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I am going to an Italian restaurant and trying to educate myself a bit about the food before going. I own the oxford companion to Italian food, but it says nothing about the term "spuntini" which is a category of food listed on the menu. Given that spuntini means snack (of some sort) and given that I don't see appetizers listed anywhere on the menu, I wondered if spuntini meant appetizer.

Does spuntini mean appetizer? If not, what does it mean? If so, why doesn't this show up when I google spuntini and appetizer at the same time?

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    Link to the menu? It's hard for people to say exactly what it means on that one menu without seeing it. (Seems likely given what you said that they're using it to mean appetizers, but as you discovered, it's not the usual word.) – Cascabel Aug 9 '15 at 11:20
  • As a guess -- if they were trying to do the 'small plate' style of food, and were trying to get people to order a few each, I could see not wanting to label it antipasti. – Joe Aug 9 '15 at 11:29
  • I added the link. It's the section after olives near the top – Stan Shunpike Aug 9 '15 at 15:16
  • Yeah, all of the items in that category are vegetable based, while "salumi" are meat-based and "formagi" is cheese-based. – Catija Aug 9 '15 at 17:13
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It's not a standard. 'Antipasti' (before the meal) would be the typical replacement for 'appetizers'. Quite a few of the categories on the menu could be classified as antipasti:

  • Olives
  • Salumi
  • Formagi

As Catija points out, the items all seem to be vegetable dishes intended as a starter.

In my opinion (having taken courses on classification & thesaurus design), the menu's a bit of a mess. I suspect that it's in part from mixing lunch, dinner & bar menus, they have starters, salad & soup courses, small plates (which includes stuff from the starters), main dishes ... and even one category (vegetariano) which mixes both main & side dishes.

They're also inconsistent on the text after the title ... sometimes it's a translation (Coppa Classic / Fragrant Spiced Pork) or description of the item (Taleggio / Cow's Milk, Nutty, Aromatic, Semi-Soft), some list sides it comes with without translating the main ingredient (Stracci di Grano Arso / Broccoli Rabe, Tomato, Onion, Garlic, Red Chili, & E.V.O.O) or (Veal Osso Buco / Gremolata).

(Note that this says nothing about the food itself -- it might be excellent ... it's just a confusing menu)

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    Yeah, it's a huge menu that needs a lot of help. – Catija Aug 9 '15 at 22:21
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It is just that they took a license.

Spuntino literally means snack.

Taking a spuntino ranges from a bite sized item to a little meal, it depends on much is the break one need.

Essentially all the uncooked items on that menu (appetizers, salumi, cheeses, etc.) or the salads and sandwiches they might serve would be suitable for a tasty and possibly gourmand spuntino.

Same is for a lot of street food served in Italy or worldwide.

They choose an interesting and Italian recognisable name for items that, accompanied by a little bread, can indeed be a spuntino. But they would be normally go under the category starters. It is possible that while giardiniera is usually served in a mixed plate of starters, they present it itself as a course in s more robust portion. This can happens many times, especially if strong notes are smoothed, as for in the current example ordering giardiniera could mean a spuntino of prickled vegetables :) Names and presentation is fancy, and categories are more suggestive of ambience than food, especially in business mixing the restaurant and bar ones.

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