Antipasto actually means “before the meal”. It refers to the traditional first course of a formal Italian meal, kind of like hors d’oeuvres. There are several differences though. In proper setting, hors d’oeuvres are served off of trays while guests are still standing with drinks. Antipasto, on the other hand, is served at the table and signifies the beginning of the Italian meal. Formal Italian table settings include an antipasto plate in the center of the table and small plates for each person’s helping.
The ingredients for Antipasto may include a variety of items. The most traditional are
- bruschetta (toasted bread) upon which to stack the cheeses and meats
- cured meats (coppa, mortadella, prosciutto, smoked ham, various types of salami)
- marinated vegetables
- olive oil (used as a topping)
- peperoni (marinated small peppers)
- various cheeses (fresh mozzarella, provolone, etc.)
It doesn’t matter much which meats are served, as antipasto dishes are individualized and suited to taste. Mama’s Antipasto Salad includes:
- Artichoke hearts
- Red onion
- Green pepper
- House made balsamic vinaigrette
- Freshly baked garlic knots
While antipasto ingredients and forms varies, its main purpose remains to extend the meal. Remember that traditional Italian dining is not like the fast-paced meals we most often consume here in Phoenix. Rather, in Italy, meals are enjoyed slowly and are considered only one part of the whole dining experience. A typical Italian meal of antipasto, salad, soup, pasta, a meat dish and a light dessert, is supposed to take time.
So, make an evening of it, like the Italians do, starting with our Antipasto Salad, lingering with your friends and family at Mama Gina’s, and building those precious relationships.