Nine Course Italian Dinner

by Erin

What’s better than an entire day dedicated to eating? Be the ultimate host with these menu suggestions for a Nine Course Italian Dinner party.

Nine Course Italian Dinner Menu.

Months later I finally sat down to write out both menus I prepared for a nine course Italian dinner! Yes both, because I am nuts and hosted this twice, with two different menus. A sane person would have perfected the menu the second time around, but clearly that is not I.

The Breakdown of a Nine Course Italian Dinner:

  1. Aperitivo
  2. Antipasto
  3. Primo
  4. Secondo
  5. Contorno
  6. Insalata
  7. Formaggi e frutta
  8. Dolce
  9. Digestivo con caffè

I coursed it out to be about a course every hour starting at 1pm and ending around 9pm. At first I thought I was being too generous on time, but those courses start pilling up quickly and you’ll be glad of some down time! Both times the wall happened after the Secondo.

Next I will break down what comes with each course, followed by what I made for the two different menus I made. Sure, a few could/should be served together so you could argue it’s more like seven, but nine dishes/items at least.

Nine Course Italian Dinner - Aperitivo


The aperitivo is similar to an appetizer (light apps). It’s pretty casual, can occur while people trickle in, enjoying small bites of food (olives, crisps, nuts, cheese, dips, or small snacks) and drinks (wine, prosecco, spritz, vermouth, Spritz Aperol/Bianco/Rosso, gingerino). Of course these carry throughout the meal, especially wine.


Before the first main course of the meal comes the antipasto, which actually translates to “before the meal”. Antipasti can be either simple or complicated, from olives, vegetables, and cured meats, to bruschetta.

  1. Bruschette Tricolore (made with day old Italian Bread)
  2. Caprese Salad


This is the first course of the actual meal and is typically a small serving of soup, pasta, gnocchi, risotto or other non-meat dish.

  1. Goat Cheese Ricotta Gnocchi with Walnut Thyme Butter Sauce
  2. Tortellini en Brodo (with Garic Knots)


The secondo is a small serving of fish, chicken or meat.

  1. Braciole
  2. Italian Braised Beef with Parmesan Polenta


The contorno is actually a vegetable to accompany the secondo. As such it is usually served with the secondo and sometimes not considered it’s own course.

  1. Parmesan Roasted Broccolini
  2. Lemon Roasted Carrots


If the contorno contained a salad, then omit this course. Otherwise, a fresh garden salad would be served at this point. It’s a great break after two heavy courses.

  1. Blood Orange, Olive, and Fennel Salad
  2. Italian Wedge Salad with Gorgonzola Dressing

Formaggi e frutta

Yes, an entire course dedicated to local cheeses and fresh seasonal fruit.


Dolce means “sweet” and it is traditionally fruit or biscotti. You could do a fruit pie (crostata), or even something fancier like cakes for special occasions.

  1. Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta (with mixed berry coulis)
  2. Gluten-Free Lemon Almond Cake

Digestivo con caffè

Strong coffee such as espresso to finish off the meal. Can be served with the dolce course (which again argues against the 9 courses). Could also be grappa, amaro, or limoncello.

Homemade Limoncello

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