How do you say enjoy your meal in Italian?

How exactly do you say enjoy your meal in Italian? Are there any expressions you can use for lunch and dinner specifically?

In this lesson, we will take a look at the different ways you can translate this sentence into Italian. Read on to learn them all!

Let’s start! Iniziamo!

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How do you say enjoy your meal in Italian?

Most common: Buon appetito!

Pronunciation: Boo-on ahp-peh-tee-toh

Buon appetito literally means “good appetite” and it’s the most common sentence you will hear before every fellow diner around you digs in. It is appropriate to use in any kind of situation, whether it’s among friends or businessmen.

Buon appetito
Enjoy your meal
Literally: Good appetite

two friends eating at a counter

You can reply to this by saying buon appetito too, but most commonly you will answer with grazie, altrettanto, which translates to “thanks, likewise”.

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Grazie, altrettanto!
Thanks, you too!
Literally: Thanks, likewise!

When will you commonly hear buon appetito? It’s not that widely used in households during family meals, unless there are some relatives or friends over that don’t live under the same roof. For example, my family and I often skip the expression and just start eating right away.

If you are at a ristorante, restaurant, however, it will be almost mandatory! Some people, especially middle-aged and older people, will not start eating unless a buon appetito has been said and everyone is ready to eat.

three women ordering food at a restaurant

Many consider it bad manners to start eating your food, no matter if it risks getting cold, if even one person around the table hasn’t been served their course yet.

Less common: Buon pranzo, buona cena!

Pronunciation: Boo-on prahn-zoh / boo-on-ah ceh-nah

Buon pranzo
Enjoy your meal, have a good lunch
Literally: Good lunch

Buona cena
Enjoy your meal, have a good dinner
Literally: Good dinner

man eating a bowl of rice

As the heading says, buon pranzo and buona cena are less common ways to translate enjoy your meal in Italian. They literally mean “good lunch” and “good dinner”, so you can use them at specific times of the day. Don’t wish a buon pranzo if it’s 9 pm!

However, differently from buon appetito, buon pranzo and buona cena can also be used as generic wishes before people sit down around the table.

For example, imagine that you are saying goodbye to a friend and it’s almost noon. In this situation, it’s actually more common for you to tell them buon pranzo! instead of buon appetito. You more commonly say buon appetito when someone is just about to start eating.

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Bonus: Common sentences

Now that we’ve seen the different ways to translate enjoy your meal in Italian, let’s see a few sentences you will commonly hear around the table. Next time you will be dining with some Italian people, you will be able to understand what they are talking about!

➡️ Learn other common Italian sentences used in restaurants!

Il pranzo è in tavola!
Lunch is on the table!

La cena è pronta!
Dinner is ready!

family eating bbq meat

Mi passi il sale, per favore?
Can you pass me the salt, please?

Vorrei proporre un brindisi.
I’d like to propose a toast.

➡️ Learn how to toast in Italian!

And that’s it, now you know how to say enjoy your meal in Italian in all its forms!

What next?

➡️ Learn other common Italian questions!

Now that you’ve seen how to say enjoy your meal in Italian, you might want to keep learning Italian online with these free Italian resources:

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