How to Host An Italian Aperitivo at Home

March 28th, 2008 · Tags: Culture · Discovering Food · Food · Italy · Tips

Continuing in the The Guide to Italian Aperitivo, today I’m talking about How to Host An Aperitivo Italiano at Home:

You don’t need to be in Italy to enjoy an aperitivo, though. You can host your own Aperitivo Italiano at home with friends!

Aperitivo in Venice

Part 2 of The Guide to Italian Aperitivo and Drinks in Italy – How to Host An Italian Aperitivo at Home:

  • Setting the Aperitivo Mood with Music
  • Planning Your Aperitivo Italiano at Home Menu
  • Warm and Cool Weather Aperitivo Menus
  • Anytime Menu Items

Can’t come to Italy? Host your own aperitivo at home. I wrote about my summer aperitivo I hosted at home and having an aperitivo at home is easier than you think and lots of fun. It can also be a great potluck event, but is easy enough to do on your own. If you are doing a potluck, remind everyone that the food brought should be light in your stomach and easy to eat if standing.

Setting the Aperitivo Mood with Music

For me the essential part of aperitivo is mood music. Turn your house into a cool lounge bar with the right CDs to set the mood!

You don’t need to listen to Italian music to feel like you’re having aperitivo in Italy. Every bar in Italy has their own preferences but the important part is to choose music that encourages conversation and doesn’t interfere with it. If you’re interested in trying some Italian music, you can always my Italian Music recommendations for a good starting point.

Here’s a quick list that I would recommend for any aperitivo at home:

Alternatively you could tune into an online radio station like Last.fm, listen to my ElectroLounge station on Jango.com, or I recommend also buying Downloadable MP3s from Amazon (no DRM)!

Planning Your Aperitivo at Home Menu

Aperitivo is a great excuse to break out all the fun serving plates and drink glasses you’ve been hoarding. Mix, match, be creative! I totally support disposable paper plates if you’re expecting a big crowd, but make sure they are sturdy enough to be loaded with all the fabulous food you’re going to serve!

Drinks:

Aperitif recipes for all the drinks I mentioned in The Guide to Italian Aperitivo and Drinks in Italy are available the International Bartender’s Association’s page on Pre-Dinner Cocktails.

You will want to have a nice selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks on-hand for your guests and should provide a variety of the following:

- Prosecco
- Wine (encourage your guests to bring you something new)
- Sweet wine like Asti Spumante, Brachetto or Fragolino
- Campari
- Aperol
- Cinzano
- Martini Vermouth
- Gin
- Vodka
- Soda Water
- Coca Cola and other Soft Drinks
- Pineapple and Orange Juice
- Lemon and Orange slices

Your Aperitivo Italiano Menu: the Food

Aperitivo is the only time I’ve ever seen Italians mix so many different foods together on one plate! In my opinion it’s more important to have many (smaller) dishes that are varied, even if each guest only gets a little taste. This way you’re sure to make something everyone likes and it will leave them wanting more – in the form of dinner later!

Here are some items that require very little planning or preparation and are great year-round.

- Italian green and black Olives
- Potato chips
- Caprese salad with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella
- Italian sandwich meats (salami, prosciutto, mortadella, bresaola)
- Italian cheese (parmigiano, grana padano, provolone, ricotta, taleggio)
- Grilled vegetables like eggplant and zucchini

Here is some visual inspiration from my own archives, and then my fellow bloggers are going to supply you with some delicious aperitivo recipes for your aperitivo at home!

Eggplant Parmesan Stacks Garlic Stuffed Mushrooms Robiola and Chive - Walnut PestoFresh Lemon Pasta with Spring Peas and Mint

Pickled Eggplant under Oil - Melanzane Sott'OlioFresh pesto pastaSpring Frittata with Peas, Leeks and Zucchini RecipePumpkin, Pancetta, Parmigiano and Pine Nut Savoury Tart Close-up

Warm Weather: Spring/Summertime Aperitivo Menus

Here are some recipes that are light and use in-season ingredients. With the heat around, you don’t want your aperitivo to send your guests into a food comatose or make them sweat while eating. Keep things fresh, cool and light and avoid your oven as much as possible when preparing.

Fall-Wintertime Aperitivo Menu Items

In cold weather, you want to offer items that are going to fill up your guests and “stick to their ribs.” Offer hot pastas, steamy risotto, and polenta to warm up your chilled guests.

Anytime Menu Items

These are good additions to an aperitivo menu anytime!

Hummus everywhere

While hummus is not Italian or traditionally found at aperitivo, I’ve made it for Italians from Tuscany to Lombardy to Rome and it’s always been a hit. I think it’s an excellent addition to your feast and versatile in hot or cool weather.

Next: Coming to Milan, the Aperitivo Capital of Italy? I’ll give you some suggestions!

About these ads

9 Comments

9 responses so far ↓

Comments on older posts are closed automatically

  • 1
    Kalyn // Mar 28, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    What a great series! It would truly be a great party if you had these delicious drinks and dishes.

  • 2
    nyc/caribbean ragazza // Mar 28, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    Okay how long did it take you to write this post and link to all these great recipes? This is fantastic. My apartment in Rome will be the size of a closet so not sure if I will be hosting anything anytime soon.

  • 3
    Jeni // Mar 28, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    I’ve been away for far too long – apologies.

    As always, you post the most amazingly thorough and well-researched posts!!! This is terrific. Brava!

  • 4
    Bellini Valli // Mar 29, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    I think I would have to be somewhere in Italy to really, truly enjoy an aperitivo…wink…wink…somewhre on the Amalfi Coast or in Naples:D This is an incredibly well thought out post. Thanks for all the delicious idieas and tips:D

  • 5
    Susan in Italy // Apr 1, 2008 at 10:33 am

    This is such a great and informative post! An encyclopedia of the aperitivo. Thanks!

  • 6
    JennDZ_The LeftoverQueen // Apr 1, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    This is great! After your first post, last week , I told Roberto I want to host one once a month – and even if it is just us, then I am fine with that! LOL!

    But anyway, I think it is a really fun tradition to bring into your life – to spend quality, relaxed time with friends and or family.

    Great stuff Sara! :)

  • 7
    Beatriz // Apr 4, 2008 at 7:43 am

    Sara, I saw an article at the LA Times magazine, you might enjoy it. It is all about aperitivo coming to LA, and some recipes. I was going to include the link, but then you will never see my message!
    Is your post on where to get aperitivo in Milan coming soon? I am dying to know where to go…

  • 8
    Joe // Apr 5, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    I love it Sara! Bologna has a great aperitivo scene as well. It’s amazing how you can fit in a full meal afterwards with primi e secondi! It’s a little warm up/ stretch for the belly. While I’m here, I’ll take a Negroni please:)

  • 9
    Yummy Yum // Oct 29, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    Nice website but you shound tell people like a really menu for like when you are at home in italy like at 10 o’clock what do they eat and so on and so on because i would like to see what italians eat every day ina menu

Leave a Comment

Note: Make sure you read my comment policy to avoid your comment being deleted. Please don't include URLs in your comment as they will get lost in the anti-spam queue, which I don't check for valid comments. If your comment never appears on my site, send me an email via using the address on my Contact page.