The Best Seasonal Italian Foods

Although enjoyable throughout the entire year, some Italian delicacies are best served in particular seasons; especially when it comes to certain seasonal fruits and veggies. Here we’ll go over some of the Italian top seasonal ingredients as well as some key dishes you can expect to enjoy at any given time of year.


Ideal Summer Italian Foods

As the heat starts to bring on the sweat, Italians tend to eat lighter. They mostly consume fresh fruit and veggies (figs and cherries tend to be big), seafood, salads and lighter/oily pastas:

  • Panzanella: one of the most popular Italian summer dishes, panzanella is a chopped salad that includes: stale bread that is soaked in water and then squeezed dry, onion, tomatoes, lettuce, olives, salt, pepper, vinegar, and other veggies. Its exact recipe varies depending on who makes it.
  • Eggplant Parmesan: a classic Italian entree, eggplant parmesan is sliced eggplant that’s breaded and fried. It’s then served in tomato sauce on top of pasta.
  • Summer Farro Salad: farro is a grain similar to rice. Italians love to use it in a variety of dishes from entrees to salads to soups. A summer farro salad is quick and easy to make, it’s filling and it’s healthy. After all, the main ingredients are farro, cucumber, tomato, basil and vinegar. Add in a few key spices and you’ve got a delicious lunch!
  • Bruschetta: yet another staple appetizer in Italian cuisine, summertime is the best time to order bruschetta — fresh basil and tomatoes are at their peak!
  • Gelato: And lastly but certainly not least, we have gelato. Whether as a post-dinner dessert or as a midday delicacy, an ice cold gelato (s type of Italian ice cream) will refresh you on any hot summer day.


Hearty Winter Italian Foods

During chilly beginnings each year, you can expect to find comfort food — something hot, hearty and filling that’ll keep a little fat on the bones to keep warm. Soups and meaty sauces with pasta tend to dominate the winter months — here are a few of the top choices:

  • Pasta: served with a hearty Bolognese sauce and homemade meatballs
  • Gnocchi alla Romana: this dish differs from classic gnocchi dumplings because the dough is cut into thicker, larger discs, topped with cheese and creamy sauce and baked in the oven. If that doesn’t do it for you, serve it with meatballs — that’ll really get your mouth watering!
  • Panettone: this sweet bread originates in Milan and is traditionally served at Christmastime.  
  • Farro and bean soup (Zuppe di Farro): hearty, thick soups filled with ground pork, beef, beans and vegetables are very commonplace in winter Italian cuisine. This soup in particular will warm the cockles of your heart and fill your stomach with lots of bean variations and veggies.


Spring Italian Foods

Springtime is one of the most positive times of year in Italy. It’s not too hot, not too cold, flowers start to bloom, and of course, a lot of great foods are in-season. Italian spring brings with it harvests of artichokes, asparagus, fennel, peas and many many others. Seafood starts to become commonplace as the weather starts to warm. You’ll find that food becomes less hearty and heavy than those thick winter sauces and soups.

  • Vignarola: this is an Italian spring vegetable stew that’s perfect for the transition out of cold weather and into the warmth. Although recipes can vary, the key ingredients include fava beans, peas and artichokes, since they’re at their ripest at this time of year.
  • Abbacchio: this meaty delicacy has its origins in Rome. It’s a type of roast lamb often served, with potatoes, around Easter.
  • Risotto: this is another classic Italian dish. It’s rice that’s cooked in broth with a creamy consistency, often including chopped vegetables and cheese.
  • Anything with asparagus in it. Seriously. Italians love asparagus and springtime is when it becomes available.


Italian Delicacies of Fall

As the leaves start to turn and it becomes chilly outdoors, Italians turn toward vegetables that may not surprise you. Pumpkin, butternut squash, mushrooms, chestnuts, truffles, fennel, porcini, and thick soups become very commonplace.

  • Risotto: yes, risotto was already on this list. But the fact that it’s on here again speaks to the multi-faceted ways Italians create it. Pumpkin risotto is especially delicious during the fall.
  • Chicken Cacciatore: “cacciatore” translates to “hunter” in Italian. So when a food has “cacciatore” in it, it describes that dish as being prepared and served in a “hunter style”, meaning it’s served with onions, herbs, tomatoes, bell peppers and garlic.
  • Hearty soups: as the weather turns cold and the sun sets faster, Italians take comfort in increasingly heartier soups. They’re often made with the veggies described above as well as some sort of meat: chicken, veal, beef or pork.

The Origins of Pizza

Pizza is one of the most commonly liked foods in the United States. It’s such a staple food that everyone from children at birthday parties to adults in the workplace get excited at the possibility of a pizza party. In fact, there are just over 61,000 pizzerias across the country and, on average, approximately 3 BILLION pizzas are sold each year in the US.

Pizza in La Grange, IL

But as you bite into that warm, saucy, cheesy goodness, have you ever wondered about the history of pizza and how it became so universally beloved? Well, we have. So put on your reading glasses and grab a plate — we’re about to serve you a piping hot slice of history.

The Beginning

Pizza’s first form was similar to modern focaccia. While many presume that pizza originated in Italy, many cultures in the middle east and all around the Mediterranean created derivative forms of modern pizza.

Ancient Greek, Israelis, Egyptians and other cultures produced flatbread in mud ovens, added regional seasonings then topped it with olive oil, thick stews, and vegetables. It was cheap, convenient, and sustainable, making it ideal for the working class poor.

Much debate surrounds the etymology of the word “pizza.” Some argue it derives from the Greek “pitta” bread, some argue it’s origins lie in the Latin “pinsere” (“to clamp or pound”). There are many other theories, but one thing is for sure — the first documented use of the word “pizza” was in 997 AD in a Latin text found in the town of Gaeta, Italy while it was under Byzantine control.

The Road to Pizza Modernization

As time went on, the more modern forms of pizza started to take shape. Modern pizza’s origins are in the 1700s in Naples. It’s important to note that at the time, pizza was still regarded as a poor man’s food, commonly sold by street vendors and considered disgusting by high society. The working class in Naples were the ones that started adding tomatoes (a relatively new vegetable/fruit in the region), garlic, cheese and other tasty toppings, to their flatbreads.

After ages of political strife, Italy finally unified in 1861 and, according to legend, King Umberto I and Queen Margherita (does her name sound familiar yet?) visited Naples in 1889. The two grew bored with their constant diet of high-society cuisine, so requested an assortment of local food varieties.

Italian Pizza La Grange

Queen Margherita became smitten with ‘pizza mozzarella’, a flatbread topped with soft white cheese, tomatoes, olive oil and basil. This pizza eventually became known as the ‘pizza Margherita’. Her proclivity for the food is speculated to have started a pizza craze in Naples and may have helped break down classist cuisine barriers in the region. Pizza was finally commonplace in Naples.

Pizza Takes a Trip to America

Although pizza-like dishes had been a staple food for centuries in the mediterranean region, especially in Naples, it was largely unknown to the rest of the world. It’s no surprise then that the first pizzerias in the US sprouted in communities heavily concentrated with Italian immigrants. They started to put regional twists on the classic neapolitan dish which started to pique interests of the surrounding non-immigrant communities.

After World War II, Italians started to immigrate to all corners of America, bringing their cuisines with them. At the same time, American soldiers that had served in Italy became acquainted with local foods, especially pizza. Once the veterans returned home, they would still seek out local pizzerias, encouraging non-immigrants to try it. It’s stigma as an “ethnic food” quickly vanished as it integrated with the American palate. This is when modern pizza really took shape and its popularity started to boom. Eventually, the 1960s marked the era of home pizza delivery services, and the rest is history.

Pizza has always been a staple product throughout human history — from the most basic ancient forms of flatbread topped with oil and cheese, to today’s modern deep dish, thin crust, brick oven and other variations. So the next time you pick up a slice, take some joy in participating in an age-old tradition.

Closing Out the Meal: Italian Digestivi

We discussed in a recent post that in Italian culture, the meal is a well-rounded, flavorful and enjoyable community event. Food and drink constantly complement one another throughout the meal to create a more enhanced experience. Meals often begin with aperitivi, a type of pre-dinner cocktail that prepares the appetite for the (usually) multi-course meal. But after the meal, Italians also enjoy what’s called a digestivo. As you may gather just from the name, the digestivo purportedly aids in digestion as a bitter, alcoholic, post-meal drink.

The type of digestivo most common in Italy are called amari (plural for “amaro,” meaning “bitter”), a type of bitter, herbal Italian liqueur. They are made by infusing grapes with various types of natural herbs, spices, roots, bark, flowers and citrus peels. The mixture is soaked in alcohol, sugar syrup is added and then it’s aged for a period, sometimes for months, sometimes for years depending on the liqueur.

The taste is often described as medicinal, and for good reason. Amari have their roots in ancient Rome. It would be used as medicine and was said to treat various ailments including stomach aches. Eventually, Italians started sipping small amounts of amari after dinner to increase digestive efficiency and the tradition stuck. Hundreds of variations of amari exist today, but we wanted to touch on a few of the more popular ones.


This sweet liqueur comes from Sicily and is named after its original distributor, Salvatore Averna. The recipe was invented in the 1800s by Sicilian monks who thought the concoction had medicinal properties. In 1868 they gave the recipe to Averna, who started to produce it in his home and began distributing it.

Today it is made from citrus rinds, roots and herbs that are soaked in a base liquor and caramel is added afterward. Averna is thick, sweet and slightly bitter.


Originating in 1885, this particular amaro is made from 40 different herbs and flowers from around the world, the exact ingredients kept secret. Its taste is described as, “A wide range of bittersweet flavors including orange peel, coriander, and tea.” It is currently produced in Bologna, Italy.


While this amaro boasts 27 roots, herbs and spices, the full recipe is kept secret. However, the known herbs are chamomile, cinnamon, china, galanga, iris, myrrh, rhubarb, linden flowers, saffron, zedoary, and aloe ferox. Invented in 1845, this sharp and bitter liqueur was originally used as medicine to treat stomach pain and flatulence. The first taste is described as overwhelmingly bitter, but slowly starts to turn sweet as you drink it — despite having less sugar content than most other amari. It’s most commonly found in cocktails: “Hanky Panky”, “Toronto” and “Fanciulli”.


Cynar is made from 13 different plants, the main one being artichoke hearts. Interestingly, this is where it gets its name. The Latin term for artichoke is “cynara scolymus”. This unique drink is most prevalent in cocktails, especially in the German and Swiss regions, where it’s commonly mixed with orange juice. Because of its unique flavor profile, it is actually considered both an aperitivo and a digestivo. Its taste is described as bitter (of course), light and sweet with a strong herbal flavor.

There are many variations of liqueur and craft cocktail within the Italian culture that are meant to enhance your overall dining experience. If you have interest in partaking in authentic Italian cuisine, stop by or reserve a table.

Starting the Meal Off Right: Italian Aperitivi

In Italian culture, food isn’t just a way of sustaining yourself. It’s about having an experience — and sharing that experience with friends and loved ones. Italians love all-encompassing meals; their structure consists of many different courses with small portions, all consisting of their own unique flavors, utilizing drinks and other methods to enhance flavors and enrich the dining experience as a whole.

One such type of drink is referred to as “aperitivo” (plural: aperitivi) — a category of beverage that’s consumed before the meal begins. The word derives from the Latin verb “aperire”, which means “to open”. This is exactly what aperitivi do to begin the flavorful journey of an Italian meal — they stimulate the appetite.

Guide to Italian Aperitivo (Drinks)


Prosecco is an Italian sparkling white wine that originated in the small town of Prosecco, Italy, from where the grape originates. It’s served chilled and is best consumed while young — typically within 3 years of it being bottled — since it grows stale. It carries a low alcohol content and is perfect for whetting the appetite. It can also be used as a champagne replacement and is the main ingredient in spritzes and Bellini cocktails.


Categorized as a bitters, Campari is an Italian alcoholic liqueur that is made from infusing herbs and fruit with water. It has a deep red coloration and is commonly served as a cocktail: Campari and soda water, Campari with citrus juice, or as a spritz (Campari + prosecco).


Aperol is similar to Campari but it is made out of bitter orange, rhubarb, gentian, cinchona and other spices. Its origins lie in Padua, a city in northern Italy just west of Venice. Aperol has half the alcohol content of Campari, is less bitter, and is commonly served as a cocktail called Aperol Spritz.


Vermouth is a category of aromatic wine that originally comes from Turin, Italy. It was originally used as medicine during the 18th century, but quickly made its way into popular cocktails and has been a key aperitivo ever since. It’s main flavors come from botanicals — roots, spices, barks, flowers, seeds, and herbs. Today there are various types of vermouth, ranging in flavors and dryness. It’s typically a main ingredient in cocktails such as the martini, manhattan, negroni and Americano.

All of these drinks are sure to wet your whistle to help whet your appetite. The next time you’re looking to have the fully enriched Italian dining experience, aperitivi and all, reserve a table at La Buona Vita. Come experience authentic Italian cuisine in downtown La Grange.

The 4 Most Popular Vegetarian Italian Dishes

Sure, Italians love their meats — meaty lasagna and ravioli, prosciutto, steak, meatballs, chicken, various seafoods, etc. — it may sometimes feel like a carnivore’s paradise. But vegetarians aren’t at a loss when it comes to eating Italian dishes. In fact, many Italian dishes can go meatless and still be delicious. And there are even more options that are made strictly vegetarian.

Caprese Salad

Start your meal off the right way with delicious caprese salad — juicy roma tomatoes, freshly sliced mozzarella cheese, basil, cucumbers, kalamata olives, a pinch of salt and a tart balsamic vinaigrette. Your mouth is probably watering just thinking about it, and rightfully so. It’s one of the most favored appetizers at any Italian restaurant. It’s healthy, delicious and completely meatless.

Eggplant Parmigiana

A lot of people love chicken parmigiana and veal parmigiana. Well, make a variant of that by replacing the meat with eggplant for a delectable entree enjoyed by vegetarians and meat eaters alike. It’s prepared by slicing an eggplant and frying it in a pan with some oil, herbs and spices. It’s then layered with tomato sauce and either mozzarella or parmesan cheese and baked in an oven. It’s then served over pasta. This incredible entree is a favorite in Italian-American cuisine and is a more-than-worthy alternative to the meat variations.

Vegetarian Italian Dishes


These small yet dense potato dumplings can be prepared in a wide variety of ways. The word gnocchi derives from the Italian “nocca”, meaning “knuckle” — referring to the way they look. The dumplings are most commonly made from flour, egg, cheese, potato and breadcrumbs, combined with any number of spices and herbs depending on the chef’s preferences. It can be served with any number of sauces, though we like to top it with tomato basil sauce. Gnocchi is commonly served as an appetizer in Italy, although it also makes a great vegetarian entree!

Fettuccini Alfredo

This pasta dish is exactly what it sounds like — fettuccini noodles topped with creamy alfredo sauce. We previously covered fettuccini noodles in a post about popular pasta types, but they’re essentially long and flat noodles. The rich alfredo sauce is prepared by tossing the noodles with butter and parmesan cheese. As the heat melts the cheese, it mixes with the butter to coat the long, thin noodles. It’s then topped with herbs and spices — and that’s it! It’s one of the simplest, most traditional pasta variations that’s been around for centuries. If you’re vehemently against vegetarianism, you can add slices of grilled chicken to satisfy your carnivorous needs.

These aren’t the only vegetarian dishes in the Italian food repertoire, but they’re some favorites. By now you’re probably starving just thinking of these scrumptious meals — luckily, La Buona Vita makes and serves all of these dishes fresh, so come on down and bring the family. We’re itching to fulfill all your vegetarian needs and beyond!  

Cannoli, Tiramisu, Biscotti – Oh My! Italian Desserts in La Grange, IL

Are you hosting a meal or cooking for a date and looking to impress? End your dinner with any of these essential Italian desserts to add a sweet grand finale to your meal!


Originating from Sicily, these scrumptious, tubular desserts are a classic in the Italian food repertoire. They’re made of lightly fried, crispy pastry dough, used as a shell that’s rolled around a custard filling and topped with nuts, chocolate shavings, dustings powdered sugar, or all of the above! They’re served chilled so the custard retains its shape and are best eaten with coffee or an Italian dessert wine.

Italian Dessert in La Grange IL

If you’re looking for a delicious dessert that’s relatively easy to prepare, look no further. You’ll have guests saying, “leave the entree, take the cannoli.”


Literally translating to “pick me up” or “cheer me up”, this elegant staple Italian dessert is coffee-flavored, light and delicious. It’s a type of cake that’s composed of layered custard and ladyfinger biscuits that have been dipped in a strong coffee or espresso and topped with cocoa powder.

Tiramisu Italian Coffee Cake

It’s simple to make, but be sure to make it early in the day before you make dinner — tiramisu needs to chill in the refrigerator for around 6 hours before serving. It makes for a delectable sweetness after a hearty meal, bringing a satisfying close to your dinner.


Biscotti - Italian Baked GoodBiscotti are hard, sweet and dry almond-studded biscuits that are traditionally served with Vin Santo, an Italian dessert wine, into which the biscotti are dipped. However in places outside of Italy, particularly in the US, they are often served with coffee.

Fun fact: “biscotti” is actually the plural form of “biscotto”, which originates from the Latin term “biscoctus”, meaning “twice-cooked”. This is why biscotti are so hard and dry, making them perfect for dipping; they are, quite literally, baked twice. If you’re not looking for a filling dessert, biscotti are perfect — they’re light and delicious, giving a taste of post-meal sweetness to conclude a fine dining experience.


Before you continue: it’s not the same as ice cream, even though it’s very similar.

There. Now, we may proceed. Gelato is creamier, smoother and far denser than typical American ice cream. It doesn’t contain as much fat, egg yolks are not used and it’s served at a slightly warmer temperature than ice cream. It’s created in a similar way to ice cream, though it’s churned much slower to allow more air to escape, giving it the thick and dense quality.

On the hunt for additional Italian dessert ideas? Check out our dessert menu at La Buona Vita! it’ll make you want to stop in and try one today!

Popular Types of Italian Pasta and How They’re Served

Rigatoni, fettuccine, linguine, oh my! Pasta is an Italian staple food and the many different types can vary based on region. Some noodles are ideal for some sauces but not with others. Reading through a pasta menu can be confusing, and if you’re unfamiliar with Italian cuisine, you may not know what to expect when you place your order. Here we’ll highlight some of the most popular noodles so you know what you’re ordering and what to buy while shopping!


How to Cook Long Noodles

What to do with Long Noodles


  • Spaghetti – Arguably the most well known of all the pastas, spaghetti is a thin, long noodle that is best prepared with tomato-based sauces. Think spaghetti and meatballs.
  • Fettuccini – This noodle is long, but wide and flat. It’s most commonly served with hearty, thick cream sauces such as alfredo. However, it’s fairly versatile and can also pairs well with a garlic and oil sauce.
  • Linguine – Lying somewhere between fettuccine and spaghetti, linguine is long and wide. It’s not round and it’s not flat — it’s more of an oval shape in section. It’s often served with seafood and light oil-based sauces rather than hearty, thick cheese and tomato sauces.
  • Angel Hair – Angel hair pasta is a very thin, long noodle — about half the width of spaghetti. It’s best used with light and oil-based sauces, best served with seafood and sauteed vegetables.


Cooking with Shaped Noodles

How To Eat Shaped Noodles

  • Rigatoni – This pasta is tube-shaped with ridges along the side, sometimes forming a spiral pattern so they can better soak up and retain thick sauce such as pesto or thick cream sauces.
  • Lasagna – Lasagna noodles are used to create one of the most popular italian dishes ever to be beloved by a cartoon cat. The noodles are long and flat, usually about 4 inches thick. Lasagna noodles are layered between spreads of hearty meat (or vegetarian) sauce and ricotta.
  • Penne – Penne pasta is one of the most versatile noodles in the Italian inventory. It’s a tubular pasta, similar to rigatoni but smaller. But unlike rigatoni, it does not have ridges to retain thick sauces. It can be used in soups and with pasta sauces of virtually any kind.


How to Cook With Dumpling Shaped Pasta

What To Do with Dumpling Noodles

  • Ravioli – Another extremely popular Italian dish, ravioli can be either square or circular-shaped. They act like small pockets stuffed with meat and cheese, sealed and topped with any sauce.
  • Gnocchi – These hearty noodles are potato-based, small dumplings about half the size of your thumb. They can be served with any type of sauce.
  • Tortellini – Round and hearty, these noodles are usually stuffed with cheese and are served with any number of creamy, cheesy or tomato sauces. They can also be served cold with oily sauces or even in pasta salads.


These are just some of the more popular noodles within the realm of Italian cuisine. Though there are many more to explore, you’ll find all of these on Italian restaurant menus and you’ll know what to expect. And if you don’t feel like cooking tonight, stop on by and let the experts do it for you!

A Guide to Common Italian Food Pronunciation

How many times have you gone to a restaurant and had NO idea how to pronounce the menu items, feeling like a fool? You make an attempt, but the wait staff doesn’t understand, then you get confused and it’s an all-around embarrassing situation. It happens to us all at least once, but we’re here to help you avoid social faux pas with our handy-dandy guide to common italian food pronunciation. You’ll never have to feel embarrassed in front of a date again!

  • Bruschetta (broo-SKEH-tah)
  • Gnocci (nyaw-key)
  • Pasta e Fagioli (pah-stah ay fah-jolie)
  • Prosciutto (pro-SHOOT-oh)
  • Frutti di Mare (froo-tee dee mah-ray)
  • Insalata Caprese (in-sal-atah kuh-PREY-zay)
  • Parmigiana (par-MIDGE-ah-nah)
  • Minestrone (mee-neh-STRAW-nee)

These are some of the most commonly mispronounced Italian dishes. But if you’re ever ordering and still don’t know how to say what you want, just ask! Our knowledgeable wait staff will help you out and will know what you mean — they’re used to it. We’re here to help you have an enjoyable, comfortable dining experience!

Tips on Hosting a Successful Dinner Party

Have you ever been to a successful dinner party and wondered how the host is so relaxed? If you’ve ever tried hosting before, you know it can be very stressful and, depending on the crowd, you’ll feel some pressure to be successful. A lot can go wrong, but we’re here to quell any fears you may have. With these handy dandy tips, your friends will be the ones walking out wondering how you were so relaxed.

Plan, plan, plan

Any event’s success, big or small, hinges on planning. Make a timeline of when guests should arrive, when to serve the meal, dessert, and any post-party games you might have in mind. Other things to know:

  • Figure out the atmosphere you’d like. Formal or informal? Establish the guest list.
  • What will you serve? It’s normally safer to cook something you’re familiar with. Now’s not the time to go on culinary adventures into uncharted territory. Unless you’re a master chef, no one makes a dish perfectly the first time and you’re not looking to impress your guests with your lack of forethought.
  • On the day of, lay out all ingredients you need so cooking is speedy and you’ll know if you need a last-minute trip to the store.
  • Do all prep cooking and wash utensils beforehand to avoid tons of clean up later.
  • Set up a separate table with appetizers and wine/cocktails away from the kitchen so there’s no foot traffic while you’re trying to cook.
  • Pre-make dessert the day before (if possible) and refrigerate it so you don’t have to spend time in the kitchen as people converse and digest your incredible main course.
  • If you want to go the extra mile, have safe transportation readily available in the area — especially if the wine/cocktails are flowing.


Ah, the “dinner” part of the dinner party. Figure out what you’ll be serving and get the ingredients a day or two before the party. Then you’ll have to time everything out on the day of. Pre-prepare as much as possible (remember the timeline you should have already created!) A few other things to note:

successful dinner party

  • Keep in mind any dietary restrictions your guests may have, and offer options for them.
  • Start with appetizers, hors d’oeuvres and a lighter wine. This gives you a chance to start cooking the main course while your guests enjoy themselves for a half hour or so.
  • Be sure to pair a good wine with whatever entree you choose. You can see our quick and easy wine and food pairing guide for more on this.
  • If more than 5 or 6 people are attending, you can have them bring items or even appetizers so you can focus your attention on the main course.


You’ve planned the entire evening to a T and have selected your specialty as the main meal. Great! Now what about the rest of the house? Create the ideal atmosphere for your guests — welcoming and cozy.

  • Make an appropriate playlist, but don’t blast it (unless it turns into a dance party later on). You don’t want to overpower the conversation.
  • Clean up your house. No good dinner party has unfolded laundry all over the couch. Make the space tidy and pleasant.
  • Empty your trash and make sure your dishwasher and sink are ready to rock. As soon as the party is over, get the pesky dishes out of the way and wash them before bed. You’ll thank yourself later.
  • Light candles or turn on the fireplace to set a relaxed mood, if appropriate.
  • Don’t spend the entire evening in the dining room. After dinner, move dessert and coffee/drinks into the living room where people can relax on a comfy couch, socialize and play games.

Remember that the ultimate goal of your party is to relax and have fun. And the same goes for you! There’s no reason you should be stressed all night — you should enjoy yourself as well, and it’ll be easier if you plan everything ahead of time. If this all really sounds like too much and is totally out of your wheelhouse, you can always have your party catered by La Buona Vita. We’ll guarantee a delicious meal without cooking and prep on your end.

A Beginner’s Guide to Food and Wine Pairings to Impress Your Guests

How to Pair Your Food and Wine

Appetizers? Check. Entree? Check. Wine? Uhhh…

You’re finally getting around to hosting that dinner party you’ve been promising to your friends. Sure, you can cook (or call a caterer), but you have no idea what wine to serve with the meal. You want to deliver the best possible experience for your guests and know that certain wines with certain foods will mutually enhance flavors, but how do you know which ones? Don’t fret — we’re here to help. This trusty beginner’s wine/food pairing guide is guaranteed to make your guests think you’re secretly a sommelier.

Popular Red Wines

Chianti – This bold, well-rounded and flavorful wine is often served with red, tomato-based sauces. However, it also pairs well with creamy and oil-based sauces, as well as oily seafood dishes.

Zinfandel – Spicy and deep with berry flavors, this wine pairs perfectly with thick, tomato-based red sauces. But steer clear of creamy or oily sauces!


Food with Wine

Cabernet Sauvignon – This red wine is a world favorite because of its versatility with different foods. It will enhance hearty and rich meals — cuts of red meat (steaks, ribs, brisket), tomato-based red sauces, duck, and more.

Pinot Noir – Another great, versatile wine because it’s a light red. It goes well with either tomato-based, creamy, or oil-based sauces.

White Wines

Pinot Grigio – Best served with lighter seafood or creamy and oil sauces. Lemon chicken piccata, halibut and smoked salmon are all fantastic with a good pinot grigio. It can also go well with light red sauces.

Chardonnay – This is arguably one of the most favorite wines to pair with food because it has so many sub-varieties under the “chardonnay” umbrella. It works very well with a variety of dishes — mainly creamy or oily ones. Shellfish, grilled fish, vegetable pasta or risotto, creamy soups and sauces are some of the best pairings. While tomato sauces are better paired with other wines, you could get away with using a chardonnay with a very light red sauce.

Wine & Food Pairing

Sauvignon Blanc – This very light white wine is perfect with most cheeses, salads, and light seafood and shellfish. Most lighter risotto dishes, artichokes, asparagus, and green veggies will be enhanced by a sauvignon blanc’s flavor.

Wine and food pairings can get very specific depending on a wine’s region, the subsets of each wine type, etc. We’ve barely scratched the surface here, but this beginner’s guide is sure to set you on the right path toward entertaining your guests.