Diner's dictionary Defining unfamiliar menu terms

Ravioli prepared by Wild Olive.

Fonduta (fohn/DOO/tah)

The Swiss don't have the monopoly on fondue: Just across the border, their Alpine neighbors in northwest Italy produce a melted cheese dish that's similar to the iconic apr├Ęs-ski snack, but not exactly the same.

Unlike fondue, which is traditionally made with melted gruyere, fonduta features fontina, a cow's milk cheese that's typically described as rich, nutty and funky. But the differences don't stop with the cheese selection. Fonduta is alcohol-free and thickened with egg yolks instead of cornstarch or flour. It's enriched by butter and milk.

While fonduta is usually served with toasted bread or dippable vegetables, it can also serve as a sauce. The New York Times recommends drizzling it over asparagus.

Wild Olive (Ravioli with sunchokes, potato, parmesan, black truffle butter, fontina fonduta, shallots, thyme, $10/$19)

Canned fonduta exists, but it's best reserved for emergency occasions. Most good cheese shops, such as goat.sheep.cow in downtown Charleston, stock fontina or fontal, a version of the cheese that doesn't come from Valle d'Aosta.

Because the American passion for melted cheese is boundless, Olive Garden serves a kind of Italian queso: Its smoked mozzarella fonduta is an oven-baked swirl of mozzarella, parmesan and provolone cheeses. For a more authentic version of the dish, try the agnolotti at Indaco, made with brisket, mushrooms and fonduta.