Get an authentic Italian dinner party menu plus ideas for table decorations & wine pairing inspired by our trip to Italy. Take guests on an Italian journey as you introduce them to this gorgeous Italian table setting. Fill them up with four Italian dinner courses perfectly paired with wine. It’s a wonderful way to share a taste of Italy with guests.
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.
Create Italian centerpieces inspired by the sites and traditions of Italy
The experience starts with the tablescape. 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.
Every course has a story in this Italian themed dinner party menu
COURSE 1 – Cheese & Charcuterie
The blueprint for the first course was taken directly from the lunch and wine pairing from our wine tasting tour.
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.
I added 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.
The pasta course for our Italian themed dinner party is directly inspired by a meal we had in Venice
COURSE 2 – Spaghetti with Clams
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 guests at my Italian themed dinner party & wine pairing.
WINE: Serve Pinot Grigio from Northeastern Italy with this pasta course. This light seafood dish demands a fresh white wine. 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.
An authentic Italian themed dinner party menu should include a Florentine steak
COURSE 3 – Florentine-style Steak with Green Beans
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 grape, 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 dinner party menu ends on a light note so you and guests can enjoy sipping on sweet 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 in, is a great way to end the meal. The wine is sweet, portions are small, and it’s meant to be sipped. We typically had it 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.