Italian Word of the Day: Antipasto (appetizer)

Italian meals are made up of several courses, the first being the antipasto, or appetizer / starter in English.

IPA: /an·ti·pà·sto/

Antipasti is a mix of light food brought before the primo (first main course) whose main purpose is to stimulate your appetite. It is composed of two words: anti and pasto with the latter meaning meal.

Mi sa che vado di antipasto e salto il primo. Non ho tanta fame oggi.

I think I’ll go with the starter and skip the main course. I’m not that hungry today.


Antipasti can be anything – it is really up to the creativity of the chef and his or her team! There are various categories such as:

  • antipasto di pesce / di mare = seafood appetiser
  • antipasto di carne = meat appetiser
  • antipasto caldo = warm appetiser
  • antipasto freddo = cold appetiser
  • antipasto vegetariani = vegetarian appetiser
  • antipasto salato = salty appetiser (usually made with puff pastry)
  • and more!

Per cominciare, vorrei l’antipasto di pesce.

To begin with, I would like the fish appetiser.


Some of the most famous Italian antipasti are:

  • Bruschetta: grilled bread rubbed with garlic, topped with olive oil and tomatoes, a classic (there are many variations too)
  • Vitello tonnato: thin slices of cold veal served with a creamy tuna sauce
  • Mousse di salmone: salmon mousse, often served on crackers or thin crusty bread
  • Arancini di riso: stuffed rice balls with mozzarella and ragù, coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried
  • Pepperoncini ripieni: stuffed chilly pepper (usually with tuna, anchovies and capers)
  • Insalata di mare: seafood salad, can be prepared in many different ways
  • Fritto misto: fried seafood
  • Affettati misti: a selection of ready-sliced meat, it can also be served after the second main course (sometimes with cheese) and before dessert
  • and many, many, many, many others!
A delicious antipasto della casa (house appetizer) in a restaurant in Gubbio, Umbria

Pensavo di preparare delle bruschette come antipasto per stasera, che dici? – Ottima idea, la bruschetta mi piace un sacco!

I was thinking of preparing some bruschettas as an appetiser for tonight, what do you think? – Excellent idea, I like bruschettas a lot.


Antipasti can be eaten before a pizza and in Piemonte, there is a special starter called the farinata, a thick pancake made with chickpea flour. You can have it with different condiments but the classic is the farinata with black pepper.

Antipasto can also be used in figurative way to refer to a preview or the beginning of something bigger to come. Another word for it is assaggio (taste).

E questo è solo l’antipasto. Il peggio deve ancora venire.

And this is just the beginning. The worse has yet to come.


Questo è solo un assaggio del suo potere. Thanos è invincibile.

This is just a taste of his power. Thanos is invincible.


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