Italian Food Slang Dictionary

Occasionally, I will be in conversation, or watching a cooking show, or even sometimes reading a recipe and I will come across a word that I am not familiar with. It may be a cooking technique. It could be an ingredient. Many times it is pretty easy to find and I learn a little something.

Unfortunately it isn’t always that easy. I need an Italian food slang dictionary. Well, maybe not proper Italian as much as Italian-American. Every culture has their slang and different pronunciations of things, but for some reason it seems like I hear much more food slang in that cuisine corner. Here are a few of my investigations over the years (many of these were from watching too much of the Sopranos):

“Gravy” – This one is for beginners. When an Italian mentions gravy, don’t think of that light or dark brown sauce you have with your roast beef or Thanksgiving turkey. Gravy = red sauce.

“Proshoot” – This does not refer to a marksman with a rifle or pistol but one of my favorite Italian meats – prosciutto. Walk into an Italian deli and ask for “proshuuto” and they’ll instantly peg you as non-Italian. Ask for “proshoot” and they’ll peg you for a non-Italian trying to fake it!

“Gabagool” – This one not only stumped me at first but millions of others. Over 50,000 hits come back when you search for “gabagool”. I’m sure there are thousands others with variants of the spelling. “gabagool” is capicola (another Italian meat). Of the 8 letters in capicola, only the a and the o make an appearance in “gabagool”.

“Breejole” – This was my most recent investigation and it comes from another television show, Everyone Loves Raymond. In one episode called Debra Makes Something Good, a dish is mentioned several times that really sounds like “preejole”. I couldn’t find it anywhere. Finally I searched on the episode name and found it – Braciole.

The really funny thing is that I had already made the dish….twice.

Photo Mar 11, 5 12 20 PM

I thought this was very good.

Photo Mar 11, 1 00 35 PM

I purchased thinly sliced beef to make things much easier. This one is “breejole with proshoot”!

Photo Mar 11, 1 17 05 PM

Making the “gravy”.

Photo Mar 11, 1 52 42 PM

I show the three layers here before the rolling.

Photo Mar 11, 2 14 20 PM

All rolled up and ready to go.

Photo Mar 11, 5 00 55 PM

Getting the pasta ready while the meat stews.

Photo Mar 11, 5 10 52 PM

The meat melts in your mouth.

Photo Mar 11, 5 12 15 PM

I think I would have made Debra proud!

Braciole With Orecchiette

Prep Time: 30 M | Cook Time: 2 H 30 M | Makes: 6 servings | Difficulty: Easy


  • 2 cups stale 1/2-inch Italian bread cubes
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic (2 smashed; 2 minced)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 28-ounce container strained tomatoes or tomato puree
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds beef bottom round, sliced into 12 thin pieces
  • 12 thin slices prosciutto
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese, plus more for topping
  • 6 ounces aged provolone cheese
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound orecchiette


Combine the bread and milk in a large bowl and let soak, 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: Cook the olive oil, smashed garlic and red pepper flakes in a large pot over medium-high heat, stirring, until the garlic softens, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until it begins to sizzle, about 2 minutes. Add the strained tomatoes, bay leaves and 5 cups water; bring to a boil and cook 20 minutes.

Place the beef slices between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound with a heavy skillet until 1/16 inch thick. Position the slices with the short sides facing you and lay a slice of prosciutto on top of each. Add 1/2 cup parsley, the pecorino and minced garlic to the soaked bread and mix with your hands, breaking up the bread; spread on top of the prosciutto.

Cut the provolone into twelve 2-to-3-inch-long sticks, about 1/2 inch thick. Put a piece of cheese horizontally across the middle of each slice of beef and trim any overhanging cheese. Starting with a short end, tightly roll up the beef and secure with a toothpick.

Transfer the braciole to the sauce. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover and simmer 1 hour. Uncover, stir and reduce the heat to low; continue simmering, uncovered, until the beef is tender and the sauce thickens, 1 more hour. (Add up to 1 cup water if the sauce gets too thick.) Discard the bay leaves. Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup parsley and season with salt.

About 20 minutes before serving, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. Remove the braciole from the sauce and transfer to a platter; remove the toothpicks. Pour half of the sauce on top. Drain the pasta and toss with the remaining sauce. Serve the braciole with the pasta; top with pecorino.


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Categories: Beef, Cheese3, Italian, Main Dish 3, Pasta, Pork2, Recipes

Author:The Ranting Chef

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3 Comments on “Italian Food Slang Dictionary”

  1. December 26, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

    I’ve only made Braciole a few times and I do love it ! Your recipe looks excellent &, as always, I’m going to pin it. About languages, it does seem the farther people get from ‘the motherland’, the more vowels they seem to drop. As you mentioned, Italian-Americans seem to have dropped many of the ending vowel sounds. And French Canadians drop many of their end vowel sounds as well – and now we Americans seem to have begun to say things like ‘gonna’ instead of ‘going’. Even our president says, ‘gonna’. Thank you for your ‘Food Slang Dictionary”! I really enjoyed reading it!!


  2. December 27, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    Looks delicious. I love making fancy meals instead of the same old same old. Looking forward to attempting this. Italian is my favorite. Thanks for sharing and Happy New Year 🙂


  3. January 4, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

    Having Italian descent, I could eat pasta and sauce 365 days a year. My family? Not so much, they get bored with it and my husband always wants some kind of meat with it. I’ve always wanted to try Braciole but I’ve been too intimidated to try. Your version looks simple so I’ll be making it this week!


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