La Dolce Vita Italian Dinner

La Dolce Vita – the sweet life. And that’s what a night of great Italian food and wine and great company is all about.r

I did this party three years ago as a Rehearsal Dinner for friends in Palm Springs and am doing it again soon for another Rehearsal Dinner. The relaxed atmosphere is perfect for bringing together the two families and the bridal party.

But you don’t need a wedding to do Italian. It’s fabulous year ‘round!


For the next party, I’m going to park my red Vespa at the front door with a “Welcome to …….Ristorante” painted on an Italian flag on the Vespa. We’re going to make up an Italian-sounding name from the groom’s name for the restaurant.

No Vespa? Try these signs attached to a pole in the ground with a small Italian flag at the top.

This party works best -and easiest- for 30 people buffet style. I rent farm tables for the antipasto bar, the pasta and salad bar, and the self service bar.

The dinner table is one long table like this.


This is fun! The table should be a feast for the eyes, with Italian meats and cheeses, olives, marinated vegetables, and breadsticks. But just put out appetizer size plates so they get the idea!

I made these bottles for fun (you can easily get more mustaches to give one to each male). I added in my own Italian chef gnome. And the antipasto table was ready to go.


We planned a simple meal of two pastas – one with meat – and one with red sauce and one with white.

If you can’t have a two sided buffet because of space, I would repeat the backdrop of the antipasto table, only with “Mangia” (eat) on the sign


Italian red and white wines, San Pellegrino water, and, if you like, add a signature Italian cocktail like an Americano or Negroni.


I like to use burlap tablecloths to keep the rustic feeling, and then overlay red and white check runners.

For this next party, I’m going to place the square red plates, then the squared checked napkin, and a small burlap bag containing a small individual loaf of bread, tied with red and white twine and their placecards. It’s a conglomeration of these:

Down the center of the table, I like to use raw pasta, herbs, breadsticks, large Italian tomato cans and red flowers.

I get the pasta and breadsticks at the dollar store, so it’s a pretty inexpensive table decor. Don’t forget to put rosemary out. The fragrance is divine.

For dessert I usually serve Tiramisu. It’s fast and easy – and good.

As a hostess gift, I prepare cellophane bags tied with red and white twine with two biscotti in each. For the men, the card says “Ciao Bello” (goodnight, handsome) and for the women, “Ciao Bella” (goodnight, beautiful).

And that’s La Dolce Vita. It’s a fun, casual, easy take on Italian that can work for many occasions.

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