My Italian Grandmother Swears by These Luxe-Looking Dinner Plates, and Now the Style Is Trending on Social Media

published Jan 9, 2023
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When an Italian rendition of the coastal grandmother aesthetic began hitting my social feeds this summer, I found it to be a comforting reminder of a world I already understood, given my family heritage. The Lisa Say Gah “Italian Summer” clothing collection, The Pasta Tarot’s release of the wind-swept Pasta Scarf, @pastagirlfriend’s rise to Insta fame, “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy” on CNN, and “The White Lotus” season two — all wonderful, gorgeous examples of how the Italians celebrate good food, good wine, and good times. Truly, though, none of these could ever fully replicate the experience of living with my Italian grandparents. While far from the Amalfi coastline, I would watch my grandmother handpick juicy, summer tomatoes from her backyard garden in the Bronx for marinara she would then ladle onto blue-and-white Spode plates at dinner. My grandfather, in his slip-on loafers and breast-pocket polo shirts, would quietly speak about the “old country” while dipping bread into freshly-served sauce. 

I watched meal after meal offered with love on those blue, ornate plates — and what I loved the most was how no matter the occasion or time of day, it always felt special. This bold-looking tableware transformed a simple pasta into something magical. Quick pennes and thrown-together salads felt modern and Instagram-worthy, even though the plates were passed down from my great-great-grandmother in Pompeii, my great-grandmother in Naples, and to my grandmother when she got married here in the states. 

Beyond my sunny memories, this dinnerware trend has recently been dominating TikTok and Instagram, leaving its mark on modern kitchenware and leaning into the #italiansummer aesthetic. More than their signature ocean-blue markings and ceramic craftsmanship, these plates are a reminder to slow down, dine well, and bask in beauty like the Italians do. In fact, when visiting Italy this fall, I happened to take a cooking class with Stefanie Celio, owner of The Blue Kitchen Capri cooking school, who describes this distinct shade of blue as an ode to Italian summers. “Blue for Italians is truly the feeling of a summer beach day embracing la dolce vita at a very slow pace, living in the moment surrounded by natural beauty,” Celio says. Even though we grew up an ocean apart, the dinnerware styles between Capri and my grandmother’s kitchen were enchantingly parallel.

While the warm months in the Bronx listening to opera music and nursing a blue bowl full of ravioli are long gone, I can always see the ocean peeking up at me from my own dinner set, reminding me of the allure of an Italian summer. Ready to channel that wanderlust for yourself and serve up a big plate of ravioli (or any entree, really) on luxe-looking Italian-inspired dinnerware? Still reeling from a Monica Vitti-impersonating Jennifer Coolidge slurping down linguine vongole, as well? Then say hello to these eight blue-and-white plates below, which add a celebratory, summery touch to any dinner table, year-round.

1 / 8
Sur La Table

My grandmother would famously use her most elegant, Italian-made dinnerware when serving easy omelets and simple sandwich lunches, never wanting to forgo an opportunity to have a special meal. You, too, can create your own ordinary-yet-exceptional memories with this cream-based, blue Sur La Table plate. The rimmed edge pulls the flower-covered arrangement together as if it’s an art piece rather than a serving dish. In this moment (and all across this list), I encourage you to eat off the art!

2 / 8
Saks Fifth Avenue

Made in Italy but inspired by mosaic tiles found in the Greek Isles, this salad plate packs a bold personality. The hand-painted ceramic makes a one-of-a-kind, dreamy mismatch when paired with a dinner plate or bowl in a differing design. The slightly wavy texture also reminds me of visiting Ischia this year to retrace my grandmother’s favorite Italian places.

3 / 8

When I think about the Italian countryside, I see simple table settings where the dishware highlights lemon accents, mint bushels, and assorted freshly plucked garden vegetables. Get the look, no passport needed, with this reimagined Spode design, which features a blue-and-white pictorial border and a white center to draw attention to the served meal. The plate straddles the line between maximalist and minimalist dinnerware, so it’s fit for every style.

4 / 8
was $36.00

The dark-blue art across this stoneware set complements the simplicity of lettuce, cucumber, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper — a celebratory reminder that only a few ingredients (and pretty plate!) are needed to make a dish memorable. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, this floral design is waiting to be a part of your table setting.

5 / 8

These plates will make you want to plan a picnic or serve aperitivos, even on a cold day! The budding flower art takes the traditional blue-and-white design to the next level — creating movement and al-fresco-inspired magic on each dish. For $32, you and three of your friends can recreate your favorite dinner scene from “The White Lotus” (but, spoiler alert, not that final boat dinner).

6 / 8

How very Italian sea! This Caskata 4-piece canapé collection spotlights an intricately-designed octopus wrapping her tentacles around the white porcelain structure — ready to serve up small bites in style. The decorative design is a perfect option if you're looking for unique, appetizer-sized deepwater plates, which stand out even more paired with bowls or cups in different colors and patterns.

7 / 8
Birch Lane

Out of the whole list, this dinnerware set of 12 is the closest to the dinner plates, bowls, and serving trays in my grandmother's kitchen. The deeper blue is brazen for a simple dinner, but doesn't complicate the table or feel too matchy-matchy when stacked together.

8 / 8

Between the heart center, squiggly ocean-wave pattern, and range of blues — talk about authenticity! This two-piece ceramic plate set is a hand-painted masterpiece, shaped and crafted using traditional techniques (and note that the price reflects that). Its artisanal roots lend each plate to being completely unique…no two are alike! Splurge on the pair to really live la dolce vita at your next big Italian dinner.