How To Host An Easy Italian Dinner Party

Easy Italian Dinner Party

The last dinner party I did was a French dinner party. It turned out to be a success and so, in the spirit of Blogmas, I hosted an easy Italian dinner party for the holidays Now the menu is pretty simple and can be relevant to any time of the year. So, why Italian? Well, I’ve studied abroad in France, Italy, and Spain. Out of those places, Italy was my favorite! I absolutely loved my stay there. So, since we’ve done the French theme, why not do an Italian theme?

When I studied in Italy, I lived with a host family. So, I got a taste of what a typical dinner was like. However, a huge formal Italian dinner party is very different from your everyday dinner. This is true for most of us, I think! During my stay, I think I only experienced this kind of dinner twice.

In Italy, it is not uncommon to have a 4 to 6-hour dinner. Dinners almost always start late. I remember it being 8 pm and I still had to wait for dinner to be ready. However, I think this is true for a lot of Europe. So, if you want to get as close to the real thing as possible, that’s something to consider. My guests have lives and starting at 8 pm probably wouldn’t have been ideal. Additionally, I’m not Italian and I’m not amazing at cooking. So, this is going to be an easy Italian dinner party. Think of it as a dinner party series for beginners!

Make sure you have the basics like a good olive oil, salt (kosher salt is my new favorite), and pepper.

Italian Dinner Party- BruschettaEasy Italian Dinner Party

For this easy Italian dinner party, there are about 9 “courses,” but don’t fret! A few of these courses are drinks and you really only have to cook two of them.Also, have some bread, olive oil, salt, and pepper out during the entire meal. Of course, this isn’t super authentic, but this is what I remember from my time in Italy.

I’ve got my grocery list and the menu below for download. However, please continue reading to fully understand everything.


Now, aperitivo could be a few things. Most of the time it’s having a glass of prosecco. Sometimes you might have some Italian olives and wine. It’s basically like a warm-up or a warm-down depending on how you look at it. You have a little to drink and chat. For me, we just chatted and had prosecco. Also, the aperitivo and the antipasto can be combined.


So, the antipasto is the appetizer. I did a simple bruschetta recipe that you can find here. You only need to toast the bread here. Also, I know many people pronounce it with a shh sound, but bruschetta is actually pronounced like brew-sketta.

Il Primo

Now we’re getting into the heart of your dinner party. Typically an Italian dinner party have a first, second, and a side dish!

Easy Italian Dinner Party- Simple Italian Cod Recipe

For il primo, I served a simple gnocchi pasta with pesto. Now, gnocchi is not too hard to make by hand. However, this is an easy Italian dinner party. So, I did buy a pack of gnocchi from the store and pesto. I know this isn’t authentic, but it is the easier option. I don’t have a favorite gnocchi brand, but I do love Rana’s pesto. A good backup pesto is Filippo Berio.

Il Secondo

Il secondo is the heaviest out of all the courses. It’s usually a meat or a fish, depending on where you live in Italy. I really like fish as I don’t eat any other meats. So, I did a simple cod recipe that you can find here.

Il Contorno

So, il contorno is the side dish. For me, I did roasted potatoes. They are possibly the easiest things to do. Just toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper and pop them in the oven. I usually set them at 375 degrees for an hour. Maybe halfway through, flip them. Towards the end, I like to sprinkle some parsley in there.

Sometimes a salad is also served. One of my favorites, and perhaps the easiest salad is the caprese (cuh-praise-say) salad.

Formaggio E Frutta

Formaggio and frutta are pretty easy. It’s cheese and fruit! Opt for some Italian cheeses like fontina or asiago. I paired it with green grapes.


Now, this is my favorite! If you’ve been reading my Blogmas posts, you know that I am a huge lover of sweets! You cannot go wrong with tiramisu so, that’s what we had! I got mine from Harris Teeter and it was one of the best I’ve had in the United States. I loved it so much! You can also go with pannacotta! There aren’t as many Italian bakeries as there are French bakeries where I currently live. So, if you can, I would say try to go to your local Italian bakery first.


CaffeGirl In Gamba- Caffe

We are getting towards the end of the dinner party! I had a birthday while I was in Italy and my host parents gave me my own Bialetti. So, I used it to serve my guests some Lavazza espresso. I’ve had Lavazza before, but I’m not a big fan of their espresso. Their regular coffee is really tasty though!


Last but not least! This is when you have a tiny (almost like a shot glass) of a digestive. This can be limoncello or grappa. I say go with the limoncello because it tastes like a lemon drop. Grappa is too harsh for me. Also, it’s been debated by many people I know who have studied abroad in Italy. Some of us have said that you take a shot of it and some say that you sip it. I think I’m more inclined to believe that you sip it.

I accidentally served the digestivo after the caffe. However, I’m fairly certain it’s the other way around. If you’re looking for a more in-depth look at the different course, this article is one of the best that explains it all.

So, I hope this easy Italian dinner party will help you! Make sure you read this post before hosting your party. You can download my grocery list and my menu below! Also, you can follow Girl In Gamba on FacebookInstagramTwitterPinterest, and Bloglovin!

(Click to download)


Question of the day: What would you serve for an easy Italian dinner party?

Check out all of my Blogmas posts by clicking here!

All photos are mine, Girl In Gamba

    1. Oh yay! I used some parmesan in my bruschetta but it would totally still taste good without it! I can’t remember if my gnocchi is vegan as well (there might be cheese in the pesto) but that would be a good one too!

  1. Dolce sounds great to me! Love the pictures, they’re gorgeous. Overall, this post made me want to try being Martha Stewart for a day, despite the fact that my last dinner party ended with me on the floor in tears because I didn’t realize how much work cooking for so many people is.

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