We certainly have our flaws, but when it comes to hosting dinner parties, we know how to do it right. Whether you’ve missed your usual trip to the Bel Paese this year, or are simply looking for an excuse to sip some Aperol Spritz with your closest friends, here are some tips for hosting the perfect traditional Italian themed dinner party.
Useful Tips for Hosting a Party Made in Italy
Italian Dinner Ideas and Tips
Before getting started with the preparation of your Italian dinner party, here are a few rules to follow for perfect success.
The Italian culinary culture is based on the idea of real food: the food should be as simple as possible, because when the ingredients are good, there’s not much work to do. Use a maximum of two or three flavors for any dish, and let the food speak for itself.
It’s always important to eat locally for us, according to what can be found in nature at that time of the year. This ensures a higher quality of the ingredients, as well as more ethical food consumption.
A Plate for Every Dish
Differently from other countries of the world, in Italy we tend to avoid one-pot meals, preferring menus made of different courses. The flavors of every dish should not mix and match though, so we always use a different plate for every course.
No Disposable Items
The words ‘dinner party’ might let you think of plastic forks and paper plates, but that’s definitely a no-go area. We love a good table setting, even when it’s just an informal dinner: it makes everything taste much better.
Italian Recipes and Dishes
And now the serious matter: what to serve for an Italian dinner party? Choices are endless, so we suggest building the menu around your favorite Italian dishes, something you have tried and loved during your travels through the country. The only important thing is to follow the multiple course structure!
If you want to do things properly, kick off the evening with a truly Italian aperitivo: Aperol Spritz, green olives, a cheese board, and some Apulian taralli are a good mix to offer your guests on arrival.
We love starting the meal with an opener, as it sets the mood and helps guests interact with each other. Think of big sharing plates to keep in the middle of the table: cured meats and ham, tomato bruschettas, fried artichokes, and olive spread crostini.
For the first course, you’ll probably want to opt for pasta. Because who doesn’t love good pasta? Browse the hundreds of Italian recipes you’ve saved during the years and pick your favorite: carbonara, amatriciana, or a simple olive oil, garlic, and chilly pepper for a vegetarian alternative. You could also try your luck at handmade lasagna!
Meat and fish are normally our second course, but if you want to avoid making things too heavy for your guests you can easily skip this step in favor of the ‘primo’. If you’d rather count on proteins than carbs though, skip the pasta and focus on ‘secondo’. It’s your call.
No Italian dinner party menu would be complete without a ‘dolce’. From tiramisù to crostata and chocolate Caprese cake, we’ve got plenty of options to satisfy a sweet tooth. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and things are getting too complicated in the kitchen, you can also just buy some artisanal gelato: it’s the ultimate Italian sweet after all.
Last but not least, think about the wine: drinking at dinner is our favorite way to consume alcohol. Normally we pair red wine with red meat-based dishes and white wine with fish and chicken.
Italian Themed Table: How to Decorate It
When the menu has been decided, it’s time to have fun with the table setting. Our advice is to start from the textiles: they will set the atmosphere and help you build the rest of the table accordingly.
If you want to be bold about your Italian theme, you can opt for a printed tablecloth with lemon or olive motifs, while high-quality linen tablecloths in neutral tones will be great for a more elegant Italian dinner party. If it’s the vintage romantic look you’re after though, an embroidered table set is a perfect choice. Remember that you could also opt for a mix of coordinated runners and placemats to do things a bit differently.
When the base is set, proceed with the rest: ceramics, glasses, cutlery, and cloth napkins, as they’re the most sustainable and chic option.
Finally, think about the table decor. Candles are great for intimate and magical dinners, especially in autumn and winter, while floral centerpieces are sure to make an impact during the warmer seasons. Decide how to decorate your Italian table and have fun!
Essentials for a Themed Italian Dinner
Now that everything is in place, there are just a few essential elements left for the ultimate Italian dinner party.
To really bring Italy home, put some traditional Italian music on. This Trattoria Italiana Spotify playlist features some mandolin music to accompany your supper.
We love taking our time: to savor the food, to get our head tipsy, to create memories with the people we love. Don’t rush anything on your Italian evening, go slow and enjoy the flow.
In Italy, it’s all about the conversation! Food is just an excuse to come together and debate on everything and anything. Make sure your guests are sitting in a way that encourages conversations and laughs.
And now, buon appetito!