This is a three part series that describes all the most important phrases you can use at an Italian restaurant. Part 3 deals specifically with expressions you can use when asking for the check / bill in Italian. If you haven’t already visited Part 1 and Part 2, we suggest you check them out before proceeding!
Once you’ve finished your meal, it is customary to ask for the check in Italy, as the waiter rarely asks.
Potrei / Potremmo avere il conto, per favore?
Could I / Could we have the check / bill, please?
The waiter will normally bring a single bill to the table, and the customers will work it out for themselves, but in inexpensive restaurants and pizzerias, you may be able to request separate bills when it’s not overly crowded. In more expensive restaurants, on the other hand, the waiter could turn down your request, especially if it’s a large group.
Possiamo fare conti separati?
Can we split the check / bill?
Possiamo pagare alla romana?
Can we split the check / bill? (idiomatic)
Dividiamoci il conto.
Let’s split the check / bill.
If you’re feeling particularly generous, you can offer to pay for the entire meal yourself.
Pago io, non ti preoccupare.
I’ll get this, don’t worry.
Offro io questa volta.
I’ll pay this time.
Two unfamiliar charges that are likely to make an appearance on your bill are called servizio (service charge) and coperto (cover charge).
The former is a mandatory charge designed to cover staff expenses, although it doesn’t go directly to the staff. This charge tends to be applied in very touristic areas of Italy and can easily increase your bill by 10-20%.
The latter is a fixed “per head” charge of around €1-3 (and sometimes more) that covers general management expenses such as linen, dishes, bread, olive oil and so on. Legally it must be written down somewhere, usually in small print on the menu.
Helpful hint: It is not customary to leave a tip (mancia) in Italy. This is because waiters do not live off tips and are paid a decent wage. If you feel so guilty that you cannot stop yourself from tipping, make sure it’s just a very small token of appreciation, such as the leftover change from your bill.
Il servizio ed il coperto sono inclusi?
Is service and cover charge included?
Tenga pure il resto.
Keep the change.
There are, of course, two mains ways you can pay for your meal: card or cash. Carta di credito is the name for a credit card, while bancomat is a debit card.
Posso pagare con la carta di credito / il bancomat?
Can I pay by credit card / debit card?
Posso pagare in contanti?
Can I pay with cash?
To conclude, here are a few other useful phrases you might need to use while you settle up.
Potrebbe farmi la fattura?
Could you give me an invoice?
Posso pagare alla cassa?
Can I pay at the front / counter?
Non ho abbastanza soldi. Vado un attimo a prelevare.
I don’t have enough money. I’ll go and take some out.
What the Waiter Might Say to You
Here are a few phrases the waiter will probably say to you at the end of your meal. Don’t worry too much about memorising them, but do try to become familiar with how they sound.
Posso portare via?
Can I take this away?
Have you finished?
Would you like something else?
Sono €50 in totale.
That comes to €50 in total.
Ecco il suo resto.
Here’s your change.
Was everything okay?
Tutto a posto?
Was everything okay?
This brings us to the end of our article about paying the check at an Italian restaurant. We sincerely hope that you have enjoyed this series, and that you feel more prepared for your visit to Italy. And remember to check out Part 1 and Part 2 if you haven’t already done so!
Heather Broster is a graduate with honours in linguistics from the University of Western Ontario. She is an aspiring polyglot, proficient in English and Italian, as well as Japanese, Welsh, and French to varying degrees of fluency. Originally from Toronto, Heather has resided in various countries, notably Italy for a period of six years. Her primary focus lies in the fields of language acquisition, education, and bilingual instruction.