Italian Appetizers, Anyone?

Kathryn for
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel

Last week on the Conversational Italian! Facebook group, we talked about what appetizers, or “antipasto” we like to serve for Easter and other holidays.

Antipasto simply means “before the meal” in Italian and refers to small dishes served before “Il Primo” or “the first course” of pasta, an Italian rice dish of risotto, or  Italian potato dumplings called gnocchi.

Below is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers © 2012 by Stella Lucente, LLC, which lists our favorite “antipasti” served in Italy.

Notice, by the way, the pronunciation of a very common Italian appetizer served here in America— bruschetta slices of toasted bread with various toppings, most commonly tomato and basil. The Italians pronounce it very differently than most Americans! What is your family’s favorite antipasto dish? Write and let us know!

If you want to read more about this topic, the textbook is available for delivery from Learn Travel The rights to purchase the book in PDF format on two electronic devices can also be purchased at Learn Travel



il pane bread
una fetta
di pane
slice of bread
la bruschetta toasted bread slices rubbed with garlic; can be topped with chopped tomatoes or chopped liver, and so on. (It’s pronounced br/oo/ske/ta because “che” is pronounced like the English word “key.”)
l’olio (d’oliva) olive oil
l’aceto vinegar (balsamic; aged vinegar from Modena/red wine vinegar)
l’antipasto misto assorted appetizers
l’insalata verde/mista mixed lettuce greens and vegetables
i calamari fritti fried squid
la panzanella tomato and bread salad, usually made with leftover bread cubes
la caprese  fresh tomato slices, basil, and mozzarella sprinkled with salt and drizzled with olive oil (from Capri)
le olive olives
le verdure (sottaceto) assorted vegetables (pickled)
i peperoni (sottaceto) peppers (pickled)
i funghi (sottaceto) mushrooms (pickled)
i carciofi (sott’olio) artichoke hearts (preserved in olive oil)
la caponata Sicilian eggplant and olive appetizer, cooked and then served cold
le acciughe anchovies
la bagna cauda warm olive oil, garlic, and anchovy dip for fresh or boiled vegetables, from the Piedmont region of Northern Italy
le sardine sardines
la mortadella  special type of bologna, from the city of Bologna
il salame
i salumi
salami—a variety of dried/smoke-cured meats that vary by region
il fritto misto assorted batter-fried vegetables, assorted fish and seafood, or a combination of both vegetables and seafood
il prosciutto special air-dried/cured ham from the city of Parma
e melone
special cured ham served on top of a cantaloupe slice, often drizzled with balsamic vinegar
lo speck special smoked ham from the region of Tyrol in Austria
il formaggio cheese—made from cow, sheep, or goat milk in Italy (See Chapter 18 of Conversational Italian for Travelers for a chart of the most common Italian cheeses and their region of origin.)


Learn Conversational Italian for Travelers
Conversational Italian for Travelers Textbook

Available on www.Learn Travel


7 thoughts on “Italian Appetizers, Anyone?

  1. I think Italian Storytellers is correct, I’m from the north of Italy and I can’t recall anyone ever calling it “insalata caprese”. That said, everyone will know what you mean either way.

    Just to add, I so miss la mortadella! It doesn’t exist where I currently live. If anyone is planning a trip to Italy anytime soon, try some!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Grazie for your reply! It is too bad you don’t have an Italian deli near you. Mortadella is one of my favorite lunch meats that I had growing up in NY and near the Italian section in Brooklyn. I missed it for years living around the country, but now I am lucky enough that in the Chicago area we have Eataly and Caputo’s grocery stores where they can import directly from Italy. Eataly is also in NYC.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I have to say that right now I can’t recall, but probably up north of Rome. “Insalata mista” is more common up north, I’m sure. I’ve had 3 Italian editors review my books, so I guess they missed this or maybe somewhere up north in Italy they don’t quite say it the same as in the south. Thank you again for your comment. I will double check this as I will be in Sicily this summer if all goes well.


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