A Taste of Italy, Los Angeles Style

Taste of Italy Los Angeles, L.A.’s premiere Italian food and wine event, was held this year on Oct. 12 and featured award-winning restaurants, world-class wineries, celebrity chefs, and live entertainment. Held in the historic Pico House and Los Angeles Plaza Historic District in the heart of downtown L.A., Taste of Italy Los Angeles is the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles’ (IAMLA) largest fundraiser.

Guests flowed through Pico House from the Old Plaza, which was transformed into a charming piazza, where italofili (italophiles) joined celebrities, dignitaries and philanthropists to eat, drink, be entertained, and mingle. 

In its 11th year, the 21-and-over event drew a diverse upscale crowd of over 2,500 attendees including educated professionals who earn over $250,000 annually and, of course, are interested in Italian living, dining, entertainment, and travel.

Taste of Italy was widely covered by local media, including radio and television, Los Angeles Magazine and the LA Times, providing a variety of marketing opportunities and exposure for the participating vendors and their products.

Continuous live on-stage entertainment featured Joe Lo Piccolo’s Italian Project, the Bella Notte Opera Trio, Lou Giovannetti, singing timeless songbook classics, exciting announcements about IAMLA, the Swing Dolls, a retro-style vocal trio singing in English and Italian, and Nick D’Egidio, with the Dry Martini Orchestra, singing a celebration of Frank Sinatra. Festivalgoers danced in the piazza to sounds mixed by DJ Lo.

As an IAMLA volunteer, I was able to experience this popular event from behind the scenes and also as a guest where it was easy to get drawn into the excitement of being part of the festivities. As the sun set and the party lights came on, I mingled with other attendees, wine tasting glasses and food sampling plates in hand, many speaking their native Italian, and with Italian music sounding from the stage. I almost forgot that I was in L.A. and not in Italy!

With fellow volunteer Amelia and friend Chris, I walked around to every food vendor to carefully look over the choices – a very difficult decision, as was what to drink from the many wines and spirits to choose from. We chose the risotto giallo, (rice with saffron) an age-old recipe brought directly from Milan, gnocchi all’arrabbiata, from Pasta Sisters restaurant, margarita pizza made by Prova Pizzeria baked in a wood-fired oven (the only way to bake real Italian pizza!), and cannoli with a very smooth and creamy filling. My most interesting choice was a Japanese/Italian dessert, mochi pon de rings, a sweet, sticky, chewy donut, made of a connected circle of eight dough balls. It is made with glutinous rice flour and no yeast, topped with a strawberry glaze and whipped cream. 

If you want to become immersed in Italian culture for one night, experience the passion that Italians have for their foods, wines and music as well as their tradition of savoring time with family and friends, this is an event you do not want to miss!