January 14, 2020

Antipasto or Antipasti? The Making of an Italian Tradition

At Grico’s, we love an Italian flare in our menu. In fact, we dedicated an entire catering menu to the Italian classic antipasto. But what’s the meaning of antipasto and what can you expect to find in this dish?

The Origin of Antipasto

If you’re wondering about the meaning of antipasto, it means “before the meal.”  Typically, this dish would be served on special occasions or during the holidays. According to Food Republic, “In rural Italy years ago every family had a pig, which was killed each year so that different cuts of cured meat would be available in the larder (pantry). The family also made numerous jars of preserved vegetables and their own cheese. All this produce would be carefully assembled to be enjoyed as an antipasto or starter.”

The word “antipasto” was first used in the 16th century. This Italian dish was quite similar to the French hors d’oeuvres and Spanish tapas, where small bites were served at the start of the meal. It was meant to only stimulate the appetite and not fill the stomach. 

Back then, meals included several courses and wines, and went on for hours. And even though the food wasn’t always extravagant, it was always relished by diners. 

Antipasto vs. Antipasti?

Technically, both are correct. Antipasto is the singular form of the word while antipasti refers to the plural form. But what about antipasta? Antipasta is a colloquialism for “antipasto,” a mistranslation of “before the pasta.”

So if you’re sitting down for a traditional Italian meal, stick with antipasto.

How to Make an Antipasto Platter

The “antipasto vs. antipasti” discussion may never end, but the beauty of an antipasto is that it can be whatever you have available or enjoy eating. Common menu items you may be presented include but are not limited to:

  • Sliced deli meats such as salami, spicy capicola, prosciutto, mortadella, and bresaola
  • Cheese assortment
  • Olives
  • Roasted peppers
  • Bread

Antipasto is served on a platter or mixed together depending on the family recipe. 

Serving Antipasto

After understanding the meaning of antipasto and the antipasto vs. antipasti debate, let’s find out how it is served. 

Antipasto is typically served at room temperature and includes a variety of flavors, textures, and colors that appeal to the various senses and get you excited for the main course. The platter consists of meats and seafood, cheeses of various textures, and several marinated and pickled vegetables. 

Meats and Seafood

Antipasto platters are incomplete without cold cuts of meat. In the old days, meats were cut and cured during the cold months and preserved through the warm months. Traditional Italian cured meats that are regularly featured in platters include prosciutto, pancetta, salsiccia, and so on. Italian sausages are also served in modern American restaurants, where pepperoni and salami are commonly eaten. 

Cold cuts are served with crusty bread. Sardines, anchovies, and smoked salmon are usually served with marinated onions and capers, along with shrimp, mussels, and calamari. If yours is a traditional platter, you might find crudo, thin slices of raw meat, on it. Further, crostini or toasted bread is accompanied with pâté. 

Cheeses

Your platter will have fruits, tomatoes, crackers, and honey, which are served with a variety of cheeses, such as hard cheeses like Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Asiago, along with semi-soft and soft cheeses such as Gorgonzola, mozzarella, and Taleggio. These cheeses add a dash of much-needed saltiness to balance the sweetness of the fruits and honey. 

Vegetables

Marinated and pickled vegetables can work wonders in adding some tanginess to the antipasto platter! Some of these include marinated artichoke hearts, eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini, roasted bell peppers, olives, and pickled pepperoncini, along with giardiniera, consisting of a mix of pickled onions, carrots, zucchini, and celery stored in red or white wine vinegar The ideal bread to go with this is bruschetta.   

What Can You Expect from Grico’s Antipasto?

Good antipasto dishes boast a range of simple and flavorsome appetizers, making for some interesting textures, colors, and tastes. As an appetizer, it is supposed to be light on the palate and easy to digest. The burst of the various flavors on an antipasto platter creates a wholesome flavor that regales your tastebuds. The sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami flavors work extremely well together.

The appetizer menu at Grico’s includes items such as:

  • Meats: prosciutto, soprasetta, lonza, salami, mortadella, and pepperoni
  • Cheese: grana padano, brie, blue, humboldt fog, d’affinois, camembert, and aged provolone
  • Italian Specialities: pepper shooters, roasted peppers, assorted olives, pepperoncini, Italian sausage, grape tomato and mozzarella basil shooters, cantaloupe gazpacho shooters, and bruschetta
  • Salads: green bean with balsamic, Tuscan bean, quinoa tabbouleh, hummus and tzatziki with pita, marinated mushrooms, and fresh mozzarella salad
  • Seafood: smoked or poached salmon, and green lip mussels
  • *When you book an antipasto appetizer catering station from Grico’s, you’ll receive 15 loaves of assorted round peasant-style bread or baguettes.

Serve Up Grico’s Style!

Take this Italian classic and incorporate it into your next special event! Contact our catering coordinator, Allison, to discuss details. Email her at afriedman@gricosrestaurant.com or call her at 570-690-3339.

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