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5 Italian Dinner Party Ideas

Italian food has all the ingredients for a perfect dinner party!
Italian food has all the ingredients for a perfect dinner party!
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Want to throw a knockout dinner party your friends will talk about for months? The evening's ambiance and the chemistry among guests are important, but nothing trumps the food and drinks you serve. So why not please everyone's palate with an Italian-inspired feast?

What's not to love about a country's cuisine when it tends to revolve around cheese and wine? When planning your affair, first decide what kind Italian foods and drinks you want to serve, then choose how you want to present them. These five fun dinner party plans should give you a great place to start!

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Head over to the next page for an Italian dinner party idea that's sure to please everyone from kids to mob bosses.

Pasta is the quintessential Italian food.
Pasta is the quintessential Italian food.
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What's better than pasta for dinner? A bunch of different pastas! Hosting a pasta mixer is an easy and oh-so-delicious way to dress up your favorite noodles. Either make everything yourself or ask guests to bring an entree to share, potluck style. Set up stations in different areas of your kitchen or patio, and let guests serve themselves at their leisure. This informal structure naturally encourages guests to socialize and move about your home, so it's perfect for laid-back get-togethers.

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A pizza bash is an inexpensive way to entertain and please even the most finicky eaters (after all, who doesn't love pizza?). You can follow a recipe or improvise. Use store-bought dough or make your own. Just be sure to use fresh ingredients when crafting your sauce and choosing your toppings, as your party will quickly lose its pizzazz if the food tastes canned.

Enlist the help of your friends and make custom pizzas together. Make your own individual pies or collaborate to build one giant conglomeration of dough, toppings and cheese! Putting together a pizza is about as easy as making homemade food can get. However, this party isn't just about chowing down on great grub. It's about doing something tactile and fun in the kitchen, making it perfect for adults and kids alike.

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Tiramisu will please even the most finicky guest's sweet tooth!
Tiramisu will please even the most finicky guest's sweet tooth!
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Special life moments -- like graduations, wedding engagements, baby showers or milestone anniversaries -- call for equally exceptional celebrations. What better way to set the tone and ring in a happy occasion than with extraordinary Italian desserts? These sweet ideas are sure winners for your table:

  • Tiramisu: This Tuscan trifle features ladyfingers dipped in a coffee-flavored liqueur and layered with rich mascarpone cheese custard and grated chocolate. It's arguably Italy's most popular dessert.
  • Panna Cotta: This classic Italian custard is often served with caramel or chocolate sauce and wild fruit coulis.
  • Cassata Siciliana: As delicious as it is beautiful, this sponge cake is made with ricotta cheese, chocolate or vanilla filling and candied fruit peel.
  • Gelato: Created from a custard base of eggs and milk or cream, gelato is denser than ice cream and typically has less fat.
  • Tartufo di Pizzo: This specialty truffle concoction from the Calabria region in southern Italy is served as a large ball of chocolate or hazelnut ice cream filled with fudge sauce and rolled in cocoa powder.

Serve your Italian confection with a beverage that complements its sweet flavors, such as Italian dessert wine, a sparkling wine or espresso.

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Hosting a pairing party can be a blast! Select different Italian wines, based on varietal or region of origin and decide which foods to pair them with. White wines, for example, are generally thought to go better with seafood and pastas with cream sauce, while full-bodied red wines are well-paired with beef, chicken and aged cheeses. If you're not confidant choosing wines yourself, ask a sommelier at your local wine shop for suggestions or check bottle labels; sometimes recommended foods are included there.

Next, decide what kind of event you'd like to throw. Will you serve a five-course meal and pour a different wine to complement each course? Maybe you want to focus on profiling a series of cheeses and meats (think Italian tapas) that are well-matched to the spirits, rather than serving an entire dinner.

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Adventurous drinkers may enjoy a blind taste test. Cover each of your wines in a paper sack, then pour samples and ask guests try to identify the flavors in each drink. Afterward, reveal the wines' identity and see who has the best palate!

There are innumerable other options for hosting a paring party. Your imagination is the only limit!

An Italian feast is the perfect choice for a sit-down dinner party.
An Italian feast is the perfect choice for a sit-down dinner party.
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If you're a more-the-merrier type of host, consider serving a wide array of all things authentic Italian for a classic dinner to remember. Pasta may come to mind when you think of Italian food, but Italy is also known for its beef. Some traditional Italian steak entrees you may enjoy preparing include bracciole (stuffed flank steak), bresaola e rucola (Italian salami), or beef steak (which is similar to a grilled rib-eye).

A classic Italian feast works well for sit-down, more formal dinner parties. The setup encourages guests to sit, eat and talk to those seated nearby, rather than mill about mingling and sampling at casual food stations.

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Now that you have a handful of creative yet practical ways to throw an Italian dinner party, all you need is a bag of Italian-inspired groceries to get started and some friends to join you! Ciao!

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More Great Links

Sources

  • Bon Appetit. "What’s the Difference Between Ice Cream and Gelato?" 2011. (July 4, 2011)
  • Kington, Tom. "Salute! Italy beats France as biggest wine producer." "Dec. 11, 2008. (July 23, 2011)
  • Rustico Cooking. "Wine in Italy." (July 22, 2011)
  • Stradley, Linda. "Tiramisu -- Tuscan Trifle." What's Cooking America? 2004.

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