If you can't go (back) to Italy, don't miss the Italian food extravaganza of Taste of Italy! Discover the highlights of the 2017 edition.

Taste of Italy is where those from all walks of life can enjoy the collaborative efforts of some of LA’s finest Italian chefs and restaurants. And this year’s festivities were the best yet!

At Taste of Italy 2017, there were more vendors and attendees than ever before, meaning even more tantalizing tastes to try along with the usual, fantastic variety of Italian cuisine: from antipasti to appetizers, to pasta, to dolci…. All of this thanks to the organizers, the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles (IAMLA) and, in part, to yours truly, aka Foodiamo as an official event sponsor!

Travelling through the Regions of Italy in Downtown LA

We began with a stop to Antica Locanda di Sesto, owned by Aurelio Barattini who came all the way from Tuscany. His delectable farro with roasted vegetables was healthy and delicious—a balance difficult to find. To any lucky soul who arrived, he gave a shot of pappa al pomodoro (a Tuscan-style tomato soup, if you will) or a shot of polenta with ragu, depending on one’s preference.

Di Stefano Cheese gave us the perfect balance of sweet and savory with its ricotta cheese paired with Amarena Fabbri, the bitter-sweet syruped cherries from the classic jar that all Italians recognize.

Drago Centro pasta at taste of italy 2017

Drago Centro famous garganelli with sausage ragu, tossed in a Parmigiano Reggiano cheese wheel

Two of the best pizzerias in LA were happy to serve their Italian specialties at Taste of Italy: Vito Iacopelli’s Prova Pizzeria with their authentic Neapolitan pizza in a traditional wood-burning oven, along with his frisbee-like trick of rolling the dough shoulder to shoulder, as well as Desano Pizza with its array of classic Neapolitan pizzas (also from a wood-burning oven, of course).

RELATED: What to Order at Pizzeria Mozza

Strolling through a slice of foodie heaven, you could not miss the Fernet Branca and Birra Peroni stands, offering a myriad of drinks to sate even the thirstiest of guests, along with a wide variety of Marco Campo’s wines from San Antonio Winery (an old friend of mine).

Moving along, we stopped at Prince of Venice, Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia’s food stand, where we tasted four or five different pastas. The best one? Ravioli with shaved black truffle, a dish fit for a king and its revelry shared with all. And yes, Emanuele aka the Prince of Venice is a real prince.

Chefs at taste of italy 2017

Spotted at Taste of Italy 2017: from left to right, Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia (Prince of Venice), Michelangelo Aliaga (Primo Italia), and Aurelio Barattini (Antica Locanda di Sesto)

Also gracing the event was Italian consul Antonio Verde, who reminded us that people from all walks of life are united by the love of Italian food, and that all proceeds of this event go to the continued support of Italian culture in LA by the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles.

Some honorable mentions of our journey through Taste of Italy 2017 are going from the Pellini Limoncello stand to the most welcome and fantastic Carrara Pastries, with their exquisite baba (a cake stuffed with rum and cream, a Neapolitan favorite), to the garganelli pasta with fennel pollen and lamb ragu (Drago Centro’s signature dish), to the pesto lasagna by Angelo Peloni of La Bruschetta.

RELATED: La Bruschetta, Westwood: Italian Classics Done Right

We didn’t miss Locanda del Lago’s piadina with Prosciutto di Parma, and we loved their pizzoccheri—a rustic, buckwheat pasta tossed with potatoes and Savoy cabbage, typical of the Valtellina region in the Alps. And how can we forget Angelini Osteria‘s porchetta, or the majesty of the maialino sardo (Sardinian-style suckling pig) roasted on an open grill by Chef Michelangelo Aliaga of Primo Italia?

taste of italy 2017 - prosciutto di parma

Prosciutto di Parma and breadsticks: simple but irresistible!

Taste of Italy LA: Good Food for a Great Cause

Taste of Italy 2017 did not only showcase rich culinary talent and even richer foods. The event directly benefited a major source of Italian culture and heritage in LA: the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles (IAMLA), directed by Taste of Italy chairman Marianna Gatto.

The continuing success of Taste of Italy and all the funds and excitement that come with it help the only Italian museum in LA flourish, and assist Gatto to spread love and knowledge about Italy among those wanting to revel in its wonders.

The crowds at taste of italy 2017


Written by Roberto Croci in collaboration with Elsa Valent Croci. Foodiamo is an official sponsor of Taste of Italy 2017. Thanks to Marianna Gatto, Francesca Guerrini, Maria Marino, the Italian-American Museum of Los Angeles staff, and all Taste of Italy volunteers.