Tips for a Successful Italian-American Dinner Party

Through the years, the Italian people have always been known for one special thing, which could be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere– their food!  Italian food is one of the most versatile and well loved throughout the world, and this makes it the perfect candidate for the menu for a dinner party.  In fact, rather than simply use the Italian food for the party; you can use an entire Italian theme to make your own Italian-American dinner party your guests will be talking about for years to come.

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Photo Credit: Spicy Southern Kitchen via Pinterest

The best day to plan your Italian-American dinner party is one in which your guests will have a long time to linger around and enjoy all of the food you have to offer them.  In Italy, this day of the week is generally Sunday.  The informal gathering usually starts around one, since many people attend morning mass services, and doesn’t end until the evening time when it is time to take your children home to bed.

Your own Italian-American dinner party can be one of comfort and relaxation.  The focus should be on the food rather than on the table and room decorations.  Your tablecloth should be simple white linen and flowers for the table are unnecessary.   The best centerpieces are a bowl of nuts, some fresh breads, dishes of grated locatelli or parmesan cheese, and simple crushed red pepper flakes.  Your dinner service can be your everyday dishes and even the incorporation of simple plastic dinnerware for the children.

A simple wine will do for a classic Italian dinner party. Italian people enjoy wine with their meals and the wine is an excellent compliments to the various Italian foods you will be serving.  For those guests who do not drink alcohol, consider having some soda and bottled water available as alternatives.

The first course of food for your Italian-American dinner party should be an antipasto made up of meats (ham, salami and prosciutto), marinated vegetables, cheeses such as provolone and mozzarella, and roasted red peppers.  Your antipasto course can be served on a tray or mixed together in a bowl with an Italian dressing poured over it.

The second course of food for your Italian-American dinner party should be a simple Italian soup.  The soup should be served in small bowls so that everyone in attendance doesn’t become too full to enjoy the next courses of your meal.

Generally after serving your antipasto and soup, then comes the main pasta and tomato sauce dish.  The most popular options for your pasta dish are homemade ravioli, lasagna or manicotti served with a meat sauce which may or may not include meatballs.  To accompany your main dish you might choose to serve such foods as sweet potatoes, artichokes, salads or string beans.  While you want the focus to be on your main dish, you also want your guests to have some variety to choose from at all times.

For your desert course at your Italian-American dinner party, you should choose something from the following list:  fresh in season fruits, figs, cakes, cookies or an Italian pastry.  Because your guests will likely be very full, plan to serve desert at least one hour after the main meal, and allow for it to be something light rather than something rich and heavy.

It always amazes me that the above is the typical Sunday for most all Italian families.  How they manage to eat all of this food, week after week, and yet not gain a lot of weight is a serious mystery to behold.  However, for your once in a while dinner party, a traditional Italian feast makes a wonderful, and simple, menu which will be enjoyed by both the adults and children in attendance.

The most important thing you need to remember about hosting an Italian-American dinner party is that it is all about your guests and the food, not about the cleanliness and order in your home.  Cook some good food, and enjoy your friends and family.

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