Friday, December 24, 2010


It is that time of the year again – time to show your appreciation and to share your holiday spirit with your friends and family. Feel the love during this Holiday season! And remember – no love is like Italian love…

Here are just some of the wonderful things to delight you and your loved ones this Christmas and New Year’s Eve:

1. ‘Tis is the time when friends and family come together to share the joy of the holiday season, and “Watch the Pallino - A Bocce Documentary” is about the spirit of honoring traditions and remembering your roots.

Around the turn of the century, as the promise of jobs that drew some 15 million immigrants to Toluca, Illinois, it was the Italians who left their mark among several ethnic groups that worked shoulder to shoulder in the coal mines. Today, the town, known for its locally produced ravioli and famous pasterias, hosts what is arguably the largest bocce ball tournament of its kind in the country.

Family and friends come from across the U.S. to compete for the grand prize—and to share a bit of history along the way. Follow Father Neri, a bocce playing priest, the jocular Shirley and State champs Theresa and Nancy Biagini in their quest to make the final round. Who will triumph? You'll have to Watch the Pallino.

Now only $10.99 plus S&H! Order the DVD direct from

2. What is a holiday without a Salute? Give as a gift, or treat yourself to these quality, affordable wines offered in 6-bottle gift packs as part of the Order Sons of Italy's Leone d'Oro 2010 Holiday Promotion.

Every Gift Pack of 6 Bottles of Vino contains 1 of each:

- Chianti Colli Senesi 2008

- Gavi 2009

- Pinot Grigio 2009

- Prosecco

- Sangiovese 2009

- Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2006
Special Price for the holidays: $89.99 (FREE shipping/delivery!)

Questions? Call 202-547-2900

3. Glorious Italian food is the best way to compliment the vino! The Italian Store in Arlington, VA, offers Holiday Specials on some of the traditional Italian treats, such as Panettone, Pandoro, Panforte, Baccala fish, Italian Gift baskets, Struffoli, Italian Cookie Plates, assorted Italian pastries, Pastiera (grain pies), and even Cannoli from Brooklyn, N.Y, just to mention a few. The Store also boasts the largest selection of Italian wines in the area. Italian speaking staff members will make you feel at home for the holidays!

Got questions? Email Robert Tramonte at or visit The Italian Store, located at 3123 Lee Highway, Arlington, VA 22201; Tel. (703) 528-6266

4. Don’t feel like cooking these holidays? Come to celebrate Christmas Eve at the renowned Café Milano! The “La Vigilia di Natale” Prix Fixe Menu ($75) includes:

- Aperitivo Classico con Spumante "Sogno" (Italian sparkling wine)

- Insalatina di Polipo con Sedano Bianco, Patate e Olive Appassite (Mediterranean Octopus Salad with Celery Heart);

- Potato and Cured Olives in Lemon Vinaigrette;

- Pepata di Cozze al Limone e Vino Bianco (Steamed Fresh Mussels in White Wine in Lemon and Parsley Broth)

- Baccala Fritto in Crosta di Polenta con Sformatino di Cavolfiore Romanesco (Polenta Crusted Crispy Baccala with an Organic Romanesco Cauliflower Timbale)

- Spaghetti alle Vongole Manila e Pomodorini Pachino (Imported Spaghetti with Sauteed Manila Clams in Lightly Spiced Tomato Sauce)

- Trancio di Baccala in Guazzetto di Cipolline, Patate Novelle e Olive Appassite (Stewed Baccala Fillet in a Tomato Broth with Braised Cipollini Onions, Baby Potatoes and Cured Olives)

- OR Filetti di Orata al Verde con Ragu di Topinambur e Porcini (Sautéed Mediterranean Dorade Fillet in a Spinach Sauce with a Ragout of Braised Jerusalem Artichoke and Porcini Mushrooms)

- Crostata di Ricotta e Noci con Gelato al Rum e Castagne Glassate (Maple Walnut Ricotta Tart with Rum Ice Cream and Maroon Glace)

- Biscotti
Regular a la carte menu is also available

To make a reservation, call 202-333-6183

Cafe Milano is located at 3251 Prospect Street, NW Washington, D.C. 20007

5. Whether you are having a holiday feast at home or going out, Flowers by Fiore will help you to embellish your home or deliver some Christmas cheer with a bouquet beautifully arranged by the owner Lisa Fiore, who has been in the floral design business for over 20 years. Flowers by Fiore (former “Roman’s Florist & Fine Gifts”) offers full floral service including beautiful fresh & silk floral arrangements, fruit & gourmet baskets and traditional giftware for every occasion.

Flowers by Fiore is located on Gateway Drive between the Bel Air Athletic Center and the Bel Air Post Office. Customers are welcome Monday through Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM (4 PM on Saturday) or by appointment.

To place an order, call 410-638-6300 or visit their website.  And remember: Fiore means Flower in Italian!

6. If you would like to bring a special gift for the hostess, or find something unique and unusual for your friends and family, visit Alessi – a legendary Italian design house that recently opened its store in Georgetown, DC.

The Christmas Collection features many beautiful, limited edition items – each a piece of art in itself, hand-numbered and year-marked. Every item is individually hand-decorated porcelain (expect for the corkscrew which is made out of a hard polyamide plastic and chrome-plated zamak).

But you need to hurry up to secure your masterpiece – the Georgetown store carries only a limited stock. If the item you are craving is not available, the helpful Alessi staff is able to order anything from the main supplier in Italy. The S&H is $12 within the US (more for an oversized item) and takes about 7-10 business days. Anyone who purchased goods totaling $150 or more and lives in the DC metro area may request free messenger service. Corporate gifting as well as bridal registry is also available.
The Alessi store is located at 3319-A Cadys Alley, NW, Washington, DC 20007

Tel. 202.298.0407, Fax 202. 298.0406 Web:

7. No celebration, especially Italian, is complete without music. Some argue that Italy is the birthplace of music – and it continues to delight with pieces both romantic and inspirational.

Mary Grace Mazzulli, lead cantor at St. Leo the Great Church in Little Italy, Baltimore, is known for her renditions of the National Anthems of The United States and Italy and excerpts from The Phantom of the Opera, along with other Italian arias at the AIAC Dinner Dance, the Columbus Celebrations and many other Italian American events.

This talented artist just released her first CD - The Night of Silence. It is a composition of Christmas songs including Italian, Latin, & English classics. And the best part: this CD is guaranteed to be different from any other Christmas CD you have ever heard – in a good way!

It is currently available for the holiday season. To get your copy now, send $15.00 to Mary Grace Mazzulli – 1020 Stiles Street – Little Italy – Baltimore , MD 21202 , and it will be mailed to you the same day. Or, if you want to pick one up, you can do so at the same address. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Associated Italian American Charities scholarship fund.

8. For those with slightly different music tastes, how about the taste of exquisite olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar? A week in Calabria? michéal CASTALDO, an Italian-born Canadian, now New York City resident offers up all these things and more. As he says, “Life is not a cup to be drained, but a measure to be filled.”...“The soft but powerful sound of michéal CASTALDO’s voice backed by a fresh international pop sound... hits you with intensity filling you with melancolic joy that makes you want to cry. His overwhelmingly penetrating emotions, dreamy voice aims straight for your heart"... (Jimmy Norman, The Coasters)

micheal Castaldo just released a new CD entitled Aceto. This album is a tribute to micheal's late dad, Pasquale Castaldo. The album’s “bitter-suite,” soulful Italian songs in the style of Andrea Bocelli, Il Divo, and Josh Groban will embrace the themes of grace, healing, and remembrance and make it a perfect choice for your Christmas Eve!

“Aceto” is available at all e-tail stores such as, all digi-download stores like and various mom & pop stores like E. Rossi & Co in Manhattan's Little Italy.

For more information, visit

9. Lettere d'Amore (Letters of Love) by tenor Elio Scaccio will get to the heart of that special someone this holiday season. It is impossible to remain untouched by his LETTERE D'AMORE CD, which was inspired by the love letters written by his father. Share your love this season with melodies of Italy, gracefully presented by Elio Scaccio.

For more information, visit

10. If you want a truly unique gift with a personal touch, invite an Italian to your home! Especially if this Italian can cook. Celebrate the holidays in true Italian style with CiaoDC's private cooking classes by Chef Enzo Febbraro. This gift is guaranteed to become the gift that will keep on giving – year after year. Classes are offered in the privacy of your home or in Chef Enzo's kitchen, and include hands-on demonstrations, wine tastings and seated three course meals featuring Italian regional cuisine.

Available for groups of 8 or more! Reserve yours now at CiaoDC!

11. And the last – but not the least – is a gift that will bring you and your loved ones closer to Italy. The Italian Cultural Society offers Italian language classes for all levels – beginners through advanced. The winter sessions start January 10, 2011, and classes are available during the day, evening and weekend for adults.

For more information, call 301-215-7885 or visit

Buon Natale and Happy Holidays to all from CiaoDC!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Lidia Bastianich's New Children's Book & Holiday Traditions

Lidia Matticchio Bastianich has proven recently that she is a woman of many talents.  In August, Lidia, along with Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich (Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group), opened Eataly in New York City.  Eataly is the country's largest Italian food and wine marketplace.  More on that here.

More recently, Lidia has published a book for children: Nonna Tell Me A Story.  CiaoDC interviewed Lidia this month about her new book and the Christmas traditions she has with her children and grandchildren.  Lidia also offers advice for anyone looking to have a successful holiday gatheringRead here!

National Organization of Italian American Women in DC

Read CiaoDC's exclusive interview with NOIAW Greater DC's Regional President, Diana Femia here.  Diana is picture third from the left, standing up.  You can also click on the title to this post to view NOIAW's website.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

CiaoDC's Holiday Gifts, Guests and Giveaways!

Guest chef Enzo Febbraro will chat with CiaoDC subscribers on Wednesday, December 15 from 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. about everything Italian holiday cooking, entertaining and more!  First 10 people to join the chat will receive a signed copy of Nonna Tell Me a Story from chef/TV Host, Lidia Bastianich.  Chat here.

More Cinema Opportunities

Two more opportunities to see Italian movies are happening next Wednesday and Thursday at the Italian Embassy.  They are showing "A Pause in the Holocaust and Inglelore" (Wednesday) and "Gli Amici del Bar Margherita" (Thursday).  Both will be in Italian with English subtitles.  Click on the link to this post for more information and to RSVP!