When I first heard of the event, my curiosity was piqued. Of course I would be interested in an Italian themed food event! But there weren't many specifics on the website so I was wondering if I should spend the $70 on a virtual unknown. When I found a Living Social deal that cut the price in half, I couldn't resist.
When we arrived, we were greeted by festive decorations and helpful staff. They checked us in, gave us each a wine glass and explained that in addition to the giant food tent, there was a room for desserts inside. This was sounding great already!
|Le Dolce Cafe was full of desserts and coffee|
|Michele Iacobelli Buckholtz, owner|
Another place that was on my must try list was Washington Place Bistro. I went to their restaurant once before and was looking forward to another taste. I loved the presentation of a corn chowder in mugs - easy to carry, cute and delicious!
Michaelangelo's was another must taste for me. Chef Michael Annodono was a featured chef for a Cleveland International Film Fest Film Feast and he really impressed me. They offered cavatelli with a veal, muscovy duck, guinea fowl and tomato-barolo ragu - what a mouthful! A delicious mouthful!
Gusto was there too and their offering was a mixed green salad with berries. It was delicious but I was disappointed because I know that their kitchen really makes some fantastic pasta.
The reincarnated Club Isabella is the new kid on the block in Little Italy. I loved the original restaurant and was eager to see what they were cooking. Their short ribs were tender and flavorful. I liked that they were served on mini bamboo skewers - no fork needed!
And what's an Italian food event without PIZZA! These guys were working the ovens like crazy. It was a very popular booth.
I was even brave and tried Primo Vino's tripe soup. I know my Italian Grammie LOVES tripe but I never cared for the texture or taste. I found that I still don't like the texture, but the taste was delicious.
For the first time ever there was a tie in the top food category. La Dolce Vita tied with Mia Bella for best food of the event! La Dolce Vita's vegan friendly pasta was fresh tasting and would be a great dish to take on a picnic.
|Terry Tarantino, owner|
The other winning dish was from Mia Bella. It was pasta with a lobster sauce that contained peas and prosciutto. It was luscious and decadent!
And we had more food:
|breaded chicken cutlet and pasta|
|mushroom ravioli with osso bucco sauce|
|short ribs, polenta and lemon garlic greens|
One of the restaurants that I was most looking forward also ended up being one of the last ones we tasted. It was worth the wait! La Campanga is a unique family run restaurant in Westlake. The restaurant has very limited choices because they do not actually have a traditional menu, but the food is seasonal, authentic and fabulous! The Campagna sisters were featured at the Garlic Festival (see my blog here) and I couldn't wait to see what magic they were whipping up for the Taste. They made braciole with truffled polenta. The polenta truly was magical! The truffle paired with the creamy polenta was addictive. The best ever!
|Carmella and Marie|
|Carmella, Marie, cousin Dave, and brother Michael|
We also managed to score the last cannoli from Presti's, baklava and Baci candy. They also had an espresso machine serving up coffee. This was the only long line I had to stand in all day.
In addition to the fantastic food and wine, there was also musical entertainment and local celebrities including legendary Browns coach Sam Rutigliano, Judge Dick Ambrose, former Cavs coach Mike Fratello and Bob Serpentini showing their support for this worthwhile cause.
And then stopped in to see Nido Italia. They served up some super hot stuffed peppers at the Taste that were delicious. We wanted to end our night on their beautiful patio.