italian starters

Italian starters: let’s see the most typical

Antipasto is an essential part of the Italian culinary tradition. From north to south Italy boasts an infinite quantity of ingredients and recipes. There’s something for all tastes! Let’s see together which are the most typical Italian starters.

The Italian Antipasto

The Antipasto is the traditional first course during an Italian meal, usually a small portion dish. As it’s a starter, it prepares the stomach and taste buds for the rest of lunch or dinner. Its origins are ancient. Already in Roman times it was common to anticipate the main courses with the gustatio, the ancestor of the appetizers. It was more like a mixture of vegetables with sauces, but also eggs, meat or fish. The beauty of the antipasto is that it’s delicious and the choice is wide, because there is something for all tastes. Starting from those related to bread making to those containing meat. From plant-based to fish-based ones. Let’s see together which are the most typical Italian starters.


The Antipasto is probably the Italians’ favorite course

Bread-based starters: Focaccia, Bruschetta and Crostone

Among the appetizers related to bread making we find for sure Focaccia, often seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, salt and rosemary. The Focaccia from Bari is also excellent, soft and light, with cherry tomatoes and olives. Schiacciata, typical of Tuscany, is very similar to Focaccia. It differs just for a different hydration of the dough and the use of oil to brush on the flat bread when is still hot after being baked. Bruschetta is one of the most typical Italian starters. The term originates from central Italy, in particular from Lazio, Abruzzo and Tuscany. It comes from pane bruscato that means toasted bread. The most common is bruschetta topped with fresh tomatoes and oregano or basil. The Crostone, unlike bruschetta, is seasoned and then baked again so that the cheese can melt.


Tomato bruschetta is just one of the variations of bruschetta

Meat and dairy based starters: Tagliere, cured meats, cheeses

The Tagliere, litteraly the cutting board, is the tray with a mix of cured meats and cheeses. Is the highlight of Italian appetizers, not only for a dinner but also for the Aperitivo with friends. It’s a dish to share with diners and it’s also very tasty, thanks to the vast range of Italian cured meats and cheeses. On the Tagliere you cannot miss Prosciutto crudo, the cured ham, the tasty mortadella, different varieties of salami and, when in Rome, Porchetta, the roasted pork meat. As for aged cheeses, Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino are the most popular and usually accompanied by honey or compotes. Among the fresh ones, mozzarella, possibly the water-buffalo one, but also ricotta or stracchino. On the Tagliere, cured meats and cheeses must always be placed next to each other and never overlapped. From the freshest to the most seasoned, from the sweetest to the most intense.


In Italy the tagliere di montagna, mountain tagliere, is the mix of cured meats and cheeses

Vegetable-based starters: Pinzimonio, vegetables in oils, Giardiniera

In addition to the very famous Caprese, the popular salad with slices of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, there are many other vegetable appetizers. First of all Pinzimonio, (called Cazzimperio in Rome), that is raw sticks of cutted carrots, celery, fennel to dip in a seasoning made of extra vergin olive oil, salt and pepper. This dip give the name to the dish. Then the vegetables in oils. Usually eggplants, artichokes or tomatoes, preserved in jars filled with EVO oil and enriched with spices. Perfect also with Bruschetta. The Giardiniera is one of the oldest vegetable preservation techniques and a typical Piedmontese appetizer. In this case the vegetables (the more colorful the better) are preserved in wine vinegar and water, always with the addition of spices and salt.


For the typical Giardiniera it is important to use brightful vegetables and above all wine vinegar

Fish-based starters: seafood salad, fish tartare, variety of fried fish

Southern Italy is famous for fish starters. Some are cold appetizers and generally seasoned with lemon juice. Such as fish tartare or raw fish. These are very popular in Puglia or Calabria regions. Small fish, molluscs or crustaceans typical of the Mediterranean Sea are preferable. Such as octopus, squid, mackerel, amberjack, mussels, clams, sea urchins, red prawns and scampi. Seafood salad is certainly an excellent alternative to raw fish. It’s necessary to boil the different ingredients and then serve the salad with raw vegetables such as chopped carrots, celery and parsley. Less healthy than the previous ones, the fried fish antipasto is definitely a must! Its scent reminds us all of summer days spent on the beach. Squids, prawns, mixed fish and anchovies are fried in batter and served with salt and lemon juice.

fried fish

The mixed fried fish can be just with calamari or prawns