I just love hosting a good dinner party. Friends, good food, and great wine all in the comfort of your own home where you can really enjoy each others company… it just doesn’t get much better than that to me! Entertaining can be stressful and overwhelming. What should I cook? How do I make it look pretty? I know this is something everyone struggles with but you don’t have to! Try hosting a party where your guests take part in the preparation of the food, like a “make your own pizza” party like I did here. It not only lightens the load, but sitting around a table and cooking as a group just brings everyone together– especially with a good glass of wine in hand.
If you’ve followed me for awhile, you know how much I just love anything made by RAO’S Homemade®. They have the most delicious marinaras, oils, antipasto items, pastas, and so much more made with real, clean ingredients. As an Italian, I am picky when it comes to store bought sauces, but RAO’S® knows exactly what they are doing, and it’s the only brand I buy! They also make a fabulous pizza sauce, which was the star of the show at my dinner party here, but you’ll see I incorporated a ton of my favorite RAO’S® products in my party!
The most wonderful thing about hosting a pizza party, is the beautiful toppings that your guests can use on their pizza become one stunning centerpiece. There is no right or wrong way of doing it, you just have to add all the layers, throw out some beautiful flowers, a few tea light candles and you’re table is set and your dinner party is as gorgeous as ever. Let’s talk about how to get that effortless yet elegant look, shall we?
How to make your tables-cape beautiful:
As a back drop, I started off with a long table that I topped with a red and white gingham table cloth. I used these wooden serving boards for the meats and from there I went through my kitchen and I grabbed bowls of all different shapes, sizes, and different materials. Some were wood, some metal, some glass. It doesn’t matter! The food does all the talking! I filled the bowls with spinach, arugula, shredded cheeses, and other small garnishes that people could use to top their pizzas. I tossed out the jars of pizza sauce with spoons in them along with jars of oils and balsamic to add to the beautiful cluster. I also used my everyday, simple white dinner plates with simple white linen napkins for each place setting, threw out some stemless (casual) wine glasses, some bottles of Italian red wine, and when it all came together, it looked absolutely gorgeous!
For the Pizza Topping Options:
You can use whatever toppings you want for your party, but here are the items I had out for my guests to use on their pizzas: prosciutto, sopressata, pepperoni, RAO’S Homemade Pizza Sauce, crumbled goat cheese, shredded mozzarella, shredded parmesan, sliced figs, sliced tomatoes, RAO’S Homemade Grilled Mushrooms, sliced jalapeno, sliced onions, RAO’S Homemade Grilled Artichokes, baby spinach, baby arugula, white truffle oil, RAO’S Homemade Garlic Infused Olive Oil, fresh basil leaves, fresh rosemary, dried oregano, coarse salt, crushed red pepper, honey, fig jam, homemade lemon-basil pesto, and RAO’S Homemade Aged Balsamic Vinegar. I used storebought thin pizza crusts (that I purchased from my local italian grocery store in their freezer section), but you can find store bought pizza crusts all over the place!
Creating a beautiful Antipasto platter for Guests to Snack on:
When my guests arrive, I always like to offer some appetizers prior to eating dinner. That way we have some time to enjoy a glass or two of wine before dinner plus, it’s nice to give your guests at least 20-30 minutes to just greet one another before asking them to sit down. Something to snack on during this time is so nice. I made a big antipasto platter that was not only beautiful but again, no cooking required, just filling it with absolutely gorgeous and delicious ingredients that all come together. I went to Jimmy’s Italian Food Store here in Dallas where I bought some delicious meats and cheeses for my platter. Again, you can put whatever you want on your platter but here is what I put on mine: genoa salami, mild coppacola, mortadella with pistachio, seaside cheddar cheese, sliced manchego cheese, some aged goat blue cheese, grapes, olives, pickles, marcona almonds, RAO’S Homemade roasted red peppers with pine nuts, fig jam, and figs.
When everyone sat down, I also brought out two side dishes to go with our pizzas. A made a big Caesar Salad (my homamade caesar dressing is the best) for something green, and I also made some mini spicy meatballs, which actually ended up making it on top of my husbands pizza for a really manly dish! haha. For the mini meatballs, I used this meatball recipe here, but I rolled them into smaller sized balls and fried them in olive oil on the stove top. I actually did this the day before and kept them in the fridge overnight. Right before my guests arrived, I threw them in a cast iron skillet, topped it with RAOS Homemade Arrabbiata Sauce, covered them and let them reheat on medium-low heat for about 20 minutes. I then let sprinkled some shredded mozzerella over the top and let that melt right before serving!
After I passed everyone’s pizza crusts out, everyone got messy and built their own fun little pizza creations. My husband fired up his Big Green Egg and grilled the guys’ pizzas on there while I baked all of the girls’ in my oven at 425 for about 10 minutes. Using both my oven and his grill made it so we weren’t all waiting “in line” for our pizza to be grilled. It was perfect! We all had our pizzas in no time and were able to share and enjoy them all together!
For the flowers, my favorite florist in Dallas, Park Cities Petals, put together this simple yet elegant moody, dark red arrangements for me. I wanted a monochromatic look so it added some elegance to the table, but didn’t take away from that moody, Italian pizza soiree look I had envisioned! I just love the way they turned out.
For a little side dish, I used the RAO’S Garlic Infused Olive oil combined with a ton of italian seasoning to serve with some sliced, crusty baguette.
The rest? It was all good food and friends from there. The night fell and I plugged in the string lights I have on my back patio along with a tree we keep wrapped in christmas lights year round (solely for entertaining purposes), lit the candles on the tables, sipped wine, laughed with my friends, and ate lots of pizza. It doesn’t get much more beautiful than that folks!
Cheers to good friends, good wine, and pizza al fresco!
This party was photographed by the beautiful Kristen Kilpatrick.
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