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Italian Food Catering Ideas For Special Events

One of the most important decisions you'll need to make when planning a special event is what food to serve your guests. If you're looking for one type of cuisine that will appeal to a crowd, you can't go wrong with Italian. The cuisine offers everything from hearty family-style lunches and dinners to delectable desserts.  

Since it offers such a wide range of food options, Italian cuisine is appropriate for any type of occasion, including kids' and adults' birthday parties, graduation and anniversary soirees, family reunions, holiday celebrations, bridal and baby showers, and wedding receptions. Italian food works for everything from casual outdoor events to fancy receptions, and everything in between.

Depending on how much time you have and your party-planning budget, you can either make the Italian dishes yourself or hire your favorite authentic restaurant to do the work for you. If you decide to go with a local Italian eatery, work with the chef to create your ideal event menu, keeping in mind any of your guest's dietary concerns and preferences. For instance, provide plenty of meatless options for the vegans and vegetarians in attendance. 

Following are a few more Italian catering ideas for special events:

1. Appetizers and Small Plates 

If you want to keep the menu light, fill it with a sampling of Italian appetizers and small plates, which guests can snack on as they mix and mingle. Include traditional favorites such as homemade meatballs in marinara sauce, and bruschetta, which will appeal to both meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. 

Tempt guests' taste buds with a selection of fried seafood—such as calamari and jumbo shrimp—served with marinara, Alfredo, or cocktail sauces, or a mix of all three. You also can't go wrong with a shrimp cocktail as a lighter, healthier option. 

Other Italian appetizer ideas include fried mozzarella sticks with marinara sauce and fried mushrooms. Fresh garden salads filled with greens, tomatoes, and peppers and topped with a homemade Italian vinaigrette will also please your guests. 

2. Pasta Bar 

Allow guests to get hands-on with their meals by setting up a pasta bar featuring a selection of authentic Italian dishes. Options include both traditional and vegetarian lasagna, cheese- and spinach-stuffed Manicotti shells, fettuccini in a creamy Alfredo sauce, spaghetti tossed with marinara sauce, and a rich and flavorful shrimp scampi. 

Round out the meal with fried chicken, Italian sausage, or even steak if you'd like. End the event on a sweet note with a gelato bar complete with sprinkles and cones for young guests. 

Contact a local Italian food restaurant to learn more.