What Is Antipasto?

antipasto Credit: Happy Krissy/Flickr/CC-BY-2.0

Antipasto, which translates to appetizer, or antipasti, is the typical first course of formal Italian dinners. Whether served on individual plates or a serving platter, antipasto can contain cured meats, cheeses, pepperoncini, olives, mushrooms and vegetables dressed in oil. Depending on the region, fresh or saltwater fish may also appear.

While there is no specific recipe for antipasto, it usually includes foods that will complement the main course. The foods are plated to create a colorful and visually pleasing arrangement for guests to enjoy. In Italy, antipasto is reserved for special occasions like family reunions and weddings. Antipasto is also a regular offering in casual and formal eating establishments across Italy.