There are some foods that are difficult to eat non-awkwardly. They’re hard to pick up with your fork and hard to always get into your mouth in a single clean bite. Salad is one. Pasta, at least of the strand variety, is another.
Whether or not you’re pounding your pasta properly may be of little import when you’re eating in the privacy of your own home. But when you’re on a date, and there’s someone sitting across from you, staring at your mouth, the question takes on a bit more urgency. You don’t want to get food on your face or your shirt. You want to impress, come off as well-mannered, and eat your pasta like a smooth operator.
To do so, the big thing to know is that even if your place setting includes a spoon, knife, and fork, you’ll only be using that last utensil to eat your pasta. You’re not going to cut your spaghetti into pieces, and you’re not going to twirl it on a spoon. That latter point may be controversial, and if you’re an avowed spoon twirler, no one’s going to stop you from continuing the practice. But using a fork alone is the authentic Italian way to do things.
Beyond that, follow the other dos and don’ts illustrated above. And maybe order the soup instead of the salad.