A delicious meal is a surefire way to elevate your mood and keep your tummy full and happy. Enjoying some delectable appetisers before your main course also goes a long way in ensuring happiness. While people around the world are primarily aware of the savoury Italian dishes, not everyone knows about some of the most iconic Italian appetisers.
Italian appetisers offer a tempting array of flavours that will take your taste buds on an unforgettable culinary experience. No matter your preferences, there is always a mouthwatering option that will satisfy your cravings. Besides indulging in these palatable delicacies, you’ll get a more profound insight into the essence of Italian cuisine.
So, let’s embark on a gastronomic journey through these irresistible Italian appetisers before devouring your main course!
Crostino is one of the most famous Italian appetisers you can come across while browsing the menu of Italian restaurants. The word literally means “little toast”, which perfectly describes the appetiser. You will usually find it in the plural form “crostini” since you’ll need more than one slice of toasted bread to be satisfied.
These Italian appetisers greatly resemble garlic bread, except that they are toasted pieces of bread that come with various toppings, including cheese, vegetables, meats, and even drizzling sauces. Their taste is entirely surpassed with the final touch of flavourful herbs and a brush of olive oil for extra flavour.
These delightful Italian appetisers serve as great starters before meals. They also pair well with main courses like steak tartars or even hearty soups. More interestingly, crostini are also served in Italian bars, where people enjoy these little bites alongside their refreshing glasses of beer or even a hot cup of coffee.
2. Tuscan Truffles
Italian food has always been a holy grail for all sorts of foodies, especially those dishes that call the Tuscany region their own haven. Tuscany is known for being rich in unique culinary experience and cultural diversity, and it falls no short when it comes to flavourful Italian appetisers. This beauty of a city introduces the Tuscan truffles.
People in Italy call truffles “tartufo”, which derives from the Latin word ‘tuber”, which means lump, and it describes the literal form of this delicacy. They grow near tree roots right below the surface, and some believe they are pretty akin to potatoes. However, they are a form of fungus and bear a remarkable resemblance to mushrooms instead.
Most of Italy promotes their truffles, yet the Tuscan truffles are known to be the most coveted among them all. These Italian appetisers are known to be quite expensive, given their rarity. Besides, Italy happens to boast the truffle culture too much that several truffle festivals are hosted in Tuscany every year.
Caponata is yet another delectable delicacy that makes it to the top of these irresistible Italian appetisers you should try. It originated in Sicily and has always been known to be among the popular dishes in Sicilian cuisine. Capunata is how it’s pronounced among the Sicilians. This dish has an enticing aroma that will ignite your appetite.
Besides its tempting whiff, its vibrant colours make the dish mouthwatering. It features a delicious blend of red and purple hues. In fact, many people believe it to be the Italian version of the renowned French dish, ratatouille. Although both almost have the same fusion of vegetables, except for the zucchini, which isn’t found in the caponata.
Unlike ratatouille, caponata was not meant to only serve as a main course or even a side. But it can instead be enjoyed as a relishing salad on a hot day and still curb your hunger on its own. You can pair it well with one of your favourite meals if you prefer, and it will still be perfect. Otherwise, you can just satisfy your appetite with it as one of the delightful Italian appetisers before your main course arrives.
Although it’s deemed one of the classic Italian appetisers, many believe this delicacy has roots in ancient Rome. It has been popular around Italy since the 15th century, starting its culinary journey in Florence before making it across the whole country. Fettunta was the original name for this delightful snack before becoming the famous bruschetta.
Bruschetta derives from the Italian verb ‘bruscare”, which means ‘to toast.’ Italians use the term to describe the essence of this Italian appetiser, a piece of toasted bread. However, people around the world usually use this term to refer to the ingredients used on top of the bread so that they won’t confuse it with regular garlic bread.
This Italian appetiser features a perfectly toasted slice of bread with a nice amount of garlic rubber over it to strengthen the aroma and flavour. The final touch is sprinkling some salt on top and drizzling a generous amount of olive oil for a mouthwatering taste.
Focaccia isn’t only one of the most delectable Italian appetisers but also one of the most famous street foods people enjoy on the go. This irresistible delight has its scent filling the corners of every street, becoming a daily staple in Italian cuisine. Although it’s one of the popular Italian appetisers, it’s yet another treat that people debate over its originality, believing it first came into being in ancient Rome.
Despite its origins, it has become a well-known dish enjoyed around the Mediterranean region. Some believe it’s a different form of pizza since it actually represents flatbread drenched in several flavours. Focaccia is a flatbread seasoned with flavourful spices, aromatic herbs, and some fine drops of rich olive oil.
This dough has always been famous for its versatility. Not only is it a delectable Italian appetiser served before the main course, but it also does wonders as a side dish. You can complement your delicacy by pairing it with your favourite type of hearty soup. This freshly baked pizza-like appetiser also goes well with spiced shakshuka, a hot pot of creamy pasta, or even a tangy salad.
Spiedini is one of the classic Italian appetisers that are beloved around different parts of the world, including Kansas City. This delectable delicacy is native to the Italian region of Abruzzo, and it’s considered to be the Italian equivalent of Kabobs as it’s served on skewers. In fact, anything that is presented on a skewer earns the title of spiedini in Italy.
This delightful dish presents a variety of meats flavoured with other ingredients, rolled into a ball, and dipped in batter to stay together before they’re cooked on a skewer. Although chicken is known to be the most popular meat for this palatable Italian appetiser, you can also opt for minced beef if you prefer.
The tantalising appetiser is quite tender and bursting with flavours, thanks to the addition of mozzarella as well. It’s usually served alongside slices of bread and anchovy sauce. Although you can enjoy this delicacy on its own, it still pairs well with grilled vegetables, French fries, and even kale chips.
7. Antipasto Platter
An antipasto platter isn’t just one of the regular Italian appetisers you will see on this list. It’s a huge platter that takes you into a delectable world that brims with different colours, flavours, and textures. This mouthwatering platter takes centre stage, where people reach out to enjoy the variety of delicacies before their main course. That said, this platter could fill you up even before your meal arrives.
Antipasto is the Italian equivalent of the French’s elegant hors d’oeuvres. The most exciting part is that it includes other Italian appetisers, like crostini, and other delectable ingredients. It features creamy goodness like different kinds of cheese, crispy snacks like toasted bread slices and crackers, and different kinds of curated meats.
Those cities with proximity to the coast often include seafood in their antipasto platters to make it more appealing and succulent. Some prefer enjoying their antipasto on skewers for easier bites to chew instead of flat-out platters. Besides enjoying this culinary marvel, you can actually take it up a notch and customise your own antipasto platter for an ultimate culinary experience.
8. Carbonara Arancini
Carbonara arancini is a classic Italian appetiser that dates back to the 19th century. These little golden crispy balls are literal bombs of joy that explode in your mouth with each bite you take. We promise you will always be craving more, no matter how many you devour. Interestingly, this delicacy combines one of the most famous Italian appetisers with more Italian goodness.
Carbonara is a well-known pasta sauce typically used with spaghetti, while arancini are fried rice and cheese balls. This unique combination opts for chopped spaghetti stuffed inside the golden balls instead of the rice. Given its mouthwatering mix with creamy cheese and sauce, some believe it’s the Italian equivalent of mac and cheese bites, while others consider it a variation of croquettes.
The symphonic flavour of the sublime combination of cured meat, chopped spaghetti, and creamy guanciale sauce will leave you craving more. It’s known to be one of the famous Neapolitan street foods that people enjoy on the go on every street in Italy. Not only is it easy to grab and enjoy, but it will also elevate your taste buds to brand-new heights of ultimate joy.
So, now that you have taken a glimpse into the world of the best Italian appetisers, all that’s left to do is venture into the Italian cities and embark on a culinary journey that will satisfy your cravings. You will just learn that Italian cuisine goes beyond the traditional P’s and offers more mouthwatering starters to kickstart your appetite.