Do you need some inspiration for planning an Italian Dinner party? I've got all my favorite Italian dinner party recipes, decoration ideas, and music tips in one place to help you create a festive Italian feast for a memorable dinner party.
- Let's Have An Italian Themed Dinner
- Italian Dinner Party Ideas
- Italian Dinner Vocabulary
- Italian Appetizer Recipes
- Italian Pasta Recipes for Il Primo
- Secondo The Italian Main Course
- Contorno - The Side Dishes
- Dolci Italian Dessert Recipes
- Healthy Vegan and Vegetarian Alternatives
- Italian Dinner Party Music
- Italian Table Decorations
- More Party Theme Ideas
If you are planning a party, I have some tips to make it easier. Be sure to visit and pin my Party Tips For Serving Tea To A Crowd, How Much Taco Meat For A Crowd, and several posts that will help you safely use your slow cooker for entertaining.
If you need a way to organize all your Italian dinner party ideas, get this Free Printable Party Planner to help you quickly throw a fun and memorable party. It has a lot of pdf pages you can place into a party binder to keep the process of planning a party easy.
Let's Have An Italian Themed Dinner
Whether you're planning an elaborate Taste of Italy or a simple family dinner for a special occasion, there are lots of options when it comes to planning the menu for your Italian feast.
Much of Italian food is made with simple ingredients that highlight the freshness of the foods.
Italian Dinner Party Ideas
When planning your own Italian-themed dinner party, consider setting the tables with traditional Italian decor, serving up your favorite Italian red or white wine, and add some Italian-themed music for the occasion. But most importantly, choose a variety of recipes showcasing the foods commonly served in Italian cuisine.
Italian Dinner Vocabulary
Traditionally Italian dinners consist of many courses, typically more than those commonly served in the United States.
Let's start out by learning some Italian dinner definitions. Then as you skim through the recipes below, you will find some Italian recipes to fit most of these different courses in the list below.
- Aperitivo: A small glass of liqueur enjoyed before the meal, like Prosecco or Campari.
- Antipasto: A traditional Italian meal starts with something to nibble on, called an antipasto, which translates into English as “before the meal.” Can include hot and cold Italian appetizers like Italian cheese, sopprasatta, bread, and dressed vegetables.
- Primo: In Italy, pasta is a first course, or primo, served as an appetizer, not as the main event. Soup, rice, and polenta are the other options for the primo.
- Secondo: The main course is called il secondo, or the second course. Chicken, meat, or fish are the usual choices for the main dish, and portions are generally small. These main courses are usually fairly simple, especially if a rich pasta or rice dish precedes them.
- Contorno: A platter of cooked or fresh vegetables usually accompanies the main course. This side dish highlights the simple goodness of the vegetable.
- Dolce and Caffe: A dolce (or sweet) ends a traditional Italian meal. A caffe refers to coffee and its permutations. It's a must with the dessert.
- Digestivo: A “digestive” or after dinner liqueur like grappa and limoncello is often served at the end of a meal.
Aperitivo (or apéritif) is often described as being similar to the American happy hour or cocktail hour held before a dinner party. An aperitivo is more like a pre-meal drink specifically meant to whet your appetite.
Italian Appetizer Recipes
An appetizer in Italy is called an antipasto. It can be served hot or cold, cooked or raw.
Antipasti (plural form) can be served on individual plates, in bite-sized pieces on a plate that is passed around the table, or presented as an elegant centerpiece for everyone to share.
Italian Pasta Recipes for Il Primo
This first course traditionally includes pasta, soup, rice, or creamy risotto. While in the US, we often associate pasta as a main meal, in Italy, it's the start of the meal.
Keep the portions small and make it self-serve. Let your guests know there is more coming, so they don't fill up!
Easy Entertaining Tip: How about having an Italian pasta bar meal? Serve different types of pasta shapes, spaghetti, cork, and bow tie. Then, have several sauces for toppings. Just add a simple salad and bread, and you have a wonderful Italian pasta bar meal.
Spaghetti Sauce With Fresh Tomatoes
Secondo The Italian Main Course
Most often consisting of a meat dish, this course often is served in smaller portions than commonly served in the United States.
Eggplant and Beef Meatballs
Contorno - The Side Dishes
Fresh Tomato Salad With Italian Herbs
Dolci Italian Dessert Recipes
An Italian dinner party should definitely end with an amazing dessert! Here you will find several faves from super easy to more elaborate creations.
When I was in Italy, I spent some time with Giulia Scarpaleggia of Jul's Kitchen. She is a charming chef with a heart for teaching the world how to cook authentic Italian food. Her stories and recipes are a delight.
Authentic Italian Almond Biscotti
She has a wonderful Italian cookbook full of beautiful stories, pictures, and great recipes. I highly recommend adding I Love Toscana to your collections.
Healthy Vegan and Vegetarian Alternatives
✝️ Hospitality Tip: In the churches that Paul visited, meals were the setting for most, if not all, church gatherings. When serving an Italian dinner, bring up a discussion about Paul's time in Rome. (Acts 28:11-31 )
Italian Dinner Party Music
Create a playlist on Amazon Music or Spotify. Italian-American flair would be hit by Dean Martin and Rosemary Clooney. You could add classical opera by Puccini, or a more contemporary sound with Eros Ramazzotti or Lucio Battisti.
Italian Table Decorations
This Vicarious Life sets the mood with a rustic Italian dinner theme. Natural elements such as wood placemats, dried leaf garlands on a simple white table cloth
Inspired by This shows how to create a table centerpiece using the vegetables you will be serving in your menu. This tablescape is created with cabbage, eggplant, tomatoes, artichokes, fresh herbs,
Style Me Pretty has a beautiful picture teaching us how to set up an olive bar for our party. A variety of olive oils, bottles of vinegar, olives, and fresh cubes of bread give your guest delicious choices to fill their plates with.
Cortney over at Pizzazzerie sets her tables with red checkered napkins, fresh herbs. She shares with us how to create a fun Italian word search name card as part of the table setting.
Fantabulosity shares with us a cute idea for an Italian dinner party table setting that uses bread as decorations. In the
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