6 Italian food idioms you need to know

Italian food idioms

Today you will learn some Italian food idioms so that you can keep improving your Italian language skills.

The main objective is to understand Italian conversations and learn to speak like a native Italian speaker.

This is why it is so important to know some Italian idioms that are extremely common in everyday conversation in Italy.

Watch our video to find out how to pronounce these useful Italian phrases and in which situations to use them:

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An idiom is a combination of words whose meaning cannot be deduced by putting together the meanings of the words that make it up.

Actually, the English word “idiom” comes from the ancient Greek word idioma, which meant “peculiar phraseology”.

For example, the Italian idiom “acqua in bocca” (literally “water in the mouth”) is used to tell someone not to reveal a secret.

As you can see, this phrase has a figurative meaning that differs from the literal meaning.

Therefore, it is obvious that idioms have to be learnt completely by heart. For this reason, we want to show you the most common Italian food idioms and explain their meaning with examples so that you will learn them easily and fast.


Idiomatic expressions are very important elements in the process of learning a language, because they contribute to thinking in the cultural codes of this foreign culture. In this way, they help to train abstract thinking, since, to understand them, it is necessary to think metaphorically.

On the other hand, they are a valuable resource for acquiring new vocabulary and communicating better in another language.

Idiomatic expressions are a typical element in most languages and are constantly used in a wide variety of contexts. In this sense, it is common to find them in a colloquial conversation, in a film, or even when reading a novel.

In short, idioms are an essential element in increasing vocabulary and facilitating intercultural understanding, which is why it takes time to learn their context of use.


Italian idioms

There are many idiomatic expressions in Italian and each one must be used in the right context.

Here are some Italian food idioms that will help you improve your Italian level.

  • Che pizza! / Essere una pizza (literally “what a pizza!” / “to be a pizza”)

This Italian idiom is used to refer to something or someone terribly boring.

For example:

Che pizza! Questo film è proprio noioso.

Il nostro professore di matematica è una vera pizza.

  • Diventare rosso/a come un peperone (literally “to become as red as a pepper”)

This Italian expression is used when we blush in certain situations, usually out of embarrassment.

For example:

Ogni volta che parlo in pubblico, mi emoziono e divento rosso come un peperone.

  • Andare liscio come l’olio (literally “to go smooth as oil”)

We use this phrase to express that something runs smoothly and according to our plans.

For example:

Com’è andato il colloquio di lavoro? – Benissimo, è andato tutto liscio come l’olio!

  • Passare la patata bollente (literally “to pass the hot potato”)

This phrase is used when someone shifts the responsibility for an uncomfortable matter to another person.

For example:

Mi hanno passato questa patata bollente e adesso tocca a me risolvere il problema!

  • Essere buono come il pane / Essere un pezzo di pane (literally “to be as good as bread” / “to be a piece of bread”)

This Italian expression is used to refer to someone who has a big heart.

For example:

Marco è sempre gentile e disponibile con tutti. È un pezzo di pane!

  • Non capire un cavolo (literally “not to understand a cabbage”)

The word cavolo is used in many Italian expressions to emphasise what we are saying. In this case “non capire un cavolo” means “not to understand anything”.

For example:

Se parli a bassa voce, non capisco un cavolo!

These are some of the Italian food idioms that you can use in your everyday life in Italy. Remember to practise every day to improve your Italian level.

You can also sign up for our Italian classes to learn Italian with a native teacher who will help you at all times. We offer Italian lessons online and one-to-one Italian lessons in London.

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