Skip to main content

How to Throw an Easy Italian Dinner Party at Home

Outdoor Italian Dinner Party

The following post was written in partnership with Tara Berger, Stylist and Founder of One Stylish Party, an entertaining blog and online party boutique featuring designs and inspiration for entertaining in style.

Ciao, fellow foodies! Are you hungry to entertain this fall? If so, you can bring the ambiance, flavors and aromas of Italy to your own backyard by throwing an outdoor Italian dinner party for your closest friends and family!

Italian Dinner Party at Home

Let’s be honest, we’d probably all love to hop from café to restaurant to winery on an extended Italian vacation, but for most of us, it’s simply not practical! So bring the culinary adventures of Italy to you with the help of Heinen’s and a few modest, cozy décor elements.

Discover menu and atmosphere inspiration with the helpful tips below.

The Menu

The Italian food culture is all about channeling the flavors of the highest quality ingredients into the most delicious food, and that’s exactly what Heinen’s believes, too!

When it comes to the food for an outdoor Italian dinner party at home, Heinen’s has you covered! In fact, they carry a wide assortment of Italian-imported foods, such as their 24-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano and line of artisan organic pastas, in addition to Italian-inspired ingredients like pasta sauce, pizza crust and tiramisu!

It is important to keep the food flowing at an Italian dinner party, so feature multiple courses over the span of the evening including:

  • Heavy Appetizers
  • Main Entrée
  • Dessert and Coffee
Heavy Appetizers

The appetizer course of the meal should be fresh, filling and easy to nibble on while guests mingle. This particular dinner party featured a large salmon cobb board, individual mini cheese boards for each guest and slices of fresh homemade pizza.

See below for the ingredient lists for each appetizer and add and remove ingredients based on your guests preferences.

Salmon Cobb Board

  • 2-3 lb. fillet Heinen’s fresh salmon (adjust based on number of guests)
  • Soft boiled eggs
  • Red onion
  • Roasted asparagus
  • Roasted mushrooms
  • Roasted baby red potatoes
  • Toasted baguette slices
  • Garlic aioli
  • Peppadew peppers
  • Avocado
  • Tomatoes
  • Radishes
  • Feta cheese
  • Fresh herbs
Salmon Cobb Board

Mini Cheese Boards

  • Heinen’s 24-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Additional cheeses from Heinen’s specialty Italian cheese section
  • Prosciutto
  • Salami
  • Heinen’s Cheeseboard Essentials nuts and nut mixes
  • Heinen’s rosemary and thyme crisps
  • Heinen’s stuffed olives
  • Heinen’s sour cherry spread
  • Heinen’s fig spread
  • Toasted baguette slices
Mini Cheese Board

Homemade White Pizza

  • Heinen’s frozen cauliflower crust
  • Mozzarella cheese ball
  • Spinach
  • Olive oil
Homemade White Pizza

Homemade Classic Pizza

  • Papa Sal’s refrigerated pizza dough
  • Heinen’s red pizza sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese ball
  • Fresh living basil
  • Olive oil
Classic Italian Pizza
Entrée

After allowing ample time for guests to taste their way through an assortment of appetizers, it’s time for the main event – the entrée! The goal of the entrée at an Italian dinner party is to make it a familiar dish that is easy for you to serve and easy for guests to customize and enjoy.

Nothing is more Italian than pasta, so create a pasta bar with large, family-style bowls of pasta and an array of delicioius sauces and toppings for guests to serve themselves.

Pasta Bar

See below for ingredient inspiration and customize your bar according to your guests’ preferences.

Pasta Bar

  • 2-3 lbs. Heinen’s artisan organic pasta (adjust based on number of guests)
  • Olive oil
  • Red sauce
  • White (alfredo) sauce
  • Pink (vodka) sauce
  • Heinen’s fully cooked meatballs (in the Meat Department)
  • Heinen’s fresh cooked shrimp, grilled
  • Roasted broccoli
  • Heinen’s 24-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Heinen’s Kalamata olives
  • Fresh herbs
Dessert

Once everyone has enjoyed a plate (or two) of pasta from the pasta bar, it’s time to clear the table and end the night on a sweet note! You handled cooking during the first two courses, so let Heinen’s take care of the dessert with their full-size, fresh-baked tiramisu cake and/ or individual tiramisu cups!

Tiramisu Cake

Simply keep the tiramisu in the freezer until you’re ready to serve and offer a slice to everyone, or place an individual glass cup at each person’s place setting. Enjoy with a shot of espresso and your guests will truly feel like they were wined and dined at an Michelin star restaurant on the coast of Italy.

Wine

Speaking of wining and dining, it’s extremely important to keep wine glasses full during an Italian dinner party and Heinen’s has an incredible selection of Italian-imported wine to choose from.

For the perfect mix of reds and whites, offer:

  • Colosi Rosso Terre Siciliane
  • Colosi Bianco
  • Poggio Al Tesoro Bolgheri Mediterranean Red
  • Tornatore Etna Bianco

The Atmosphere and Décor

While the food was the true star of the show at this outdoor Italian dinner party, the goal was to create a welcoming and cozy setting in a backyard urban courtyard for our guests to enjoy their meal. To allow the food to remain the focal point of the party, we focused on including neutral, textured details, simple florals, potted herbs, plush blankets and lots of candlelight to bring the courtyard to life.

The table was layered with an ivory tweed table runner, rattan placemats, classic white dinner plates topped with gold-rimmed accent plates, bud vases filled with white roses and an abundance of tealights and taper candles. To add some warmth to the table setting, accent pillows and cozy blankets were added to each chair and bistro lights were hung overhead.

For the pasta station, we used classic white serving dishes and bowls placed on risers of different heights to create visual interest. Fresh herbs, tealights and hanging rattan lanterns complimented the food spread and added just enough style to complete the party décor.

Photography: Brittany Gidley Photography | Styling: One Stylish Party | Venue: Lake Affect Studios | Food, Wine and Florals: Heinen’s

One Stylish Party, Tara Berger
By Tara Berger
Tara Berger is the Stylist and Founder of One Stylish Party, an entertaining blog and online party boutique featuring designs and inspiration for entertaining in style.

This site is not optimized for your current browser (Internet Explorer 11).

Please switch to one of the following browsers for a complete viewing experience:

Chrome Logo Chrome Firefox Logo Firefox Edge Logo Edge