Ciao! October is Italy month here at Kind Of Going Places and in true KOGP form, we’re putting together a recipe for how you can have the perfect Italian themed date night at home.
We absolutely love Italy, and have each been fortunate enough to visit the beautiful country (not together yet, we need to fix that). And while I may be biased (as I am an Italian girl), we think Italy is one of the most romantic and beautiful countries in the world. So we wanted to create a unique, authentic Italian date night experience that’s more than just the traditional pasta and pizza (which don’t get us wrong, we sure do love). Italian culture is best summed up as great food, great music, and great company. So let’s get to it!
Set the Scene
I grew up with classic Italian music playing loudly at all our family gatherings, but even for those who didn’t, it’s hard not to imagine Italy without their iconic beautiful music. We’ve put together a playlist for you to start your journey to the world of romance, herbs and some of the best sauces you will ever have.
Decor and Attire
The colors of the Italian flag are red, green and red, which is seen a lot in Italian decor. However other more common colors are earth tones, bricks, natural colorings of the earth are found across Italian households. Many Italians decorate with fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices from their gardens. The classic red checkered pattern is seen at many Italian restaurants. The Cornicello (Italian horn) is a symbol of fertility and believed to ward off evil spirits (the “evil eye”).
Fashion in Italy is beautiful. Women frequently wear beautiful dresses that are flattering to their bodies, often on the longer side, both of patterns and simplicity. Beautiful scarves are a common fashion accessory. Men often wear hats (fedoras), slacks and loafers.
Craft Your Menu for 2
Italian cuisine is some of the very best in the world and it’s easy to understand why. From fresh ingredients to the wonderful comforting smells, Italian food is always a hit. Here are some great menu ideas to try that are outside the traditional spaghetti and meatballs. Below, we’ve outlined a traditional full Italian meal, but we won’t blame you if you don’t include every course, we get it, it’s a lot of food, but boy is it delicious. Mangia!
Aperitivo – The pre-meal drink
In Italian customs (and many others), it’s common to have a pre-meal drink to help open the stomach for the meal. We’ve selected a Bellini to cheers with your date (cin cin!, or Salute!)
- Cocktail: Forget mimosas, Bellinis are where it’s at! We found you a great recipe from Love and Lemons to try.
- Mocktail: For those looking for a non-alcoholic experience, give this one from Mocktail.net a try.
Antipasti – The appetizers
A common antipasti in Italy is a combination of colorful meats and cheeses that are intended to welcome guests to the table, get conversations started, and prepare you for the upcoming meal.
- This recipe from Ciao Florentina will have you creating an authentic antipasti in no time.
Primi – Pasta Time!
It’s true. Italians love pasta. So much so that it’s part of most Italian dinners each night. Primi is not an appetizer. Typically the primi, or pasta dish, is served separate from the main meal, but is still included as the main meal. It can also be soup or pastini, but pasta is common.
- While we love red sauce dishes as much as the next person, we instead opted for one of my favorite pasta dishes, orecchiette in pesto. Check out this recipe from ThePlantBasedSchool to give it a try of your own.
Secondi – Main Course
We hope you’re not full yet because it’s time for the main course!
- If you’re looking for something a little different to try, check out this veal marsala recipe from MemoriediAngelina
- If veal is not for you (we get it), check out something a little more classic like this chicken marsala recipe from BillyParisi
Contorni – Sides
There’s a reason why my Nonna would constantly tell me to eat when I was growing up, we Italians don’t like to see anyone hungry, so we always make sure there’s enough food. Which is why even after the antipasto and pasta and main courses, there’s still plenty of side dishes to go around.
- One of the most common sides we had growing up was Italian green beans, and you can find a similar recipe here from SimplyWhisked.com.
Insalata – In Italy, salads are typically eaten after the meal.
Salad is considered to aid digestion which is why in many Italian households, it is eaten after the meal. These salads are always light, filled with greens and tomatoes, and very colorful.
- My personal favorite is caprese salad, and you can find a great recipe from RecipesFromItaly here.
Formaggi E Frutta – Cheese and Fruit
Another great palette cleanser, it’s custom to start winding down the meal with fruits and cheeses. More cheese you may ask? Yes. More cheese. There’s never enough cheese.
- Ilvillaggiocheese provides a great breakdown of great cheese and fruit pairings to check out.
Dolce – Save room for dessert!
This one was an easy choice for us, the classic tiramisu.
- We’re going to try this recipe from TastesBetterFromScratch
Caffe – Espresso and Biscotti
One of my favorite memories growing up was the moment one of my aunts would stand up and ask the infamous question, “Who wants espresso?”, and all the hands would go up. There’s something wonderful about the smell of espresso wafting from the kitchen after enjoying a large meal and continuing the conversation as we digest and fight off food comas. A lot of times espresso is paired with a small cookie, typically biscotti. So we’ll set you up for both.
- FortheFeast.com guides you through preparing your first cup of perfect Espresso. Note that you need a special Espresso moka pot for this. If that’s not your style, don’t fret. KCups exist that handle the work for you.
- Biscotti is a classic and sometimes comical addition to the espresso. These little cookies are notably HARD to eat. This is because they are a dunking cookie in your espresso or tea. We found a great recipe we’ve fallen in love with.
Digestivo – The after dinner drink
These after dinner cordials are intended to aid digestion after a heavy meal. Simply sip and enjoy. We opted for the classic Limoncello.
- Don’t feel like buying a whole bottle? Don’t worry, RecipesFromItaly walks you through making your own Limoncello at home.
- We even found you a non-alcoholic Limoncello recipe from TheGraciousPantry
Fun and Entertainment
- The Godfather (Parts 1 & 2 – in our opinion,
- Luca (this Disney Pixar film is absolutely adorable)
- Cinema Paradiso
- La Dolce Viita
- Marriage Italian Style
- Scopa – this Italian card game is a family favorite
- Futbol or FIFA – Italians LOVE soccer
- Morra – a hand game that is thousands of years old. The rules are simple, at the same time each player reveals their hands extending any number of fingers, and shouts out a number. The player who guesses the total number of fingers revealed by all players combined scores a point.
We hope these tips help you create your own unique Italian themed date night at home, and if you do, let us know what you created and how it went! We’d love to hear from you!
And if you’re looking for other great unique dates to try, check out our Ethiopian themed date night.