As a snack or an appetizer, there's nothing quite as light, restorative, and fun as a sampling of Italian small bites. Mix and match these recipes—plates of grilled polenta, stuffed zucchini and cherry peppers, sweet and sour sardines, and more—serving one or two for a casual get-together with a friend, or a whole spread for a crowd.
Who doesn't love fried food? Our fried broccoli rabe and Italian sausage ravioli are hearty enough to be a meal in and of themselves. Frittatine di pasta, spaghetti fritters with ham and mozzarella, will also fill you up, as will our veal croquettes or arancini rice fritters. For a lighter fried snack, try anchovy-stuffed zucchini blossoms.
Want more seafood? How about a crostini topped with sardines and salsa verde, or garlicky, pancetta-studded shrimp? Or, if you want to go all out, combine shrimp, fish, and squid for an extravagant fritto misto.
Don't worry, vegetarians, we have you covered too. Our broccoli rabe, cannellini bean, and ricotta crostini is as satisfying as its meaty counterparts. For an appetizer that could easily double as a main, try our ricotta and roasted pepper frittata. Stuffing zucchini with pecorino and ricotta makes for a rich appetizer or side dish.
With all of these great Italian appetizers, you might not even make it to the pasta course. Check out our collection of Italian appetizer recipes.
For this simple Italian hors d’oeuvre, delicate zucchini flowers are filled with salty anchovy fillets and batter-fried.
For this simple appetizer, shrimp are sautéed in smoky bacon fat and served on grilled bread with rosemary.
Broccoli Rabe and Italian Sausage Fried Ravioli
Broccoli Rabe, Cannellini Bean, and Ricotta Crostini
A bright and simple salad adds fresh contrast to fried strips of pizza dough.
Coiled strands of spaghetti soak up a creamy sauce in these delectable fried ham and cheese fritters.
Rich ground veal and potatoes are seasoned with garlic and parsley and fried for a classic Venetian snack.
Our favorite fillings for light, dainty Venetian tea sandwiches are asparagus and eggs, tuna and olives, and arugula with cured beef. Serve a selection open-faced for a colorful, eye-catching presentation.
Everything’s better wrapped in bacon, including artichoke hearts.
Thyme and white wine bring out the sweet flavor of mussels in this classic dish.
Ripe cherry tomatoes add sweetness to crostini topped with fresh ricotta.
Creamy, luscious cows’ or sheep’s milk ricotta pairs beautifully with soppressata and grilled, toasted, or fried slices of crusty bread for a simple and rustic crostini.
Deep-frying seafood in a good-quality extra-virgin olive oil imparts fruity, peppery flavors and creates an incredibly delicate crust.
These little sandwiches have a big range of flavors, from the salty sardines to to the tangy flavors of tarragon and chive salsa verde.
This classic sweet and sour eggplant dish is rich and sweetened with caramelized onions and raisins.
This creamy codfish mousse is delicious served with char-grilled squares of polenta.
In this dish, zucchini are stuffed with the twin stars of Calabrian cheese making: pecorino and ricotta. Flecked with tomato and mint, they are equally good eaten hot or at room temperature.
Capers, tuna, and anchovies balance the heat in these small, stuffed cherry peppers.
These olives are incredibly simple—all you have to do is mix them with orange zest and juice, rosemary, and pepper, then let them sit for an hour.
Roasted Artichokes (Carciofi Arrostiti)
Creamy ricotta, silky roasted peppers, and hearty potatoes combine for an easy one-skillet dish that originates in Calabria, Italy, where sometimes sliced, cured sausage is added to it to celebrate the end of Lent.
This dish of zucchini stuffed with prosciutto, tomatoes, and cheese is a hearty finger food.
This buttery, garlicky classic from Carbone restaurant in NYC is our Platonic ideal of garlic bread.
This thick, porridgelike soup is a hearty way to start a meal.
Briny and slightly crispy fried capers punch up the flavor of this classic Italian tomato and mozzarella salad.