As one of the other contributors has written, antipasto simply means “before the pasta”, referring to an Italian meal with courses. With respect to the contemporary, “one course” meal, an antipasto simply serve the function of stimulating your olfactory for what is to come. Antipasto, to most people, seems to be an assortment of Italian meats and cheese, perhaps olives and peppers. What is important to know is that an antipasto can be anything you wish it to be. What is important is that it is not a meal in itself and that it be complimentary to the later courses. That being said, here is a very simple antipasto that my wife and I serve occasionally and it is always very nice.
Pancetta (regular bacon can be used, but is not preferable. A more substitute would be prosciutto)
Stuff the dates with rectangles of Manchego cheese (Parmesan works fine too) and wrap with a generous portion of Pancetta. Lightly grease a baking dish with olive oil roast the figs until the Pancetta is cooked, but not burnt. Arrange artfully on a plate and garnish with crushed almonds, drizzled honey and cracked black peppercorns. This is a very light and pleasing dish that can compliment almost anything. The tastes are a reminder of autumn, but it works equally well in the summer months. Enjoy with a nice glass of white wine or a fruity red. We have paired it equally as well with an oaky chardonnay and a light beaujolais. Enjoy!