Monday, December 6, 2010

Italian events offer films, cuisine and culture with a Sicilian kick

By Meiko Patton
SDUN Reporter

All things Italian come to San Diego this month with three events: the San Diego Italian Film Festival, the Sicilian Festival and the Taste of Little Italy.

The film festival, themed CineCucina (“kitchen cinema” in Italian), begins Thursday, May 20, at 7 p.m., at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park, where food documentaries and short stories from an Italian perspective will be screened.

“We believe that every culture brings something different to life, which makes it more interesting,” said Victor Laruccia, the film festival’s executive director. “We want people to be joyful, have fun and experience the passion with which Italians live their lives.”

On Saturday, May 22, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., the lot on the corner of 29th Street and North Park Way will transform into an Italian-style market with vendors offering certified produce from San Diego farms, demonstrations and cook-offs.

At 6 p.m., the event will move to the Birch North Park Theatre. First, award-winning writer/photographer Douglas Gayeton, whose visit is sponsored by Slow Food Urban San Diego, will discuss his work in food and sustainability. Following his presentation will be a screening of “Foccacia Blues,” a true story about two Italian bakers who ran the local McDonald’s out of business by creating their own version of “fast food.”

For more information on the film festival, go to

The Sicilian Festival is a free family event featuring Sicilian music, dance, culture and cuisine. The celebration will take place on Sunday, May 23, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Little Italy.

Four stages will play host to Sicilian and Italian entertainment, with dancers and musicians in full costume.

And, of course, there will be plenty of food.

“Tarantino’s Sausages will be serving one-of-a-kind gourmet sausage sandwiches in addition to many other authentic eateries,” said Giovanna DiBona, the Sicilian Festival’s director of entertainment.

“We are very proud this year to have the Puma Soccer Fan Zone join our festival,” she said. “Soccer in Italy is something more than just a passion – soccer for Italians means tradition. It’s one of the most significant symbols our country has to offer.”

A big-screen re-broadcast of Italy’s win at the 2006 World Cup will be played during the festival. Soccer fans can prepare for the June 11 start of the 2010 World Cup by getting T-shirts at the Fan Zone that are custom-printed with a selection of “Love = Soccer” themes. Kids can enjoy the interactive ball-shooting zone, have their picture taken with cutouts of the world’s finest players and participate in face painting, contests and giveaways.

The Screamin’ Primas band will be on hand to orchestrate a lively salute to the music of Louis Prima in the centennial year of his birth.

“This is going to be great because if Louis was alive to today, he would be 100 years old and be so proud. Born in New Orleans, but of Sicilian descent, his music had a jazz feel to it. It had such a lively, high energy, swing beat that it just made you want to start jumping,” DiBona said.

And to top it all off, an authentic Sicilian-style wedding will take place, followed by a Sicilian-style reception with music provided by the Roman Holiday Band.

Free parking and shuttle service for the Sicilian Festival will be available from the north lot of the County Administration Building. For more information, go to

On Wednesday, May 26, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., the Taste of Little Italy will celebrate the neighborhood’s cuisine. A new restaurant, Bencotto Italian Kitchen, will mark its debut in the event while several other restaurants will repeat their participation.

One of those returnees is Indigo Grill, on the corner of Cedar and India streets, where tasters will sample Mezcal smoked salmon bruschetta prepared by Chef Deborah Scott.

“This is our ninth year as part of Taste of Little Italy and we’re excited for everyone to come and taste our dish,” said Michelle Kveen, Indigo Grill’s operations manager Enoteca Style on India Street will offer a taste of prosecco, a dry sparkling wine.

“As long as they have this festival,” said Scott Thomas, Enoteca Style’s executive chef and owner. “I plan to keep doing it because it’s a terrific community event, and besides being fun, it’s a great way to let the public know about the great businesses down here.”

Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 the day of the event. For more information, go to

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