All Things Made In Italy: Gala Italia 2012
Inside the 27th annual gala with wine, cheese, and so much more!

The 27th annual Gala Italia was celebrated this past Thursday on February 23rd at the Marriot Marquis under the patronage of the Ambassador of Italy, Claudio Bisogniero. The event was hosted by the Italian Wine & Food Institute to promote and celebrate all things Italian and “perpetuate the great vitality of Made in Italy within the local market despite the current economic crisis” faced by Italy. Vineyards from all over Italy were showcased, proudly pouring samples of their award winning wines. Guests who are new to Italian wines or wanted a “cheat sheet” for sampling the best wines offered could use their Gala Italia catalog to try wines awarded the prestigious first place certificate by an Independent American Jury of wine specialists.

Our favorite of the night’s award winning wines was Arcanum’s Il Fauno di Arcanum 2007 from the Tuscan region of Chianti Classico. This supple, rich, complex wine is perfectly paired with pasta Bolognese or game hens with pomegranates due to the wine’s multi-layered complexity. We were originally drawn to this vineyard because of its simple laser-jet printed labels adorning their bottles. Giving the sense that it was made at home was an attraction due to the popularity of home beer brewing and wine making. Don’t let the labels fool you; Il Fauno di Arcanum can transport you to their enchanting Tuscan vineyards during autumn by the glass due to its “lingering finish of forest floor, earth, and spice.”

Some of the most esteemed Italian restaurants in New York City presented to Gala Italia 2012 attendees their best gourmet dishes. Our top five restaurant picks of the night offered dishes that were both unique and classic Italian fare.

Gusto (60 Greenwich Avenue) offered a sample of their Zuppa di Radici, a soup made from celery, truffles, wild mushrooms, and Parmesan cheese. The soup was delectable but what won us over was their Italian donuts, bonbolonis, a fried donut filled with vanilla custard and dusted with sugar.  

Circo (120 West 55th Street) also created a wonderful soup made from Tuscan chick peas, rosemary, and pieces of rock shrimp then garnished with crispy shallots and a basil salad. This soup also caters to vegan dinners, without the rock shrimp (added when plated) the soup is animal-product free.

Casa Nonna (310 West 38th Street) may have created the perfect meatball. Their mini meatballs, made from a blend of veal and porcini mushrooms, melt in your mouth. For those veg heads out there, Casa Nonna also offered a fresh zucchini and pesto crostini option. Casa Nonna didn’t forget dessert lovers either; they dished out small canolis with sheep’s milk filling dipped in chocolate shavings and finely chopped pistachio nuts.

Paola’s Restaurant (1295 A Madison Avenue) had a tasting of their mushroom and truffle crostini with Parmesan shavings and an eggplant caponata paired with a big hunk of fresh buffalo mozzarella, all served by Paola herself. If you’re in the mood for a meal that feels like home and cooked with love make sure to check out Paola’s.

Acqua at Peck Slip (21 Peck Slip) used only market fresh ingredients from that day to present the Gala Italia with an Italian take on ceviche. Acqua’s rendition was made using freshly caught salmon, lime, mango, and orange juices garnished with roasted corn kernels and pumpkin seeds. For dessert, Acqua created a decadent dark chocolate and espresso mousse with a thick covering of sea salt caramel.  

No time for a fancy sit-down dinner? Check out Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto (283 Amsterdam Avenue) where they offer a menu of tastings called Assaggi for lunch or dinner. By offering small plates and tastings, diners are given the opportunity to sample a wide variety of seasonally available Tuscan foods.

Leading participants from the food and beverage industry were also represented at Gala Italia 2012. Such participants include Ferrero confectionaries, Illy Caffé, Munari Balsamic Vinegars, and Monini Olive Oils among many others.

Save room for the Gala Italia 2013 being planned for February 21.