Few things are more satisfying than a hearty Italian meal, just ask Mario Batali. For our September issue, the N.Y.C. super-chef and restaurateur gave us five delicious recipes, ranging from prosciutto-wrapped grilled asparagus to ricotta pudding cake, for your next Roman Holiday-style dinner party. To help take your fête to the next level, our lifestyle editors dreamed up clever styling ideas that inspire la dolce vita from the moment you have your first forkful of pasta. Just follow these three simple steps.
1. Prop with penne.
Celebrate the glorious shapes of artisanal pastas by shaking them straight from the bag into elegant glass vessels. Keep the look graphic by using a single noodle variety for each container, then cluster them together on the table.
2. Elevate your espresso.
Empty coffee canisters from Rome's historic Sant'Eustachio cafè and use them as vases for lush flowers. Then fill demitasse cups cups with the roasted beans and place one at every setting. Poke a wood skewer with a name tag glued on into each.
3. Play games!
Print out cards with the words "ciao bella" on one side and a Rome-related trivia question on the other (think Sophia Loren film factoids). Scatter them on the table. Set the mood with retro-chic Peppino Gagliardi tunes.
Click here to download templates to make your own tags and game cards.