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The Ultimate Guide to Hosting an Authentic Italian Dinner Party

82% of Americans say they like or love Italian food, so if you’re having people over, this cuisine is a safe bet. Even the pickiest of eaters find it difficult to resist Italian dishes, which means you’re bound to make everyone happy.

However, if you’re hosting a dinner party, it’s not enough to order some pizzas and call it a night. To ensure that everyone talks about this night for years to come, you have to do some serious dinner party planning.

So to help you out, we’ve come up with the ultimate guide to hosting an Italian-themed dinner party. Read on to find out everything you need to do to make the night shine.


First off, you’ll need to pull together a fantastic menu that’ll have everyone raving. To make it truly Italian, here are the courses you should serve.


“Antipasti” is Italian for “appetizers.” One good option to pick is a variety of Italian cured meats, such as prosciutto, salami, and soppressata (here’s more about soppressata), as well as cheeses, olives, and marinated vegetables.

For a vegetarian-friendly option, serve up bruschetta. This is grilled bread with fresh tomatoes, garlic, and basil. Even the meat eaters will love this appetizer!

Primi Piatti

Primi piatti is the first course; typically, this is a pasta dish. Classic options include spaghetti carbonara, fettucine Alfredo, and lasagna.

If you want something classier, consider serving risotto. Saffron, mushrooms, or seafood are all excellent options.

Secondi Piatti

Secondi piatti is the main course, which should be hearty. Two to pick here are Osso Buco (braised veal shanks) or chicken Marsala.

Other considerations include grilled meats or fish with lemon and herbs.


“Contorni” are side dishes, and you should offer a nice range to suit all palates. Some examples are roasted vegetables (such as eggplant, zucchini, or bell peppers), or a simple salad with fresh and seasonal ingredients.

Italian Drinks for the Courses

You can start the evening with a light apertif, such as Aperol Spritz or Campari with soda. Then, you can serve Italian wines, including Chianti, Sangiovese, or Prosecco. For the beer drinkers, purchase Birra Moretti and Peroni.

What about non-alcoholic Italian drinks? Mix up tasty Italian sodas for the non-drinkers and kids.


Finish off the meal with some classic Italian recipes for dessert. Tiramisu, cannoli, and panna cotta are popular ones. Consider serving a large spread for guests to share and get a little taste of everything.

In addition, serve espresso or Italian coffee with these desserts. If your guests drink, then offer a selection of Italian liqueurs, such as limoncello or amaretto.


Forget about sending out invites through text messages or emails; putting in effort here will really impress your social circle. If you invite them by snail mail, they’ll know it’s serious. Plus, they’ll save your beautiful invites to remember the night.

Design invitations that evoke Italian elements, such as the flag or iconic landmarks like the Colosseum. Include a warm invitation message and ask them to come dressed in semi-formal attire to emphasize that it’s not just a casual get-together.

Want to add a special touch? Then incorporate Italian phrases or quotes. That’ll get a kick out of people!


Now that the menu and invitations are out of the way, we can move on to how you’re going to decorate your home. An easy way to do this is to use the Italian flag’s colors as the theme: green, white, and red. You can incorporate these hues into your tablecloth, napkins, and decorations.

To elevate the look further, use a rustic, Tuscan theme with earthy tones, olive branches, and vineyard-inspired elements. If you apply these to your yard, your guests will feel as if they’ve been whisked away overseas.

As for the table setting, use traditional Italian pottery or rustic plates for an authentic feel. Include olive oil bottles, wine glasses, and fresh flowers as centerpieces. If you use simple yet elegant tableware, it’ll enhance the Italian aesthetic.


A good dinner party’s food will shine through and make the night enjoyable enough. But don’t you want to go above and beyond? Then don’t forget about entertainment.

This doesn’t mean you need to spend additional money to hire entertainers either. Of course, for authenticity’s sake, live musicians and bands would be outstanding.

However, another great idea is creating your own playlist to show off at the dinner party. Not only can you upload traditional Italian music, but you can also mix it up with contemporary hits, too.

After dinner, everyone can digest and work off those calories by playing games. For example, you can go in the yard and play bocce ball, or if you’re too stuffed to move, then you can play a trivia quiz about Italy. Don’t be afraid to get creative.

Party Favors

Go the extra mile and send everyone home with some party favors. It doesn’t have to be anything big and expensive; simply stuff pretty bags with Italian-themed favors, such as olive oil, balsamic vinegar, or Italian cookies.

If you’ve cooked the dishes yourself for the dinner party, then chances are, people will ask you for your recipe. Spread the love and share the recipes from the evening by either handwriting or printing them to put in the bags. Your guests will appreciate it, as they’ll be able to recreate the dishes at home.

Host the Best Italian-Themed Dinner Party Ever

Hosting an Italian-themed dinner party can be a fun way to shake things up, especially if you and your friends have dinner at each other’s houses often. Considering that so many Americans like or love Italian cuisine, it’s a safe bet, and you can do so much to theme the night around it.

With our guide, you can put together an unforgettable experience. By paying attention to the above details, your truly authentic Italian-themed dinner party will transport your guests to the heart of Italy. Most likely, it’ll spark many more culinary nights around the world!

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