Antipasto Platter Tips – Starting Dinner Italian Style

One of my favorite ways to start an evening with friends is to serve an antipasto platter. Antipasto, when translated, means “before the meal.” A good antipasto platter is a combination of small bites of tasty food and is usually accompanied by wine. An antipasto platter is meant to stimulate your guest’s appetite before they dig into the main meal of the evening.

These 9 tips for making a fabulous antipasto platter will make sure that your next party starts off Italian tyle. #ad

This post is inspired by Gifts.com.  All opinions are mine alone.

There is not really a set recipe for an antipasto platter.  All it takes is a love of all things that taste good, a bit of creativity and a sense of style. The trick is to keep this part of the party casual and relaxed. That is the fun of an antipasto platter!

One of the things that I like most about starting the evening with an antipasto platter is that most of the work is done ahead of time. That gives me lots of time to relax and socialize with my guests before the dinner party starts.

Here are my antipasto platter tips for a great party starter.

The serving platter. This is where style comes into play. Since the food will all be served on one large platter, it is important that is appealing in looks. But, antipasto platters options truly can be very versatile with many options to server the meats, breads and cheeses. One idea is a big cutting board. This works well if the cheese has not been cut and you plan on letting the guests do this themselves or if you are going for a very rustic look. Remember that people eat with their eyes first!Cutting boards make great antipasto serving platters

Another idea is to use a large white round platter that is simple in design.  This works well if you have some color in the food options, or if you plan to serve fruit as part of the bites of food.

For my antipasto platter, I will be using a wonderful 8 – piece Vineyard wine service set from Gifts.com. This lovely set includes everything I need  to serve my antipasto platter as well as the wines that will accompany it. In addition to the glass platter, the wine service set also has 6 wine glasses.  It even has a little “meat cleaver” knife for cutting the cheese that I just love! They even personalized the platter with our name. How fun is that? What I really love about this platter is that I can load it with the antipasto food and the guests won’t see the specialized wording until later in the evening. What a fun talking point.  I know that I want to be the one who serves as the food as the Speake’s Vineyard wording starts to show!Gifts.com glass cheese plate can be personalized

The Cheeses. I like to choose a variety of cheeses that give me both different tastes, and different textures. Think both soft cheeses and firm ones.  Keep the flavor of the cheese simple, as opposed to a cheese ball which has been flavored. Since you will be serving meats and other tastes, let the cheese just compliment the other food choices. Some good cheese options for an antipasto platter are these:

  • Sharp Blue Cheese
  • Havarti cheese
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • Gorgonzola cheese
  • Dutch Edam Cheese
  • Sharp Cheddar CheeseKeep your cheese choices simple

You can either put small wedges and let the guests cut their own (perfect way to use my cute little “meat cleaver” cheese knife!) or you can cut some thick slices in advance to make it easy for your guests.  

Serving Plates.  In addition to the antipasto platter, you might want to think about having some serving plates for your guests.  My husband and I found these wonderful appetizer plates at a consignment shop when we were antique hunting one weekend. They set the mood for the part and are perfect for serving the antipasto food.Specialty appetizer platesThe Meats. Meats on an antipasto platter are most often loosely arranged.  This makes them easy to pick up. Remember, we are going for rustic and casual.  You can roll them or twist them for a bit of extra flair. Keep the slices thin, since you want to stimulate your guests’ appetites, not make them full on the main course. Some good options for the meats are these:

  • Genoa salami
  • Proscuitto
  • Mortadella
  • Sliced CoppaHave a variety of thinly sliced meats for an antipasto platter

The Veggies. Vegetables on an antipasto platter give you a chance to add color to the dish or to add some picked or preserved items.  Roasted baby bell peppers are tje perfect choice for this. They are the ideal size! Lightly toss them in extra virgin olive oil and roast at 400º for about 10 minutes to bring out their sweetness.  Some other options are:

  • Marinated artichoke hearts. (we had these for Christmas entertaining and my guests loved them.)
  • Sun dried tomatoes
  • Garlic stuffed Olives
  • Sweet pickles
  • Pickled Onions.
  • Stuffed Grape leavesAntipasto vegetables

Don’t forget to use fresh herbs. Basil, sage, and rosemary sprigs add a touch of freshness to any antipasto platter and decorate the platter as well.

Something Grilled. Who doesn’t love grilled marks on food?  I know that I do and so do my guests.   This could be a fun addition to the antipasto platter after the party stops.  Most guys love to gather around a grill with a beer while the cooking is done by the host.  Remember to keep this on the lighter side and thinly slice whatever you grill so the guests have just a taste! Some options:

  • Italian sweet sausages
  • Kielbasa
  • Grilled Veggies 
  • Small strips of steakThinly slice sausages for a nice addition to an antipasto platter

The Breads. It is nice to have something for the guests to put their food choices on.  Don’t go too heavy on the bread or you will fill them up. Here are a few options:

Thinly sliced baguettes are nice on an antipasto platterThe Extras. I like to take one last look at my platter and then see what I think it needs for color or texture.  Think about things that will break up the richness of the fruit and cheeses. Some extra things that I often add are

  • Grapes
  • Nuts
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Dried Fruit
  • Pickled giardinieraOlives and dressed tomatoes are great on an antipasto platter

The Wines.  No good antipasto platter is complete without some wines to go along with it.   Even though I have meat on my antipasto platter, I tend to favor fruitier white wines to pair with the food as well as light reds.  Then I can move to the drier, heavier reds later in the evening. My favorites are:

  • Pinot Grigio
  • Riesling
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Pinot Noir
  • Merlot
  • SangioveseKeep the wines light for an antipasto platter

Let’s see what goes on my antipasto platter.

I put together an antipasto plate for a dinner party recently.  It was a huge hit with our guests.  I tried to incorporate items from each of the groups above when I assembled it, and it came out beautifully!

Antipasto Platter with specialty meats and cheeses

This is what went on my antipasto plate:

  • Classic Water crackers
  • Roasted baby sweet peppers
  • Hard boiled egg quarters
  • Almonds, both raw, unsalted and dark chocolate coated.
  • Baby sweet tomatoes
  • Grilled Sweet Italian Sausages
  • Havarti Cheese
  • 50% reduced fat cheddar cheese
  • Smoked Gouda Cheese
  • Old Word Pancetta
  • Prosciutto stuffed with Mozzarella
  • Capocollo
  • Geneva Sausage slices
  • Blue cheese stuffed olives
  • Rosemary, Spinach leaves and Cilantro

The tastes were amazing and the special serving plates were just the right size so that my guests did not eat too much before dinner.

Antipasto served on specialty appetizer plates

In addition to my lovely wine set from Gifts.com, I was also given this amazing personalized wine beverage tub. I can’t wait for the summer weather to come so that I can have a BBQ outdoors and put this baby to good use!  It is personalized and comes with a convenient iron stand that holds the bottles at a convenient level for serving. Personalized wine cooler

5.0 from 4 reviews
Antipasto Platter
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • Classic Water crackers
  • Roasted baby sweet peppers
  • Hard boiled egg quarters
  • Almonds, both raw, unsalted and dark chocolate coated.
  • Baby sweet tomatoes
  • Grilled Sweet Italian Sausages
  • Havarti Cheese
  • 50% reduced fat cheddar cheese
  • Smoked Gouda Cheese
  • Old Word Pancetta
  • Prosciutto stuffed with Mozzarella
  • Capocollo
  • Geneva Sausage slices
  • Blue cheese stuffed olives
  • Rosemary, Spinach leaves and Cilantro
Instructions
  1. Arrange the water crackers in a ring along the outside edges of your serving platter.
  2. Place the rest of the food items in groups, nicely arranged on the platter.
  3. Serve the platter and offer guests appetizer plates and napkins for their food.
 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Please note that I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  20 comments for “Antipasto Platter Tips – Starting Dinner Italian Style

  1. Sue
    01/18/2017 at 1:52 pm

    I love a great antipasto platter and would opt to have this as a main meal rather than just a starter. I think the key to a great platter is to have a good variety of options plus colors as we eat with our eyes first. Your example looks so tempting, I can see why it was such a hit with your guests. The hardboiled eggs were a surprise to me, I had not thought to include them but they add such great color.

    • Carol
      01/18/2017 at 2:43 pm

      Thanks Sue. The eggs were a last minute addition. I like the way they look, as well. Carol

  2. 01/18/2017 at 4:59 pm

    Your antipasto platter came out perfect! I love the way you’ve presented everything in such a way that they all look so appetizing. I love the meats and the cheeses, and the almonds too. Your choice of wines would really go well with the food on this platter. I’m going to copy this the next time I host a small party at home.

    • Carol
      01/18/2017 at 8:18 pm

      Thanks Annemarie. Glad you like the way it looks. Carol

  3. 01/18/2017 at 9:31 pm

    I have never made an antipasto tray though I do love them when I go to parties and they are available as appetizers. I usually go straight for the cheese and strawberries. The almonds in it sound interesting. I guess I could make something like this. Seems pretty simple and nice to have to offer guests. Maybe I will try this.

    • Carol
      01/18/2017 at 9:37 pm

      One of the things that I like best about antipasto platters IS how easy they are to make. Seriously…about 10 minutes and you are done! Carol

  4. 01/18/2017 at 11:34 pm

    Wine and Antipasto platters! YES PLEASE!! I love making antipasto platters for our small get togethers. I really like your tips here. So many great options to hosting a great party with friends and family. Such a simple option but guests love it.

    • Carol
      01/19/2017 at 8:31 am

      Thanks Censie. It is always nice when tasty and easy go together!

  5. 01/19/2017 at 12:54 pm

    We try and entertain on a semi-regular basis, and antipasto platters are always my go to. So simple to put together, but they offer a lot of variety. I’m always looking or new tips — and yours are really helpful. Now, time to plan another reason to get my friends together! 🙂

    • Carol
      01/19/2017 at 1:12 pm

      Thanks Kristy. Glad you found the article useful. Carol

  6. 01/19/2017 at 1:51 pm

    Your antipasto platter looks incredible! I love all of the different meats and cheeses! Havarti is one of my favorite cheeses! So super creamy! I also love that you added hard-boiled eggs to the plate! They compliment meat and cheese so well! I would eat this plate up!

    • Carol
      01/19/2017 at 2:24 pm

      Thanks Echo. We love to make this as a meal sometimes instead of as a party appetizer. It makes my husband VERY happy!

  7. 01/19/2017 at 3:33 pm

    Oh wow…that platter is packed with a lot of variety – and I love smoked gouda cheese. I’ve never made one before, but seeing all of this makes me want to. I like the idea that I can be creative and finally use my cheese platter set that’s been collecting dust.

    • Carol
      01/19/2017 at 5:04 pm

      Hi Yona. The variety is what I like about the platter too. There is something for all tastes.

  8. 01/19/2017 at 7:47 pm

    Honestly, this just looks like a fabulous DINNER to me. I LOVE antipasto. With a glass of wine, too? Sign.me.up. Your serving plates are just too cute, btw! Such good tips for getting it right – I’ve seen a lot of people try to do it themselves at home and it isn’t true antipasto. I love that yours is the real deal!

    • Carol
      01/19/2017 at 10:03 pm

      Thanks Heather. Very nice comment and much appreciated. Carol

  9. 01/22/2017 at 3:55 pm

    I could do this for one of our weekend dinners too. I just love anything antipasto. My hubby will always go for it too. He is coming around and trying more things like olives. I’m trying to get him to eat artichokes. If he would eat like this all of the time I’d finally be thin.

    • Carol
      01/22/2017 at 4:35 pm

      Luckily my husband loves this sort of food so we get to eat it often. Carol

  10. rika
    01/24/2017 at 10:19 pm

    This antipasto platter looks so good! I love Italian foods! This platter consists all of my favorite things!

    • Carol
      01/24/2017 at 10:23 pm

      It was fun to put together. Those are my husband’s favorites too!

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