How To Host An Italian Dinner Party

This blog post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for any purchases made through these links. Click here for the disclosure statement.

Italy, the land of ancient history, breathtaking landscapes, and, of course, mouthwatering cuisine. Hosting an Italian dinner party is not just about serving delicious food; it's about creating an unforgettable experience that captures the warmth and joy of Italian hospitality. Whether you're celebrating a special occasion or simply want to treat your loved ones to an evening of delectable flavors, follow this step-by-step guide to host an authentic Italian dinner party that will transport your guests straight to the heart of Italy.

Create the Right Ambiance

Creating the right ambiance is essential for an Italian dinner party. Opt for a rustic and cozy setting reminiscent of a trattoria in Tuscany.

Candlelight adds a romantic and intimate ambiance to any dinner party. Use candles of varying heights and sizes in the center of the table. You can place them in decorative candle holders or even use empty wine bottles as unique candlesticks. The flickering glow of candles will create a cozy and inviting atmosphere.

Soft Italian music playing in the background can further enhance the ambiance. Create a playlist with a mix of classic Italian melodies, romantic ballads, and traditional songs. Italian opera can also add a touch of sophistication to the dining experience. Adjust the volume so that the music remains in the background, allowing guests to converse comfortably.

Set the Table

When it comes to setting the table for your Italian dinner party, keep it effortless. With a few simple touches, you can create a sophisticated table setting that will impress your guests without appearing too extravagant.

Start by covering the table with a tablecloth or placemats in warm colors like red, green, or earthy tones. A classic checkered pattern is a popular choice that adds a rustic and traditional touch, reminiscent of Italian trattorias.

Next, add your dinner plates and cutlery. To contrast the casualness of the tablecloth, choose a formal dinner plate. You can use whatever plates are already own or pick up vintage ones from your local flea market. They can even be mismatched if you please. Place the necessary cutlery next to each plate, usually a fork (on the left side of the plate), knife and spoon (both on the right side).

Set the glassware above the knives and spoons. Include a water glass, a wine glass, and optionally, a champagne flute if you plan to serve Prosecco or other sparkling wine for aperitivo or dessert.

Incorporate Italian-themed decorative elements into the table setting. For example, you can use Italian ceramics, such as colorful salad or pasta bowls, as serving dishes. Place decorative wine bottles or wine corks as additional accents. Consider using place cards or menu cards with Italian-inspired designs to add a personalized touch to each guest's seat.

Italian Dinner Party Menu

Italian cuisine is renowned for its regional diversity and vibrant flavors. Craft a menu that highlights classic Italian dishes while incorporating the seasonal produce available.


Start your Italian dinner party with a selection of antipasti, or appetizers, that showcase the best of Italy's cuisine. Offer a platter of bruschetta, featuring crispy slices of Italian bread topped with ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Complement this with a colorful antipasti platter featuring marinated olives, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, and cured meats like prosciutto and salami. Don't forget to include a bowl of creamy burrata or mozzarella di bufala served with sliced prosciutto for a luxurious touch.

Primo Piatto

No Italian dinner party would be complete without a pasta dish as the primo piatto, or first course. Prepare a classic pasta dish such as spaghetti carbonara, where al dente pasta is tossed with eggs, pecorino cheese, pancetta, and freshly cracked black pepper. Alternatively, serve a comforting bowl of risotto, like a creamy saffron-infused risotto alla Milanese or a mushroom and truffle risotto. Pair these dishes with a refreshing green salad dressed with a simple vinaigrette to cleanse the palate.

Secondo Piatto

For the secondo piatto, present your guests with a delightful array of main course options that showcase Italy's love for fresh ingredients and robust flavors. Offer a succulent osso buco, a Milanese specialty of braised veal shanks with gremolata, a zesty mix of lemon zest, garlic, and parsley. For seafood lovers, serve branzino al forno, a whole roasted sea bass drizzled with lemon and herbs. Accompany these mains with a side of grilled vegetables, such as eggplant, zucchini, and bell peppers, seasoned with olive oil and aromatic herbs.


Complement your main courses with a selection of contorno, or side dishes. Roasted rosemary potatoes, sautéed spinach with garlic, or a simple caprese salad with sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil are excellent choices that enhance the overall dining experience.


Indulge your guests with a sweet finale that captures the essence of Italian dolci, or desserts. Serve classic favorites like tiramisu, where layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers are layered with mascarpone cheese and cocoa powder. Alternatively, offer the delightful simplicity of panna cotta, a silky custard topped with fresh berries or caramel sauce. You can also present a platter of Italian cookies and biscotti alongside a steaming cup of espresso for an authentic Italian treat.


As a traditional Italian touch, offer a selection of digestivi, or digestifs, to aid in the digestion of the sumptuous meal. Sip on a glass of limoncello, a zesty lemon liqueur, or try amaro, a herbal and bittersweet liqueur, both of which are popular choices in Italy. You can also offer coffee or espresso.

Wine and Beverages

Pairing the right wine with your Italian dinner is key to elevating the culinary experience. Italy boasts an array of exceptional wines that complement various dishes. Offer a selection of reds, whites, and a sparkling Prosecco for toasts. Some popular choices include Chianti, Barolo, Pinot Grigio, and Lambrusco. Non-alcoholic alternatives like sparkling water with a splash of lemon or an Italian soda can be served for guests who prefer non-alcoholic beverages.

The Italian Spirit of Sharing

Italians cherish the spirit of togetherness and sharing during mealtime. Encourage your guests to converse, laugh, and enjoy each other's company just as Italians do. Embrace the Italian tradition of passing platters of food around the table, allowing everyone to savor various dishes and engage in lively discussions.

As a thoughtful gesture, prepare small Italian-inspired favors for your guests to take home. Consider gifting them a mini bottle of high-quality olive oil, a packet of Italian coffee, or artisanal pasta. Attach a thank-you note expressing your gratitude for their presence at the dinner party.

Hosting an Italian dinner party is more than just serving food; it's about embracing the Italian way of life, where food, family, and friendship are cherished above all. From the inviting ambiance and a mouthwatering menu to the perfect wine pairings and delightful desserts, your guests will be transported on a culinary journey to Italy. Buon appetito!

Are you hosting an Italian dinner party? What dishes are you serving? Let me know in the comments below.




By Lily


The Fall 2023 Trend Report


What to Wear Instead of Black: 12 Alternatives for Every Color Season