Italian Dinner Party Menu

We’re kicking off a new feature here on WGC today! Dinner party menus along with a prep schedule for the day of so you can host and entertain with zero stress!! First up: let’s go to Italy with an Italian Dinner Party Menu!

Seafood Pasta from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

I think it’s safe to say that 2020 is going to be the year of small intimate dinner parties in our backyards. Whether that’s just you and a friend, your partner or spouse, your family or a few close friends, it’s all about entertaining at home right now. As someone who LIVED for a large dinner party back in my private chef days, (nothing gave me a rush like doing a 40 person dinner with 3 hours notice!) putting together a small backyard affair is hands down my fav.

Classic Aperol Spritz from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

This Italian Dinner Party Menu is stress free, easy to prep ahead and a major crowd pleaser! There’s also a swap for the main course if you’re feeding anyone who doesn’t love fish! So let’s talk menu first and then we’ll get into the schedule!

Butter Lettuce Salad from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

Italian Dinner Party Menu:

Not too complicated right? But still super impressive, colorful and beyond delicious. We did this a few weeks back and it was a smashing success. Here’s how I put it all together so I didn’t have to be cooking once we had a few friends over….

Peach Tomato Caprese for the Italian Dinner Party Menu from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

Morning of (sometime between 9am – 11am)

  • Make sure you’re stocked when it comes to the drink station. Aperol does not need to be chilled so it can live on the counter. Make sure you have plenty of sparkling water and sparkling wine chilled in the fridge so people can DIY their own drinks once they arrive.
  • Prep both the salad (minus the avocado) and the salad dressing. The salad can be covered with a damp paper towel and stored in the fridge until dinner. The dressing can be left at room temperature on the counter.
Melon and Prosciutto Salad for the Italian Dinner Party Menu from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

Afternoon of (sometime between 1pm – 3pm)

  • Prep the melon and prosciutto and arrange on a serving platter. Cover with a damp paper towel and place in the fridge until it’s time to eat.
  • Prep the Peach Caprese and arrange on a serving platter. Cover with a damp paper towel and place in the fridge until it’s time to eat.
  • Prep the Cobbler all the way up until baking. Let hang on the counter.
  • Prep the pasta through adding the wine. Once the wine is boiled and simmered, turn off the heat and cover with a lid. Let sit on the stove NOT on heat until dinner.
  • Make sure the rest of the seafood is prepped, clams and mussels are scrubbed, and shrimp and scallops are cleaned.
Peach Blackberry Skillet Cobbler for the Italian Dinner Party Menu from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

Right before guests arrive:

  • Put out an ice bucket with the sparkling wine and the sparkling water next to some glasses and the bottle of Aperol.
  • Remove the melon and prosciutto from the fridge and put on the table where you’re serving appetizers, ditch the damp paper towel.
  • Remove the Peach Caprese from the fridge and put on the table where you’re serving appetizers, ditch the damp paper towel.
  • Put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta, and cover with a lid so the water doesn’t all evaporate.

Before you sit down for dinner:

  • Add the avocado to the salad and toss with the vinaigrette.
  • Take a few minutes in the kitchen while your guests are finishing the appetizers to finish the seafood sauce for the pasta. While that’s cooking, cook off the pasta in the boiling water and then finish assembling the dish.
  • Pop the cobbler into the oven and let bake while you sit down and enjoy dinner.

All that’s left is to enjoy your party and then do the dishes later after everyone leaves! Happy hosting!

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20 comments

  1. Andrea

    I love this idea! So great to have this in one place and an idea on timing/prep instead of running around like a crazy person day of.

  2. Karen Catlett

    I’m so excited for this new addition! I love to entertain guests and having dinner parties! Thank you! Can’t wait to see what all you come up with!

  3. Cynthia True

    This is amazing! You are my “GO TO “for recipes and now menu’s. I have bought your cookbook and I just love it. I feel like we would be friends! ha
    Thank you!

  4. Vikki

    I love this menu with schedule attached! This should be your next cookbook theme!!

  5. Monika

    What a great idea to break down the prep work prior to the party. I love it!

  6. Liz

    Love this format! Love, love. Can’t wait to see all of the menus you have in store.

  7. Marielle

    So GREAT!! I feel like I am always running around and am sure to forget something! Thanks for doing this!!

  8. Paula

    Thank you so very much Gaby and Thomas for always thinking of New and exciting ways to make cooking and entertaining fun and original. Themed parties with menus featuring everything you need from starters to dessert is fantastic!

  9. Jennifer

    This is such great info for an apprehensive hostess like myself. Thanks.

  10. Wendy A

    Thank you so much Gaby!!! I have been wanting and was even tempted to make a dinner party cookbook. I always get anxious over what to make and then run crazy trying to put it together. Your tips are very helpful and recipes so do able.

    Now we just have to find some quarantined safe guests and a 5 minute covid test for the entry way . Sangria flavored hand sanitizer would be great also. Can’t wait todo these dinner parties.

  11. Morgan

    Done and done! Spectacular menu! Everyone loved it and I felt like the hostess with the most-est!

  12. Gina

    LOVE THE IDEA OF THESE POSTS SO MUCH! My biggest anxiety is planning out the night/day for prep. Cannot wait for more of these!