Being able to paint a picture of the Italian delicious dishes with a variety of expressions is key to sounding like a native Italian, so to lend you a helping hand, we’ve compiled some of the most useful words and phrases you can use to describe buon cibo (good food). We hope you have fun using them!
To say that something is very/extremely good, you can add on the ending -issimo to form the superlative absolute: buonissimo.
Ottimo (ottima / ottimi / ottime) translates as really good or excellent when talking about food. It is a frank and matter-of-fact kind of expression that isn’t as emphatic as squisito but conveys more enthusiasm than just buono.
The word eccellente (plural: eccellenti) is the same as the English word excellent. Despite being used less than some of the other words on this list to describe food, it remains a valid option.
5. Gustoso / Saporito
If you want to say that a dish is full of flavour, you can describe it as being gustoso (gustosa / gustosi / gustose) or saporito (saporita / saporiti / saporite). Note that unlike the expressions above, neither would ever be used on their own to compliment a dish. They always function as adjectives to describe a dish.
As you’ve probably guessed, the word spettacolare (plural: spettacolari) translates as spectacular in English. It is often used as a big, over-the-top compliment when talking about good food.
English speakers might be tempted to use delizioso (deliziosa / deliziosi / deliziose) all the time because it sounds so similar to the word delicious. Although not incorrect, it it used much less frequently in Italian than in English when complimenting a dish. The more common meaning is adorable or charming in reference to a person’s character (e.g. una persona deliziosa = a charming person).
8. Invitante / Allettante
Two ways you can say tempting in Italian are invitante (plural: invitanti) or allettante (plural: allettanti). Both are applicable to food as well as other things such as deals, prices and people.
9. Fa venire l’acquolina in bocca.
If you find yourself sitting at the table in front of a delicious-looking meal, here is a great phrase you can use! Fa venire l’acquolina in bocca is the way you would say It makes my mouth water in Italian. It is used very frequently, so if you drop it into a conversation at the right time, you’ll sound like a true native!
10. Uno tira l’altro.
Have you ever started eating something delicious, only to find that you just can’t stop? If so, you’ll love the expression uno/a tira l’altro which literally translates as one pulls the other. Two possible English translations are moreish (also spelled morish) or addictive.