Perhaps you have gone to an Italian restaurant, saw the menu, and there were all these Italian names. It is very easy to get overwhelmed and struggle with what to order.
This is one of the reasons why some people order the same every time they eat Italian food, you don’t want to be disappointed if you pick something that you don’t know.
One thing that is always on the menu is the term “antipasti,” which in America we know it as “appetizers.”
The meaning of antipasti
The term is derived from Latin “ante” (before) and “pastus” (food).
Let’s talk about Italian traditions. Since medieval times Italians have been preceding their meals by preparing their stomach and enticing the appetite.
The traditional italian feast consists of 10 courses:
- Formaggi e fruta
But this kind of feast is reserved for festivities.
If you go to a restaurant, the antipasto (singular of antipasti) will most likely be the first course.
The dishes considered antipasto are generally colorful and have many types of food on the same plate.
The purpose of the antipasto is to get you excited for the meal, to open your appetite, and allow you to fully enjoy the following courses. It is not supposed to fill you, just to engage your senses.
Some people even love to just eat antipasti plates and enjoy a glass of wine instead of having a full meal.
Antipasti usually consist of cured meat, cheese, vegetables, seafood, and they are traditionally bite-sized.
These pieces are selected based on texture, flavor, color, and how well they complement each other.
They are also chosen depending on the following dishes, so there is harmony between flavors.
The dishes can be hot or cold, some are cooked, and some are raw.
Some people eat them on individual plates, or one big plate passed around the table to share. It can even be served as a beautiful, decadent centerpiece.
Antipasto to Italians is fundamental for digestion and prepping the stomach for foods and temperature to come, so if you really want to get the Italian experience, do not skip this course.
The history of antipasto
You can trace back the antipasto to the ancient Romans. They ate an “appetizer” which was a must to stimulate appetite and preceded their meals.
Their appetizers were usually eggs, raw vegetables, seafood, and mulsum (wine sweetened with honey).
Skip forward to Medieval Italy. Finger foods were popular. Sugared nuts and ham were usually eaten before meals for the exact same reason. To prep the stomach.
After the Medieval time, the antipasto came to life again during the renaissance. Some chefs modernized middle-aged recipes and the “finger foods” evolved as many ingredients were introduced.
Flavors of antipasto
Depending on the region in Italy, you will find different options for antipasto. These options originate from each region’s geographics and culture.
From the foot of the Apennines to the alps, bordered by the Mediterranean and Adriatic seas.
Some of the regions in Northern Italy are Piedmont, Lombardy, and Veneto.
With a bit of German influence, this region’s cuisine is characterized by its creamy and heavier foods because of their dairy-rich areas.
Northern Italy is wealthy in Fresh herbs and oil from the southern regions.
Their antipasti is made of buttery cheeses, balsamic onions and hashed mortadella.
Here is a list of some other characteristic antipasti from this region:
- fresh mozzarella and basil pesto.
- Polenta fritta.
- Fresh fennel.
- Fresh figs
- Olive tapenade
- Prosciutto di parma and mortadella.
Made up of four regions: Lazio, Marche, Tuscany, and Umbria.
Central Italy is characterized by its rich sauces, olive oil, and cheeses. Their cuisine is very colorful
Their antipasti includes:
- Burrata and roasted tomato.
- Caprese salad with prosciutto.
- Smoked salmon and fennel.
- Assorted meats and cheese.
Southern Italy antipasto
Some of the regions in Southern Italy are Abruzzo, Apulia, Basilicata, and Sicily.
Southern Italy is all about the bold flavors, the mixture of Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.
Burrata, made from mozzarella and cream. The olives of these regions are considered the best.
Some of their most famous antipasti are:
- Romano cheese.
- Castelvetrano olives.
- Ricotta salad.
- Roasted pepper bruschetta.
Being an all-Italian restaurant, we are keen on tradition, so we have a fine assortment of antipasti to get you prepared for your main dish and dessert.
You can take a look at our options right here.
Some of our favorites are Crostone Pecorino e Miele. This is a hot bread made in our wood oven with pecorino cheese and honey.
We also have a sweet spot for the classic Bufala e Prosciutto. Our bufala cheese and our prosciutto are brought straight from Italy, so their flavor never gets boring. It’s like space traveling to Italy.
Our last recommendation is the traditional Tagliere e Salumi, a mix of Prosciutto di Parma, speck, pancetta, and salami. Your popular charcuterie board.
Bufala e Prosciutto at La Piazzetta
If you are in Miami, we’d love to welcome you and enjoy the Italian experience. You can come to our location at 5143 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33137.
Or, you can always order online and receive your Italian treat at home.
Italy is waiting for you at La Piazzetta.