What’s in a Traditional Italian Meal Structure

What’s in a Traditional Italian Meal Structure?

Traditional Italian meals usually consist of several courses that take a few hours to eat. This gives everyone time to enjoy the food and each other’s company. If you ever eat out in Italy, you’ll notice that the waiters won’t bother you again once your food is delivered. They will wait for you to call them over. Here’s a review of what’s in a traditional Italian meal structure.


In Italy, dinner is usually served late, around nine or ten in the evening. You’ll be given a small cocktail or glass of bubbly to start the meal. Common drinks include wine, prosecco, and spritz. While the family gathers and catches up after a long day, you’ll be served cheese or dips to snack on.


The next part of the meal is similar to what we would call appetizers. Antipasti are considered the start of the actual meal and are usually a bit heavier than apperativo plates. Traditional antipasti dishes might include a variety of cheeses, meats, nuts, and bread. One of the most popular antipasti in Italy is bruschetta. Which is tomatoes and olive oil on top of a piece of crunchy toast.


The Primi Piatti is the first main course of an Italian meal, typically consisting of pasta. Other common Primi dishes include lasagna, gnocchi, risotto, and soup. You don’t want to fill up too much on this course, as the next dish is usually even heavier.

Secondi Piatti

The main course, or secondi, is usually the largest part of an Italian meal. It typically consists of meat dishes like sausage, veal, steak, or lamb. In coastal towns, Italians serve seafood or fish instead.


Chefs serve the Contorni dish alongside the main course. They make a small dish usually made of vegetables, potatoes, or salad that goes well with the meat.


No Italian meal is complete without a sugary dessert to finish it off. Tiramisu, panna cotta, and gelato are all popular choices. Sometimes you can find cannolis, a type of pastry particular to some regions of Italy.


The wine is homegrown and pairs perfectly with Italian food. There is a specific wine for each dish in a traditional Italian meal.

What Makes Italian Food Special?

Italian food is some of the best in the world. Because they use high quality ingredients. Italian recipes showcase the great ingredients used rather than being complex for their sake. 

As a result, most Italian recipes only use four to eight ingredients. The focus is always on the quality of the food.

Quality ingredients + simplicity of the recipes = fantastic tasting food

Food is central to Italian family life, and Italians are passionate about good food. As a result, that’s why it’s not unusual to find families sitting down to nine-course meals. Italians use traditional methods to prepare and produce mass-produced food products.

Try Authentic Italian Cuisine Now

The Italian and Mediterranean diet is a great example of healthy eating. Italian recipes typically use olive oil instead of other types of fat.  Because chefs often make from scratch without any artificial ingredients or processed foods. If you want to get a taste of authentic Italian cuisine in the States, Food Fire + Knives can help.

With Food Fire + Knives, you can get the perfect private chef experience. We believe a night in should be fun, exciting, and delicious. Thus, that’s why we solve the course preparation and hosting problems so you can enjoy your guests. We are a premier network of private chefs and personal chefs for an in-home dining experience. Because we work with industry-leading chefs and local private chefs across the United States. If you want to experience Italian cuisine in the comfort of your home, get in touch with us to book a personal chef in New York!

Published By Kim Gandhi Kim Gandhi began cooking at 8 years old with a love of food driving her to experiment with her Hispanic and German heritage. She gained a BBA in Marketing and turned to the business world for much of her career. Her strong customer service background and her passion for great events that involve chefs, customers, and amazing food allows her to indulge in her love of cooking and enjoying what FFK chefs bring to the table.