Guide to Antipasto: Italian Appetizers that Come Before the Meal

varied olives and cheeses

What is Antipasto and What Does it Include – Guide to Antipasto: Italian Appetizers that Come Before the Meal

Antipasto literally means “before the meal” and varies from province to province in Italy.  Similar to French hors d’oeuvres or Spanish tapas, antipasto is a combination of small bites of tasty food, usually accompanied by wine (see our wine basics guide) or beer and meant to stimulate the appetite before sitting for the main meal.

left to right some of our favorite antipasto items: roasted red peppers, whole milk mozzarella, tomatoes, olives, pickled eggplant, prosciutto, and good bread
Creminelli Tartufo salame

The rule of thumb for Italian anitpasto is that there are no rules.  You could probably make an Italian antipasto from some basic, yet high quality, ingredients in your fridge and pantry.  Typically, antipasto includes any combination of the following items:

Creminelli Americano and Musica salame


the salumi antipasto include Creminelli Tartufo, Musica, and Americano

Some of Our Favorite Antipasto

Our favorite types of antipasto are simple and straightforward and include:

  1. Two-three assortments of cured meats, including a Cacciatore, Capicola, and ham (usually Prosciutto di Parma)
  2. A few cheeses; usually a hard cheese like Grana Padano and a semi-soft like Caciocavallo or Scamorza. See my Guide to Southern Italian Cheese for more information.
  3. Olives
  4. Pickled vegetables or sun dried tomatoes cured in olive oil
  5. A fresh baguette or one day old bread that has been sliced thin and toasted with salt, pepper, dry oregano, and olive oil.


  1. Recipe: Homemade Roasted Peppers in Olive Oil, Basil, Garlic, and Dried Oregano

    (thanks to the A Beautiful Mosaic blog for the photo.)I view roasted peppers as the ultimate condiment; that is to say, you can include roasted peppers in your antipasto, sandwich, as a side with grilled meats, or even include…

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