Most Popular Antipasti, Italian Restaurant Appetizers
f you have been lucky enough to have ever visited Rome, Milan or Florence, if you go to Italian restaurants frequently or if you like everything that has to do with Italian gastronomy, you probably know the famous “antipasti”.
This appetizer is served before eating the rest of the dishes on a menu and includes dishes such as prosciutto (the cured ham of Italy) from Parma, canned vegetables marinated or in oil, olives and pickles, cheese and bread … and so on and so forth. In springtime, antipasti usually include small salads, although the most typical appetizer is always a stir-fry of gherkins, onions, peppers and bottarga, marinated in a mixture of vinegar and brine.
If you are preparing a lunch or dinner with guests soon and you want to surprise them – or if you want to know what to order the next time you go to eat at an Italian restaurant – take note of the most delicious antipasti you can’t miss. You will lick your fingers!
Carpaccio is a typical Italian dish made with very thin slices of raw meat or fish, seasoned with olive oil, salt, lemon juice and other condiments. It is usually accompanied by slices of Parmesan cheese. Originally, this exquisite dish was prepared with beef. But nowadays, veal is the real protagonist of this delicacy. Take a look also at our suggestion of octopus carpaccio recipe.
Burrata is a fresh cheese made from cow’s milk with spun paste. Spun paste cheeses are characterized by a soft consistency, little ripening and bright white color.
This cheese is typical of Puglia, southern Italy, more specifically the heel of the boot, and there is a PGI (Burrata di Andria) that protects its properties, its history and its production. Its name is due to the similarity with the “donkey”, or butter in Italian, for its texture and flavor, but not because it contains butter or is used at any time of its preparation as many people believe.
Try to prepare and taste an exquisite starter like ‘Burrata with arugula pesto and cherry tomato’, made with fresh and natural ingredients from the garden and the best burrata cheese you can find. We assure you that you will want to eat this dish over and over again!
Tartar is a dish based on raw meat or fish, finely chopped and seasoned or flavored with various ingredients among which are some sauces, spices or pickles. The truth is that it meets all the requirements to be considered an appropriate dish for a special occasion because it is very colorful and has a powerful flavor. However, far from being something complex, it is a very simple recipe and delicious to the palate.
Different variants of this dish can be made, for example, octopus tartar with citrus dressing and guacamole cream, the perfect combination for a unique, tasty and natural dish, one hundred percent nutritious and very healthy.
Another classic among the hot Italian appetizers is the focaccia, the typical star food of the Liguria region. You will find it in many of the country’s bars, where it is usually prepared in cubes. It can be served alone or stuffed with ham and fontina cheese. There is also a version with olives or tomatoes on top, like the famous focaccia Pugliese. All of them are delicious!
Eggplant parmesan or melanzane
This is also one of the star starters of Italian gastronomy. Also known as parmigiana di melanzane or melanzane alla parmigiana, it is a very popular Italian dish. It is made with layers of eggplant sliced shallow or fried and then topped with mozzarella and parmesan cheese and tomato sauce, before being baked.
It is claimed by the southern regions of Campania and Sicily, often associated with Naples. But it is common in rural Campania, Calabria and Sicily. However, there are actually several theories about the origin of the dish and some of them do not even point to its origins anywhere in the south of the country.
Be sure to try our exquisite Melanzane alla parmigiana. A delicious and carefully prepared dish that will evoke the most beautiful and special corners of Italy.
Cheese and other antipasti ingredients
Cheeses are a very common part of Italian starters and we can find a great variety: Parmegiano Reggiano, Pecorinos, Asiago, Burrata or Mozzarella. If we combine these cheeses with cold meats and vegetables we can achieve a spectacular pairing. We can see these ingredients lined up on the plate or even on top of a special Italian bread (bruschetta).
And of course bread…
Often the best Antipasti is a simple bread because the main dish is very strong and a quality bread opens the appetite perfectly. On the other hand, the bread can be combined in a perfect way with other appetizers such as cheeses and sausages and give more flavor.
So Italian appetizers can be either the set of dishes and recipes that are eaten during this delicious ritual or the drinks that accompany that meal.
Below you will find two of the most famous Italian drinks to enjoy even more this moment. Are you ready?
This is the king of Italian alcoholic aperitifs, especially in the northern part of the country.
This cocktail was born between the provinces of Padua and Venice, and has a very characteristic orange color. The spritz is composed of 2/4 of prosecco (a wine similar to cava), 1/4 of aperol (a typical Italian orange liqueur) and a dash of soda. There are those who love it and those who can’t drink it, so we suggest you try it to judge for yourself!
It is the most famous vermouth in Italy, and in fact, it is an alcoholic beverage that can be found all over the world. It is a liqueur wine originating from Turin that is characterized on the one hand by a sweet taste, and on the other hand by a taste of aromatic herbs. There are four types of Martini, but the most typical are the white Martini and the red Martini. The former, among other herbs, has a vanilla aroma, while the latter contains caramel.
During the aperitif, the Martini can be consumed neat, usually with ice cubes. Alternatively, you can try more elaborate cocktails such as the Martini Royale or the Martini dry. The Royale is made with white Martini, champagne, lime, lime juice and mint leaves. The Martini dry is made with gin and Martini Extra dry, another type of Martini with a drier taste.
If you liked the most popular Italian antipasti, you may also like these ideas of fine dining appetizers for restaurants menu.