Valentine Date Night Guide


How to Host a Romantic Italian-Style Dinner

The Pasolivo Valentine Date Night Guide

There’s no better to way to show affection than by cooking a meal for that special someone. Food is love, after all. Show your Valentine how much you care by putting together a beautifully romantic, thoughtful meal they’ll never forget with a little bit of help from Pasolivo. Follow along to learn the ins and outs of hosting a formal, romantic dinner for your S.O. You’ll be a pro by the end of this article!


Setting the scene

Ambiance is everything. Creating the mood is the first and arguably most important part of hosting a dinner for your valentine. Here’s some tips for establishing the Italian dinner party vibe: 

  • No overhead lighting– stick to candles and lamps. You want to create a soft, ambient glow. These mini candles fit perfectly on the dinner table, and add a layer of warmth to the scene.
  • Pull your best table cloth out of the linen closet– or how about one of these Parisian table runners as featured above? These are a more limited stock, available at the Pasolivo Ranch. Call (805) 227-0186 to check our inventory.
  • Don’t forget the music! If you want to create the feel of a romantic Italian restaurant, put on a coordinating playlist. Check out this one on Spotify.
  • Lastly: Setting a formal table can be confusing. Follow this visual guide and you’ll be set for success:



Recipe: The Pasolivo Aperitivo

A classic Italian dinner starts with aperitivo. The word “aperitivo” derives from the latin word “aperire” which means “to open.” The aperitivo is more casual than the following courses– it’s meant to gradually ease the diners into the ambiance of a meal with good conversation and light snacking. It could even take place at the kitchen counter while the host wraps up the final preparations for the meal. Aperitivo cocktails are typically carbonated, bitter, and low ABV. Our Pasolivo Aperitvo is a perfect example; it’s our version of an Aperol Spritz. This drink is great alongside the simple combination of fresh-baked baguette, Pasolivo Tuscan EVOO and Parmigiano Reggiano– especially stunning served in one of our Heart Shaped Dipping Dishes.

Traditionally, this is the only time to serve a cocktail during a formal Italian dinner. The meal itself is only meant to be served with wine.

The Pasolivo Aperitivo


Heart-Shaped Dipping Dish


Moving into antipasto! The Latin origin equates to “before meal.” This course is similar to the aperitivo but more substantial: charcuterie, bruschetta, tapenade, etc. Our olivewood serving boards are a beautiful backdrop for charcuterie, or perhaps some crostini with our Fig & Olive Tapenade.


Recipe: Tomato Basil Gazpacho

Finally, the first official course! Primi often consists of soup, pasta, risotto or gnocchi. Typically, it does not contain any meat. Here we chose a Tomato-Basil Gazpacho– light, refreshing, and rest assured you’ll still be hungry enough for the main event: secondi. Although this dish has Spanish origins, our Basil Olive Oil gives the soup an Italian flare.

Tomato Basil Gazpacho



Recipe: Savory Butter-basted Steak

The focus of secondi is a meat or seafood preparation. Here we featured our Savory Butter-Basted Steak with a side of sautéed green beans. This steak has incredible umami flavor thanks to Pasolivo Truffle Salt and our Central Coast Broth. Traditionally, the vegetable side dish, or contorni, is served on a separate plate. Frankly, our table did not have the space for a separate dish. Adjust the menu and placement according to your needs.

Savory Butter-basted Steak



Now the moment we’ve been waiting for: Dolce. Panna cotta, tiramisu, cannoli, whatever your heart desires. For an authentic touch, serve with espresso or black coffee.

We love this elegantly simplistic choice of vanilla gelato with Blackberry Balsamic reduction and our Lime Olive Oil. Simply simmer the balsamic with a handful of blackberries until it coats the back of a spoon. Then you have a lovely sauce to complete your sophisticated sundae followed by a drizzle of Lime Olive Oil and a touch of Himalayan Pink Sea Salt.


There you have it! A romantic Italian dinner for two, Pasolivo style. Finish with a few sips of amaretto, brandy or limoncello as a digestivo. A dinner like this requires effort and planning– an endeavor worthy of that special someone. It’s a labor of love!


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