How To Host The BEST Italian Dinner Party – Menu, Tablescape, Wine & More!

We’ve got the best Italian dinner party menu plan and Italian tablescape ideas right here! These Italian themed dinner party ideas and wine pairings are perfect for entertaining at home. It’s a wonderful way to share a taste of Italy with guests.

Italian dinner party menu and tablescape

Italian Dinner Party 

I’m excited to share this Italian themed menu & wine pairing with you. Take guests on a culinary journey as you welcome them with a gorgeous Italian table setting and 4-course meal paired with specially curated wine selection. 

These dinner party menu ideas are inspired by our trip abroad. Everything here is directly influenced by our travels to Italy 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.

See more party ideas for incorporating wine in this balsamic tasting party and this dinner party with mini cheese boards.

taste of Italy invitation wording
rustic Italian table setting ideas
Italian table setting with Italian plates
terra cotta pieces as place cards

Italian tablescape

After our visit to Italy I feel confident in sharing these ideas for an authentic Italian-style dinner and wine pairing.

The experience starts with the tablescape. There are so many elements that give this table a Tuscan vibe.

  • The table setting starts with a long, rustic farm table perfect for seating lots of family and friends.
  • 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 broken terracotta pieces, and a printed menu with wine list.
  • Each guest gets Italian truffles as a party favor. I brought these back from the trip so it’s a fun way to give everyone a real taste of Italy!
Italian theme table setting
Italian themed dinner party centerpiece with sunflowers and terra cotta
Italian themed dinner party & wine pairing

Centerpiece ideas

Create an Italian centerpiece inspired by the sites and traditions of Italy.

  • A table runner decorated with broken pieces of terracotta mimic the rooftops of Italian buildings and homes.
  • Sunflowers tucked into the runner echo the sunflower fields we saw in Tuscany on our wine tasting tour.
  • Potted rosemary is 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.
Italian dinner party menu
how to host an Italian dinner party

Dinner Menu

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.

first course charcuterie and cheese

1st COURSE – 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 pairing for charcuterie

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-pleaser.

As an alternative you can serve Prosecco. The bubbles are perfectly suited to cleansing the palate from the rich meat and cheese.

second course spaghetti with clams

2nd COURSE – 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 pairing for seafood pasta

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.

PARTY TIP: When in doubt, choose wine and food from the same region. 

Tuscan style steaks on wood board
drizzle olive oil on steaks
third course Tuscan steak with green beans

3rd COURSE – Florentine-style Steak

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 it 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 pairing for steak

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.

fourth course biscotti with berries and vin santo

4th COURSE – 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 pairing for dessert

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.

PARTY TIP: Treat guests to a bit of Limoncello 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.

See more fun Italian themed party ideas.

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  1. I hosted a party very similar to this a few years back, but your table looks WAY prettier than mine did. Definitely some inspiration for the next time I attempt something like this. Thanks so much for sharing!

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