How do you say enjoy your meal in Italian?

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

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

Let’s get started! 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’ll hear before every fellow diner around you digs in. It is appropriate to use in any situation, whether among friends or business associates.

Buon appetito
Enjoy your meal
Literally: Good appetite

two friends eating at a counter

You can also respond by saying buon appetito too, but most often you will respond with grazie, altrettanto, which literally translates to “thanks, likewise”.

➡️ Learn all the ways to say thank you in Italian!

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

Title: Italian All-in-One For Dummies
Language: English / Italian
Publisher: For Dummies
Pages: 672

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

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

three women ordering food at a restaurant

Many people think it’s bad manners to start eating your food, even at the risk of it getting cold, if even one person at the table hasn’t been served their meal 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 p.m.!

However, unlike buon appetito, buon pranzo and buona cena can also be used as general wishes before people sit down to eat.

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

Aiuta Lingookies con un 👍!


Bonus: Common sentences

Now that we’ve seen the different ways to translate enjoy your meal in Italian, let’s look at some common phrases you’ll hear around the table. The next time you have dinner with some Italians, 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 the end of our lesson on how to say enjoy your meal in Italian in all its forms!


What next?

➡️ Learn other common Italian questions!

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