome?” (And your name?)
Now, here’s the fun part! Italians have a system for spelling over the phone that I really wish I had been taught in my four years of Italian classes, but never was! When I heard people using it, I was enchanted, but also frustrated, because I could never seem to remember it.
In English, we tend to just go haphazard with this thing, sometimes giving names (T as in Thomas, for example) or just random things (G as in giraffe), or at least that’s how I do it. Maybe some people use the NATO phonetic alphabet, but to that I say November Oscar Tango [space] Mike Echo.
In Italian, they’ve devised an alphabet with Italian cities, with a few exceptions for letters that aren’t commonly used in the language.
How to spell your name on the phone in Italian
a – ah – Ancona
b – bi – Bari/Bologna
c – ci (pron. chi) – Como/Cagliari
d – di – (pron. dee) – Domodossola (do-mo-do-so-la)
e – é – (pron. eh) – Empoli
f – effe (pron. ef-ay) – Firenze
g – gi (pron. gee) – Genova
h – acca (pron ak-ka) – there’s no other similar sounding letter, so you can just say acca, or you can say “hotel” with a silent h, as it’s been adopted into Italian.
i – i (pron. e) – Imola
j – i lùnga (pron. e loon-ga) – like h, there’s no other similar sounding letter, so you can just say “i lùnga”, or you can say Jesolo (a town near Venice). I’ve also heard people simply say “jay” because the English pronunciation is relatively well known these days.
k – càppa – again, nothing else sounds like it, so “cappa” is fine.
l – èlle (pron. el-leh) – Livorno
m – èmme (pron. em-meh) – Milano
n – ènne (pron. en-neh) – Napoli
o – ò – Otranto
p – pi (pron. pea) – Palermo/Padova
q – cu – Quarto
r – èrre (pron. air-reh) – Roma
s – èsse – Salerno/Sassari
t – ti (pron. tea) – Taranto/Torino
u – u (pron. oo) – Udine
v – v (pron. vu) – Venezia
w – w (pron. doppia vu – dope-ya voo) – just “doppia vu” or even “Washington”
x – x (pron. ics – eeks) – “Ics” should work!
y – ìpsilon (pron. eep-see-lon) – Like “ics”, “ìpsilon” should do the trick.
z – zèta (pron. zeh-ta) – Zara or just zèta
Terrified yet? Here’s an example of how I spell my name:
Milano, Otranto, Livorno, Livorno, Ìpsilon
Firenze, Imola, Taranto, Zèta, Palermo, Ancona, Taranto, Roma, Imola, Como, Kappa
The person you’re speaking too will also ask for your phone number, or “un recapito telefonico”.
For this step, you’ll have to give them your number from the list above, making sure to include 00 and the country code for US numbers. Occasionally, restaurants, especially popular ones, will call to confirm a reservation, so make sure to include this step and to answer the phone when an Italian number pops up!
To clarify, you can say “è un numero americano”, then give 00, plus the country code, which is 1, then the number:
00 – 1 – 555-777-9999
I hope you’ve found this post helpful and useful. If I’ve left anything out or you have any questions, please let me know in the comments!
A note on making reservations in general
A few times, I’ve been told that calling more than a few weeks ahead of time is too far in advance, but if you wait too long, you’re probably going to miss out. To say that tourism is booming in Italy these days would be an understatement, so I still recommend booking as far in advance as possible. If you’re told it’s too early, wait and try again later.
Why you should always cancel a reservation
If your plans change, you should definitely cancel your reservation as a courtesy to the restaurant. Empty tables = empty pockets!