Classic Italian Dinner Ideas (50 Best Italian Recipes)

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A Taste of Italy – 50 Best Classic Italian Dinner Ideas – This is a true highlight of all my best Italian recipes! From something for a special occasion dinner party or just an easy dinner, this Taste of Italy – 50 Best Classic Italian Dinners will show you all the best Italian dinner ideas in one place.

And if you love seafood, you might want to know more about What to Serve with Your Flounder Recipe!

How to make: Quick Tomato Paste Pasta Sauce Recipe with Spaghetti- add the al dente pasta to the pan with the pasta sauce and stir to combine. Add fresh basil and toss. Add extra cheese and Calabrian chili paste if desired.
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Italian Appetizers

These traditional Italian dishes are a perfect way to start a hearty meal that will please your whole family and have them begging for seconds!

1. Baked Stuffed Clams – Perfectly cooked clams, brimming with a flavorful mixture of crispy breadcrumbs, oregano, fresh parsley, and aromatic garlic.

2. Italian Octopus Salad Recipe with Potatoes (Insalata Di Polpo)– The combination of flavors in this salad is beautifully balanced. The sweetness of the octopus, the earthiness of the potatoes, and the zing of the light lemon dressing create a harmonious blend that is refreshing and satisfying. 

3. Easy Fried Cheese Balls Recipe– you will love these irresistible crispy bites that melt in your mouth. There are only 3 simple ingredients in these cheesy and crispy bites, and they take 20 minutes to make!

4. No Knead Ciabatta Bread – bakery-style crusty bread ready in 4 hours from start to finish. This is one of my favorite things to serve with Italian Bread Dipping Oil.

5. Bruschetta – a staple of Italian food: garlic cloves on toasted bread topped with juicy ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil are a perfect bite.

6. Balsamic Roasted Portabello Mushrooms – delicious earthy balsamic vinegar, thyme, and garlic flavors. This is a healthy Italian recipe you will love.


Best Italian Baked Stuffed Clams on a small plate ready to eat as an appetizer.

Italian Side Dish Recipes

Italian cuisine is packed with delicious and healthy vegetable dishes that go perfectly with any pasta recipe.

7. Melanzane Grigliate (Grilled Eggplant) – tender slices of grilled eggplant is infused with the aromas of garlic, parsley, fresh basil, and extra-virgin olive oil. This is the most “no fuss” of all my easy Italian recipes.

8. Honey Glazed Carrots – A super simple dish ready in only a few minutes in the oven. Try this dish with a sprinkle of feta cheese or pine nuts for extra flavor.

9. Roasted Garlic Green Beans – fresh green beans seasoned with shallot, garlic, lemon juice + lemon zest and then roasted to perfection in olive oil

10. Baked Eggplant Slices – this is a lighter (and easier) version of the more traditional eggplant parmesan but the good news is that you’ll still get all the classic Italian flavors from the marinara sauce to the creamy ricotta.


baked eggplant slice on a plate with fork and knife.

Zuppa – Italian Soup Recipes

An easy accompaniment for your Italian night – try one of these soups to pair with your favorite popular Italian recipe!

11. Pasta e Fagioli – Only a handful of ingredients like small pasta, beans (fagioli), pancetta, and veggies come together in a flavorful broth to make such an easy Italian dinner.

12. Minestrone Soup – a classic Italian recipe that is light yet hearty, Italian vegetable soup that defines la ‘cucina povera’, a ‘poor kitchen’ meal that feeds the heart and soul. You can also make this soup in an instant pot!

13. Zuppa Toscana – crushed red peppers, diced white onion, bacon, garlic, broth, heavy cream, potatoes and kale. Indulgent but still packed with bright green nutritious kale, this soup makes for a great easy meal.

14. Simple Artichoke Soup (Zuppa Di Carciofi) – broth-based and creamy, without using cream, and still has enough pieces of the artichoke to create a little texture. The fresh herbs add an earthy balance to complement the artichokes. Add a little drizzle of olive oil at the end, and enjoy it with guests and family all year long.

15. Classic Italian Wedding Soup – nutritious and comforting. It contains my Nonna’s Italian meatballs, fresh vegetables, and acini de pepe pasta. This is an easy recipe to prep ahead of time and leave in the slow cooker all day.


Classic Italian Wedding Soup Recipe in a bowl with spoon and bread in the background.

Secondi – Classic Italian Main Dishes

Main course dishes that will make your mouth water!

16. Italian Braciole Recipe– is a cozy and comforting meal made of thinly sliced steak stuffed with Italian herbs, two kinds of cheese, prosciutto, and breadcrumbs. The beef roll is slow-cooked in red wine and a rich tomato sauce.

17. Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken –  juicy chicken breasts are filled with fresh mozzarella cheese and basil and wrapped in a gorgeous prosciutto di Parma ham layer. The pan sauce made with the drippings adds the final touch.

18. Italian Sausage and Peppers – a classic Italian recipe made into an easy dinner you can make in one pan. This sausage and bell pepper will fly off your dinner table!

19. Breaded Chicken Cutlets – Breaded chicken breast that remains tender and juicy with a crispy exterior – perfect for the base for one of the most classic Italian meals, an easy chicken parmesan. Also, try these- Baked Chicken Thighs with Italian flavors come out perfect every time- crispy skin and juicy and tender meat!

20. Pork Tenderloin – juicy pork tenderloin paired with the delicate and slightly sweet flavor of the sautéed shallots and fennel. One of my most delicious Italian dinner recipes.

21. Roasted Rack of Lamb – Tasty seared, then oven-roasted lamb topped with a mustard and pistachio crust!

22. Osso Buco – succulent braised veal shanks topped with a gremolata, a lively combination of parsley, lemon zest, and garlic.

More Italain MEAT RECIPES.

Italian Braciole recipe in slices on a serving plate
Serve family style

Italian Seafood Dishes

23. Salmon Piccata – All the flavors you love in “piccata” with a salmon twist! Traditionally, a piccata sauce is served with veal or chicken but you will love how these simple ingredients make such a flavorful light lemon sauce.

24. Insalata Di Polpo (Italian Octopus Salad) The sweetness of the octopus, the earthiness of the potatoes, and the zing of the light lemon dressing create a harmonious blend that is refreshing and satisfying. A taste of my hometown! 

25. Stuffed Flounder –  delectable seafood dish featuring tender flounder filets filled with a flavorful mixture of lump crab meat, shrimp, breadcrumbs, and fresh seasonings

26. Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass – melt-in-your-mouth, juicy, & flavorful pan-seared Chilean Sea Bass recipe is covered in a flavorful lemon butter sauce and seared to perfection

27. Baked Flounder – The flounder is mild and slightly sweet with a delicate texture and pairs well with the tangy and savory flavors of the lemon butter garlic sauce.


spatula holding the fish for an up close view. Sprinkle parsley over the top.

Pasta Dishes to Serve with a Classic Italian Dinner

No Italian feast is complete without pasta! Here you can find alternatives to the stereotypical spaghetti sauce with ground beef and switch it up with something more interesting!

28. Spaghetti alla Vongole – a mouthwatering dish that combines perfectly cooked spaghetti with tender and juicy clams. The pasta is infused with a garlicky and aromatic classic Italian sauce made with white wine and olive oil, 

29. Authentic Spaghetti Carbonara – This recipe is perfectly smooth and creamy without cream. In Italy, authentic Italian pasta carbonara means no cream. Learn to make it the authentic way with only 4 ingredients.

30. Malloreddus alla Campidanese (Sardinian Pasta with Sausage) – a traditional Sardinian pasta dish made with small, gnocchi-like pasta called malloreddus, cooked in an Italian sausage and tomato sauce. 

31. Pasta alla Gricia – a classic Roman pasta dish from the Lazio region. It’s a simple yet delicious recipe highlighting guanciale, Pecorino Romano cheese, and black pepper.

32. Orzo with Roasted Vegetables – a perfect combination of seasoned and roasted vegetables in a light lemon dressing with a sprinkle of fresh basil leaves and parmigiano shavings.

33. Mediterranean Lasagna  A very easy lasagna recipe packed with delicious Mediterranean flavors, perfectly roasted vegetables, a blend of four types of cheese, and baked until golden brown. 

34. Pasta with Black Truffle Sauce the savory flavor of truffles nestled in a velvety parmigiano cream sauce wrapped in fresh pasta is a luxurious meal you can make at home in 20 minutes.


pasta with black truffle cream sauce on a plate with a fork.

Insalata – Italian Salad Recipes

Any of these refreshing salads would make a beautiful partner to a tender steak from the grill or a hearty pasta bake.

35. Summer Panzanella Salad – traditional Tuscan dish that combines stale or toasted bread, juicy fresh tomatoes, good quality olive oil, a splash of vinegar, and fresh basil.

36. Arugula and Apple Salad  healthy and delicious apple and pistachio salad comes together quickly and is served in a beautiful parmigiano cup 

37. Salad with Pears, Walnuts, and Gorgonzola – perfect fall/winter flavors with the sweetness of pear and the tangy, sharpness of gorgonzola, and comforting flavors of the orange honey mustard vinaigrette 

38. Italian Winter Salad – fennel, orange, and pomegranate salad with hazelnuts will brighten your table this winter season

39. King Crab Salad – A must-try recipe that genuinely highlights fresh seafood and is served with a light vinaigrette. I highly suggest you double this recipe for good measure because it’s always a hit!


king crab on a plate with lettuce and cup of salad dressing

Desserts for a Classic Italian Dinner

These are some of the best traditional Italian recipes (and some of my favorites!) for a sweet treat at the end of your main course.

40. Macedonia di Frutta (Fruit Salad) – simplicity and versatility. It’s a quick and easy way to showcase the abundance of fresh fruits, creating a colorful and beautiful dessert. My Zia Rosella adds a splash of white wine to hers and makes a fruit cocktail.

41. Classic Italian Panna Cotta –  classic Italian dessert that is creamy, silky, and luxurious. I like to serve mine with an easy berry sauce, but there are so many delicious toppings to switch it up (also see my Kefir Honey Panna Cotta recipe)

42. Strawberry Tiramisu – a light, beautiful, and refreshing dessert made with fresh strawberries, whipped cream, mascarpone, a hint of orange, and ladyfingers. It is perfect for spring/summer and is super easy to make.

43. Sicilian Cannolicrunchy fried pastry shell is filled with creamy sweet ricotta filling dipped in various toppings to decorate the ends. This is a fun Italian dessert everyone will love!

6 cannoli on a laying flat on plate with pistachios and chocolate chips on the ends. pastry bag with filling in the background.

More Italian Dessert Recipes

44. Ricotta Pie – a classic, traditional recipe – often served at Easter time. This sweet pie has a creamy ricotta filling flavored with lemon zest and a hint of almond and vanilla all inside a super easy pie shell.

45. Sardinian Pardulas –  Little pastry circles stuffed with soft ricotta cheese, flavored with lemon and orange peel and saffron, then decorated with colored sprinkles or simply with powdered sugar.

46. Sbriciolata alla Crema (Italian Cream Crumb Cake) Two layers of buttery cake crumble with a velvety pastry cream filling! This is definitely a stunning dessert to keep in your recipe box.

47. Creamy Italian Hot Chocolate –  nothing says winter in Italy like a rich cup of “cioccolata calda” – hot chocolate.

Thick and creamy Italian hot chocolate with whipped cream

No matter the occasion you’re planning for this Classic Italian Dinner Ideas (47 Best Italian Recipes) post has you covered! I hope you and your family enjoy all these authentic Italian recipes as much as mine has.

Make sure to leave a ⭐️star rating on the recipe card and comment below if you make one. I love to connect with you through my recipes.

I would love for you to tag me on Instagram @cucinabyelena so I can see your delicious Italian recipes. To get more ideas, follow me on Pinterest.

What is the most popular Italian meal?

It depends on who you ask! Of course, the most widely recognized and known around the world would probably be pizza but, there is a huge variety of foods found in Italy so it’s impossible to say for certain.

How many courses are in an Italian dinner?

A ‘traditional’ Italian dinner has seven courses: apertivo (small appetizers), antipasti (starter), primi (first course), secondi (meat and seafood), contorni (sides), insalata (salad), and dolci (dessert). But, as anywhere else, most meals vary in length.

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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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