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Spuntini (What it means guide)

If you plan to dine out at an Italian restaurant, the menu will often include Italian food with some unknown names. Be sure to ask about the spuntini options. This word refers to a type of appetizer that is typically served before a meal.

Spuntini treats can be simple or more elaborate but it meant to increase your appetite and prepare you for the main event. You may be pleasantly surprised by how much you enjoy it.

table with plates filled with spuntini appetizers: salami, sliced cheese, olives, grape tomatoes, crackers

What is Spuntini?

Spuntini is an Italian word that refers to a snack. Enjoy this snack as an appetizer or starter, most people like to take it in between meals. In the U.S, restaurants serve appetizers at the start of a meal.

The word spuntini comes from the Italian word “spunta”- a verb that means “to pop out.” In the Italian language, it means “snacks.” It is also a word used to describe the theory of sharing several dishes and enjoying them as a group.

Spuntini can also be enjoyed as a light snack or even as a main dish in itself. It typically consists of small pieces of food, such as olives, cheese, and cured mixed cold cuts meats, mini sandwiches, mini pizzas, breadsticks, biscuits, crackers, pastries, salamis, salads, crostini, pickles, and other savory bites served on a toast. They can be savory or sweet and typically served cold, but they can also be hot or warm.

The best time to enjoy spuntinis is between breakfast and lunch. Breakfast is at about 8 AM, and lunch is at noon. Italians prefer to have a snack between breakfast and lunch- this could be around 10 AM or 11 AM.

Many people confuse spuntini for Merenda. Merenda is a light snack in Europe, particularly in Spain. It’s a snack that is served as an afternoon snack between 3 PM and 5 PM. Small children and even adults like to eat Merenda. It is usually sweet and includes pastries, cookies, or gelato.

What does Spuntini mean on the Menu?

Spuntino is the singular form for “snack” – spuntini is the plural word. If you want a snack in Italy, the right word to use would be “spuntino.” The term spuntini is used on the menu because it refers to all the snacks offered by the restaurant.

This word on the menu includes small bites, appetizers, or snacks you can share with your family.

Spuntini is very similar to tapas (snack or appetizer in Spanish cuisine) which are small portions of food served on small plates and shared with others over a drink.

Ordering spuntini allows you to enjoy a small tasting of restaurants several snacks. Some bars, hotels, or restaurants have a separate menu, and it is being provided between meals or after-hours menus.

Popular Spuntini Ideas

Since spuntini is a snack, the portion sizes offer single small serving orders. They are served in the center of the table because they are meant to be shared among diners. Many restaurants offer their own unique take on spuntini, making it a great way to try new foods and flavors. If you’re looking for some delicious spuntini ideas, look no further than this list:

  • Bruschetta: This classic Italian appetizer is always a hit! Slice up some fresh bread, and top with diced tomatoes, garlic, basil, and olive oil.
  • Zesty Shrimp Cocktail Bites: These bite-sized morsels are perfect for snacking! Serve them with a zesty cocktail sauce made with ketchup, horseradish, and lemon juice.
  • Crab Cakes: Try these crab cakes if you’re looking for something a little fancier! They’re perfect for a party and go well with various sauces.
  • Vegetable Platter: For the health-conscious, or those who just love veggies, put out a platter of fresh vegetables like carrots, celery, cucumbers, and peppers. Serve with a dipping sauce like ranch or hummus.
  • Fruit Platter: A fresh fruit platter is a great way to add a little sweetness to your appetizer spread. Arrange a variety of fruits like grapes, strawberries, cherries, and melon on a platter. Serve with a yogurt dipping sauce.
  • Cheese Platter: A cheese platter is always a hit! Choose a variety of cheeses like cheddar, Swiss, brie, and goat cheese. Serve with crackers, baguettes, or fruit.
  • Charcuterie Platter: For the meat lovers out there, put out a charcuterie platter with various dry-cured meats like salami, prosciutto, and sausage. Serve with crackers, baguettes, or mustards.
  • Spicy Chicken Wings: Chicken wings are always a party favorite! Make them extra special by coating them in a homemade spicy sauce.
  • Pizza Bites: These bite-sized pizzas are perfect for snacking! Top with your favorite toppings like pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, and onions.
  • Caprese Skewers: Try these Caprese skewers for a light and refreshing appetizer! Alternate between cherry tomatoes, mozzarella balls, and fresh basil leaves, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, enjoy cold.
  • Arancini. Italian rice balls, stuffed with meat, peas, and cheese, are coated with bread crumbs and deep-fried.
  • Calamari. A classic Italian dish. The squid is dipped in batter and fried. You can enjoy this dish with lemon and sauce.
  • Banana Oat Biscuits. Oats, mashed potatoes, honey, and coconut oil combine to make a biscuit.
  • Spinach and Artichoke Dip. Spinach and artichoke mixed with cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and parmesan cheese make an irresistibly cheesy and creamy dip. You can enjoy this dip with chips.
  • Cooked Vegetables Skewers. You can find this healthy vegetarian spuntini on many Italian menus.
  • Panzerotti. This dish is a small pocket of belly-shaped dough filled with mozzarella and tomato sauce.
  • Polenta. This Italian dish is a porridge made from boiled fine-ground or coarse cornmeal.
  • Sgagliozze. This signature street food from Italy is fried polenta cut into squares and rectangles.
  • Taralli. This delicious doughnut-shaped cookie has the same texture as pretzels or breadsticks. Taralli comes with Suga (confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar) glazing.
  • Panini. The small sandwich is served on a soft focaccia bread filled with cheese, vegetables, and various kinds of salumi (an Italian cured meat, mainly pork).
  • Pickled Vegetables. When it comes to pickled vegetables, there are endless possibilities. You can pickle just about any vegetable you can think of, from carrots and cucumbers to peppers and onions. The options are truly endless.

Is Spuntini healthy?

While some people may view spuntini as nothing more than a way to fill up before dinner, some health benefits are actually associated with this dish.

  • For one, spuntini is a excellent source of high protein foods and healthy fats. The meats and cheeses that are typically included in this dish offer a good amount of these nutrients, which can help replenish lost energy, boost brain power, and keep you feeling satisfied and full.
  • Additionally, the olives and bread provide some complex carbohydrates for sustained energy while controlling blood sugar levels.
  • Another benefit is that it is relatively low in calories. This makes it a great option if you watch your weight or try to eat healthier.

Of course, the exact calorie count will vary depending on the ingredients you use, but overall, spuntini is a relatively light dish. So, is it really healthy? Overall, yes! This healthy snack provides a good mix of nutrients and is relatively low in calories. Just be sure to watch your portion size and choose spuntini that are whole foods to get the most benefit from this dish.

Spuntini vs. Antipasti

These food categories not only consist of different types of food, but they also have specific times of the day to enjoy them.

Antipasto platter is a common food category on the menu of restaurants. Antipasti” comes from the Latin words “anti” (before) and “pastus”(meal). Antipasti, therefore, means a dish eaten before a meal. It is referred to as an appetizer in the U.S.

“Antipasto” is the singular form for “Antipasti. Antipasti is the food category on the menu or when you are ordering several dishes. You use the word Antipasto when you are ordering a single serving.

Many non-Italians get confused with the words “spuntini” and antipasti. They both mean the same thing but are different categories of food. However, many Italian snacks (spuntini) appear as appetizers (antipasti) on the menu.

The main difference is that spuntini is a standalone snack, while antipasti is part of a meal eaten before the main course. It can also be antipasti and vice versa.

You have antipasti if the meal is eaten immediately before the main course. If you go to the many Italian restaurants only for an appetizer and a drink, in Italian, you are having spuntini.

For easy understanding, when you see spuntini and antipasti on a menu, they mean appetizers. These words are often interchangeable but never appear together in a menu.

An easier way to differentiate spuntini and antipasti is the time of day when these foods you are served these dishes. Spuntino is served any time between breakfast and lunch. You are served Antipasti immediately before the main course because it is part of the meal.

Italians are proud of their culture. Therefore, it is crucial that you correctly use spuntini and antipasti in Italy or in an authentic Italian restaurant.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you eat spuntini every day?

Yes. You can eat spuntini every day. These snacks are good for you because they are associated with many health benefits. You must, however, check on the ingredients of each snack and be mindful of the amount you eat every day. Spuntini can be a part of your healthy diet.

What are some famous spuntini?

Italy is known for its pizzas, cheeses, and bread and for spuntini. Fruits, vegetables, bread, meat, and seafood are common spuntini ingredients.

Some famous spuntini include cannoli, Panini, bruschetta, fried green tomato Caprese, roasted peppers, dried fruit, zucchini fritters, etc.

What is the difference between spuntini and antipasti?

Spuntini is a snack, while antipasti is an appetizer. Spuntini is a standalone dish eaten in between meals. Antipasti is part of a meal. You eat the food before the main course. However, both spuntini and antipasti have the same ingredients. People using them interchangeably is common.

Final Thoughts

On the menu, spuntini is a separate small meal. It is not an appetizer. You eat spuntini, a standalone meal between breakfast and lunch
You can eat a hearty spuntini but should only eat a moderate amount of your appetizer, so you are not full enough for the rest of the meal.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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