Get the best Italian dinner party menu plan and Italian tablescape ideas right here. We’ve got the perfect Italian wine pairings for our themed party too. Take guests on a culinary journey as you welcome them with this gorgeous Italian table setting. Fill them up with these Italian dinner menu ideas paired with wine. It’s a wonderful way to share a taste of Italy with guests.
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Italian Dinner Party Menu Plan & Tablescape
This Italian dinner party menu includes a 4-course meal paired with specially curated wine selection.
I’m so excited to share our Italian themed dinner party & wine pairing. Over the past few months I’ve been sharing home entertaining ideas for incorporating high-quality Italian wines. For those, you can see this balsamic tasting party and this dinner party with mini cheese boards.
After our visit to Italy this summer I feel comfortable in presenting you with these ideas for an authentic Italian themed dinner & wine pairing. Everything is inspired directly from our trip, including the table setting, the menu, and the Italian wine selections.
And while we may not have the fresh clams from Venice or the Florentine steak from Tuscany, we do have premium wines of Italy. At about $15 and up per bottle you can enjoy an amazing selection to complement your meal.
Italian themed dinner party centerpiece
The experience starts with the tablescape. Create an Italian centerpiece inspired by the sites and traditions of Italy.
There are so many elements to this table that make it authentic.
- A long, rustic farm table perfect for lots of family and friends.
- A table runner decorated with broken pieces of terracotta mimic the rooftops of so many Italian buildings and homes.
- Sunflowers tucked into the runner echo the sunflower fields we saw in Tuscany on our day of the wine tasting tour.
- Potted rosemary was found on many restaurant tables, as well as bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar to accompany the bread. Other centerpiece items commonly seen were candles, of course.
- Traditional Italian plates set the scene and instantly transport me to an Italian home brimming with people. Using my grandmother’s vintage silverware reinforces the presence of family and tradition.
- Special touches at each place setting include name cards made from the same broken terracotta pieces, a printed menu with wine pairing, and Italian truffles I brought back from the trip.
Menu for Italian Dinner Party
Everyone knows that Italian food is da Bomb! But there’s more to it than spaghetti & sauce, or lasagna. The pizza is divine! And there’s lots of beef dishes, as well as seafood dishes.
With that in mind, serve up a 4-course meal perfectly paired with Italian wine. Every course has a story in this Italian themed dinner party.
It covers different regions and their specialties with Tuscany and Venice being the two key locations.
COURSE 1 – Cheese & Charcuterie
The blueprint for the first course was taken directly from our wine tasting tour. The appetizer course consisted of cheese, cured meats, and a small salad in the center of the plate.
In this case, I brought back some wild-boar salami that I bought in the market in Florence. It tastes amazing and wild boar is very popular in Tuscany.
Add a few thin wedges of Parmigiana cheese, and Gorgonzola dolce. Two Italian cheeses that offer very different flavor profiles and textures but go great with the salami and the wine I chose.
Add a tiny salad in the center of the plate and some crostini for a complete appetizer.
WINE: Serve red Barbera wine with this first course. It’s grown in the Piedmont and Lombardy regions of Italy and is light in taste with flavors of berries. The high acidity in the Barbera grape makes it ideal to pair with rich salami and cheeses. I chose a Barbera d’Asti, which comes from the area around the town of Asti in Piedmont in northwestern Italy. This wine is always a crowd-please’r.
As an alternative you can serve Prosecco. The bubbles are perfectly suited to cleansing the palate from the rich meat and cheese.
COURSE 2 – Spaghetti with Clams
The pasta course for our Italian meal is directly inspired by a meal we had in Venice.
While in Venice we found a quaint restaurant for dinner, tucked in an alleyway. As I pondered the menu asking the waiter for recommendations he declared, “you’re in Venice, you have to get the clams!” So with that, I ordered and had an amazing meal of spaghetti with clams.
The Italians have a way of making even the simplest ingredients taste amazing! This is the perfect pasta course to serve an Italian dinner party for friends.
WINE: Serve Pinot Grigio from Northeastern Italy with this pasta course. This light seafood dish demands a white wine with a clean finish. Since Venice is in the Northeastern part of Italy, I chose a Pinot Grigio from the Friuli region to the north. Pinot Grigio from Friuli naturally tends towards a creamier, richer style that pairs brilliantly with strong flavors.
HOSTESS TIP: When in doubt, choose wine and food from the same region.
COURSE 3 – Florentine-style Steak with Green Beans
An authentic Italian dinner menu should include a Florentine steak.
You can’t spend five days in Florence and not have a Florentine Steak! Tuscany has some of the best beef in the world from Chianina cattle, and they are proud of it. The steaks, aka La Bistecca, are a Porterhouse cut. The thing that makes the steaks so unique is how simply it’s prepared, how thickly it’s cut, and how rare it’s cooked.
I re-created that experience with some Porterhouse steaks I got from the butcher. They’re not as thick as those in Italy but they give your guests a feel for the lifestyle. These are sharing size so for a party of six you’d cook 3 steaks that are at least a pound each, with bone in. We followed these instructions for cooking.
WINE: Chianti is king when serving La Bistecca! It’s the quintessential pairing in Tuscany. Get the highest quality you can afford so you get the best experience. Chianti Classicos should be easy to find, and if you are looking to splurge, grab a Chianti Classico Riserva. Made from Sangiovese grapes, Chianti Classico has the perfect amount of tannins and acidity to cleanse your palate after all that juicy steak.
COURSE 4 – Biscotti & berries
When we first arrived at our hotel in Florence we were welcomed with a tray of biscotti, berries, and Vin Santo wine. Not only was this a nice afternoon snack, it’s also a fantastic light dessert. This Italian themed party ends on a light note so you and guests can enjoy sipping on sweet after-dinner wine.
After three deliciously filling courses of Italian food, the last thing you want your guests to do is feel overly full. Serving a couple of biscotti with sweet Vin Santo dessert wine to dip them into, is a great way to finish the meal.
The wine is sweet, portions are small, and it’s meant to be sipped. It’s typically served in cordial or shot-style glasses which is how I serve it here.
WINE: Vin Santo is a sweet dessert wine popular in Tuscany, however it’s produced in several regions. It’s viscous with light amber color and flavors of hazelnut, almonds, dried fruits, and honey.
HOSTESS TIP: Treat guests to a bit of Lemoncello after dinner. This lemon liqueur is served after dinner at most restaurants, and was always included at no extra charge. Pour it into a shot size glass or cordial glass and sip on it as you linger into the night.
Include these authentic Italian dinner party ideas the next time you entertain at home. The foods are prepared simply and the wines are exceptional in taste and quality.